Paradise Square has released a preview video of a song from the upcoming Broadway-bound musical. "I'd Be a Soldier" is one of several new numbers written for the musical since its 2019 Berkeley Rep premiere. (Although there was a song by with that title in the Berkeley Rep production, this is a completely new song, lyric, and arrangement.) Watch the video above.
Set in Manhattan’s Five Points neighborhood amid the Civil War and the New York Draft Riots, the musical follows the denizens of a local saloon, including the Black woman who owns it, a conflicted newly arrived Irish immigrant, a runaway slave, a political boss, and a once-great songwriter.
In the musical, "I'd Be a Soldier" is a response to the nation’s first Federal Draft, instituted by President Lincoln to bolster the ranks of the Union Army. At that point in the war, free Black Americans were not considered citizens so they were not allowed to enlist and did not have the right to bear arms.
The song is performed by Nathaniel Stampley as Rev. Samuel Jacob Lewis and Sidney DuPont as Washington Henry, with Chloe Davis, Bernard Dotson Jamal Christopher Douglas, Jacobi Hall, Jay McKenzie, Kayla Pecchioni, Lee Siegel, Rashidra Scott, Yasmeen Sulieman, Alan Wiggins and Hailee Kaleem Wright.
The principal cast of Paradise Square on Broadway will include Joaquina Kalukango (Slave Play) in the central role of saloon proprietor Nelly Freeman, as well as Chilina Kennedy (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), John Dossett (Gypsy), A.J. Shively (Bright Star), Gabrielle McClinton (Pippin, Chicago), Jacob Fishel (Fiddler on the Roof), and Kevin Dennis (Young Frankenstein in Canada), along with Stampley and DuPont.
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. "I'd Be a Soldier" has music by Howland and lyrics by Tysen and Asare.