After beginning performances November 2, Paradise Square is set to officially open at the James M. Nederlander Theatre in Chicago November 17. The new musical is scheduled to play a limited engagement through December 5 before arriving on Broadway in February 2022. The musical premiered at Berkeley Rep in 2019, but arrives in Chicago with several new musical numbers.
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. 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 and a book by Christina Anderson, Marcus Gardley, Craig Lucas, and Kirwan.
Paradise Square stars Joaquina Kalukango (Slave Play) as Nelly Freeman, 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), Kevin Dennis (Young Frankenstein in Canada), Jacob Fishel (Fiddler on the Roof), and Matt Bogart (Smokey Joe's Cafe) alongside Garrett Coleman, Jason Oremus, Colin Barkell, Karen Burthwright, Kennedy Caughell, Dwayne Clark, 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, Kayla Pecchioni, Eilis Quinn, Lee Siegel, Erica Spyres, Lael van Keuren, Alan Wiggins, Kristen Beth Williams and Hailee Kaleem Wright.
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.
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!).