The pre-Broadway tryout of Paradise Square opens at Chicago's James M. Nederlander Theatre November 17, for a limited engagement through December 5. Previews began November 2.
Set in Manhattan’s Five Points neighborhood during the Civil War, the musical follows the inhabitants of a local saloon—including the Black woman who owns it, a conflicted newly arrived Irish immigrant, a freedom seeker, and a once-great songwriter.
The musical premiered at Berkeley Rep in 2019, but arrives in Chicago with several new musical numbers. The production released preview videos of a few of the new tunes in the weeks leading up to the Chicago premiere.
Tony nominee Joaquina Kalukango (Slave Play) leads the cast in the central role of Nelly Freeman, the saloon proprietor. The principal cast also includes Chilina Kennedy (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), John Dossett (Gypsy), Sidney DuPont (Beautiful), A.J. Shively (Bright Star), Nathaniel Stampley (Porgy and Bess), Gabrielle McClinton (Pippin), Jacob Fishel (Fiddler on the Roof), Matt Bogart (Jersey Boys), and Kevin Dennis (Young Frankenstein in Canada).
Rounding out the cast are Colin Barkell, Karen Burthwright, Kennedy Caughell, Dwayne Clark, Garrett Coleman, Eric Craig, Colin Cunliffe, Chloe Davis, Josh Davis, Bernard Dotson, Jamal Christopher Douglas, Camille Eanga-Selenge, Sam Edgerly, Shiloh Goodin, Jacobi Hall, Sean Jenness, Joshua Keith, Jay McKenzie, Ben Michael, Jason Oremus, Kayla Pecchioni, Eilis Quinn, Lee Siegel, Erica Spyres, Lael van Keuren, Alan Wiggins, Kristen Beth Williams, and Hailee Kaleem Wright.
Conceived by Larry Kirwan, Paradise Square features a score by Jason Howland, Nathan Tysen, and Masi Asare with additional material provided by Kirwan. The musical features original songs as well as a reimagining of the songs of Stephen Foster. Christina Anderson, Marcus Gardley, Craig Lucas, and Kirwan wrote the book.
Paradise Square is executive-produced by Garth Drabinsky. Moisés Kaufman (I Am My Own Wife, The Laramie Project) directs with choreography by two-time Tony winner Bill T. Jones (Spring Awakening, Fela!).
The production also has scenic design by Allen Moyer, costume design by Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Donald Holder, and sound design by Jon Weston. Dramaturgy is by Thulani Davis and Sydné Mahone. Projection design is by Wendall K. Harrington.
The new musical will make its Main Stem debut February 22, 2022.