Paradise Square will arrive on Broadway a little later than originally announced, with previews now set to begin March 15 ahead of an April 3 opening night at the Barrymore Theatre. The production was originally set to begin previews February 22, and is postponing as a precautionary measure following the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
The move comes just as the company, led by Tony-nominated Slave Play star Joaquina Kalukango, was set to begin rehearsals. "We hope that a later start date for rehearsals and performances after the current wave is predicted to subside will better protect our company, audience, and theatre community," says producer Garth H. Drabinsky.
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.
Kalukango 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 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 musical premiered at Berkeley Rep in 2019, and played a pre-Broadway tryout at Chicago's James M. Nederlander Theatre late last year.