The new musical Paradise Square, directed by Moisés Kaufman, begins performances at the Barrymore Theatre on March 15 with opening night set for April 3. Bill T. Jones choreographs the show, which was conceived by Larry Kirwan.
Paradise Square stars Joaquina Kalukango, Chilina Kennedy, John Dossett, Sidney DuPont, A.J. Shively, Nathaniel Stampley, Gabrielle McClinton, Jacob Fishel, Matt Bogart and Kevin Dennis, who all appeared in the Chicago run. Aisha Jackson serves as the standby for Kalukango. The ensemble features Garrett Coleman, Jason Oremus, Colin Barkell, Karen Burthwright, Kennedy Caughell, Dwayne Clark, Conor Coleman, Eric Craig, Colin Cunliffe, Chloe Davis, Josh Davis, Bernard Dotson, Jamal Christopher Douglas, Camille Eanga-Selenge, Sam Edgerly, Shiloh Goodin, Sean Jenness, Joshua Keith, Jay McKenzie, Ben Michael, Kayla Pecchioni, Eilis Quinn, Lee Siegel, Erica Spyres, Lael van Keuren, Sir Brock Warren, Alan Wiggins, Kristen Beth Williams and Hailee Kaleem Wright.
Within this story of racial harmony undone by a country at war with itself, audiences will meet the denizens of a local saloon called Paradise Square. They include Nelly O’Brien (Kalukango), the indomitable Black woman who owns it; Annie Lewis (Kennedy), her Irish-Catholic sister-in-law and her Black minister husband, Rev. Samuel Jacob Lewis (Stampley); Willie O’Brien (Matt Bogart), Nelly’s Irish husband, who is off fighting for the Union army; Owen Duignan (Shively), a conflicted newly arrived Irish immigrant; Washington Henry (DuPont), a fearless freedom seeker; Frederic Tiggens (Dossett), an anti-abolitionist political boss, and Milton Moore (Fishel), a penniless songwriter trying to capture it all. They have conflicting notions of what it means to be an American while living through one of the most tumultuous eras in our country’s history.
Paradise Square features a book co-written by Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas and Larry Kirwan. The music is by Jason Howland and Kirwan with lyrics by Nathan Tysen and additional material by Masi Asare. Alex Sanchez provides the musical staging, in collaboration with Kaufman and Jones.
The creative team includes scenic designer Allen Moyer, costume designer Toni-Leslie James, lighting designer Donald Holder, sound designer Jon Weston, hair and wig designer Matthew B. Armentrout, co- choreographers Gelan Lambert and Chloe Davis and projection designer Wendall K. Harrington with special effects by Gregory Meeh. Irish and Hammerstep choreography is by Garrett Coleman and Jason Oremus.
The world premiere of Paradise Square was produced in January 2019 by Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The musical is based on Hard Times, conceived by Kirwan, which was originally presented off-Broadway in 2012.