Theater News

Cast Announced for Paradise Square on Broadway, Marking Return of Controversial Producer Garth Drabinsky

Joaquina Kalukango, Chilina Kennedy, and A.J. Shively will head the company.

Chilina Kennedy, Joaquina Kalukango, and A.J. Shively
Chilina Kennedy, Joaquina Kalukango, and A.J. Shively
(© David Gordon)

Casting has been announced for the Broadway premiere of the new musical Paradise Square, which will run at the Barrymore Theatre beginning February 22, 2022. It will open on Sunday, March 20, 2022.

The show is produced by Garth H. Drabinsky, the Tony-winning producer behind Kiss of the Spider Woman, who was sentenced to seven years in a Canadian prison in 2009 for fraud and forgery. That sentence was reduced on appeal to five years. Drabinsky served 17 months before being released on parole in 2013. Subsequent US charges were dismissed in 2018, clearing the way for Drabinsky to resume work as a theatrical producer south of the border.

The cast will be headed by Joaquina Kalukango, Chilina Kennedy, John Dossett, Sidney DuPont, A.J. Shively, Nathaniel Stampley, Gabrielle McClinton, Jacob Fishel, and Kevin Dennis. In the ensemble are Karen Burthwright, Kennedy Caughell, Dwayne Clark, Garrett Coleman, Colin Cunliffe, Chloe Davis, Bernard Dotson, Jamal Christopher Douglas, Sam Edgerly, Shiloh Goodin, Jacobi Hall, Sean Jenness, Jay McKenzie, Ben Michael, Jason Oremus, Eilis Quinn, Sara Sheperd, Lael van Keuren, Sir Brock Warren, and Hailee Kaleem Wright. Additional casting will be announced shortly.

Paradise Square is set in the Five Points neighborhood of New York City circa 1863 and is about a community of poor Irish immigrants and free Blacks who survive the war years and Draft Riots with raucous dance contests in 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," according to a press statement.

The book is a collaboration by Christina Anderson (Good Goods), Marcus Gardley (The House That Will Not Stand), Craig Lucas (The Light in the Piazza), and Larry Kirwan (lead singer of Black 47). The score of Paradise Square is by composer Jason Howland (who did the arrangements for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) and lyricist Nathan Tysen (Tuck Everlasting). Additional material is provided by Masi Asare (Monsoon Wedding) and Larry Kirwan. The musical features original songs as well as a reimagining of the songs of Stephen Foster ("Camptown Races"), who was writing and living in the Five Points at the time.

Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie Project) directs, with choreography by two-time Tony Award winner Bill T. Jones (Spring Awakening, Fela!). Ten-time Tony Award nominee Graciela Daniele (Ragtime, Once on This Island) will provide musical staging, in collaboration with Kaufman and Jones. The production will have 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. Special effects are by Gregory Meeh. Hair and wig design is by Matthew B. Armentrout. Associate choreographers are Talli Jackson and Gelan Lambert. Irish and Hammerstep choreography is by Garrett Coleman and Jason Oremus. Anne Allan is Associate Producer and Senior Resident Director. Zachary Florence is Associate Producer. Jeff Chrzczon is General Manager. Casting is by Stewart/Whitley, CSA.

Chicago's James M. Nederlander Theatre will host the pre-Broadway run, November 2-December 5.

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Paradise Square

Closed: July 17, 2022