Cast Announced for Paradise Square
Tony Award nominee Joaquina Kalukango (Slave Play, One Night in Miami), will lead the cast of the new musical, Paradise Square, which will open on Broadway on Sunday, March 20, 2022 at the Shubert Organization's Barrymore Theatre (243 West 47th Street), it was announced today. Previews will begin on February 22, 2022. The production will come to Broadway directly following a five-week engagement (November 2-December 5, 2021) at Chicago's James M. Nederlander Theatre (24 West Randolph Street).
Ms. Kalukango is a 2020 Tony Award nominee for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for her role as Kaneisha in Slave Play. She has also starred on Broadway in The Color Purple, Holler If Ya Hear Me and Godspell. Her film and television credits include the role of Betty X in Amazon's One Night in Miami (SAG Award nomination, Cast in a Motion Picture), HBO's "Lovecraft Country" and the Netflix series, "When They See Us."
Paradise Square will also star Chilina Kennedy (over 1200 performances in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway; International tour of The Band's Visit), Tony Award nominee John Dossett (Broadway's Pippin, Newsies, Gypsy, Ragtime), Sidney DuPont (Broadway's Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; National tours of Memphis, A Chorus Line), A.J. Shively (Broadway's La Cage aux Folles, Bright Star), Nathaniel Stampley (Broadway's The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, The Color Purple), Gabrielle McClinton (Broadway's Pippin, Chicago), Jacob Fishel (Broadway's Fiddler on the Roof), and Kevin Dennis (Canadian productions of Young Frankenstein, Assassins).
The distinguished creative team for Paradise Square features direction by two-time Tony Award nominee Moises Kaufman (I Am My Own Wife, The Laramie Project), choreography by two-time Tony Award winner Bill T. Jones (Spring Awakening, Fela!), and a book by Christina Anderson (Good Goods, Inked Baby), Marcus Gardley (The House That Will Not Stand), Craig Lucas (The Light in the Piazza) and Larry Kirwan (lead singer of Black 47). Ten-time Tony Award nominee Graciela Daniele (Ragtime, Once on This Island) will provide musical staging, in collaboration with Kaufman and Jones.
The score of Paradise Square is by the team of Grammy and Emmy Award winner Jason Howland (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Little Women - The Musical) and Nathan Tysen (Amélie, Tuck Everlasting), with additional material provided by Masi Asare (Monsoon Wedding, The Family Resemblance) and Mr. Kirwan. The musical features original songs as well as a reimagining of the songs of Stephen Foster, who was writing and living in the Five Points at the time.
ABOUT THE MUSICAL
New York City. 1863. The Civil War raged on. An extraordinary thing occurred amid the dangerous streets and crumbling tenement houses of the Five Points, the notorious 19th-century Lower Manhattan slum. For many years, Irish immigrants escaping the devastation of the Great Famine settled alongside free-born Black Americans and those who escaped slavery, arriving by means of the Underground Railroad. The Irish, relegated at that time to the lowest rung of America's social status, received a sympathetic welcome from their Black neighbors (who enjoyed only slightly better treatment in the burgeoning industrial-era city). The two communities co-existed, intermarried, raised families, and shared their cultures in this unlikeliest of neighborhoods.
The amalgamation between the communities took its most exuberant form with raucous dance contests on the floors of the neighborhood bars and dance halls. It is here in the Five Points where tap dancing was born, as Irish step dancing joyously competed with Black American Juba.
But this racial equilibrium would come to a sharp and brutal end when President Lincoln's need to institute the first Federal Draft to support the Union Army would incite the deadly NY Draft Riots of July 1863.
Within this galvanizing story of racial harmony undone by a country at war with itself, we meet the denizens of a local saloon called Paradise Square: Nelly Freeman (Joaquina Kalukango), the indomitable Black woman who owns it; Annie O'Brien (Chilina Kennedy), her Irish-Catholic sister-in-law and her Black minister husband, Rev. Samuel Jacob Lewis (Nathaniel Stampley); Owen Duignan (A.J. Shively), a conflicted newly arrived Irish immigrant; Washington Henry (Sidney DuPont), a fearless freedom seeker; Frederic Tiggens (John Dossett), an anti-abolitionist political boss, and Milton Moore (Jacob 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.
The world premiere of Paradise Square was produced in January 2019 by Berkeley Repertory Theatre (Artistic Director, Tony Taccone; Managing Director, Susan Medak). The musical is based on Hard Times, conceived by Mr. Kirwan, which was originally presented at the intimate Off-Broadway theatre, Nancy Manocherian's the cell, in 2012.
With visceral and nuanced staging and choreography that captures the pulsating energy when Black and Irish cultures meet, Paradise Square depicts an overlooked true-life moment when hope and possibility shone bright.