New Musical About 19th-Century New York Plans Broadway Run

“Paradise Square,” a brand new musical that explores race relations in 19th-century New York, plans to open on Broadway subsequent winter, making it the primary beforehand unscheduled musical to step ahead because the pandemic started.

The present, which has been reworked and in growth for a decade, is a couple of long-gone slum in Lower Manhattan, Five Points, the place, throughout the run-up to the Civil War, free Black residents and Irish immigrants coexisted till the draft riots of 1863.

Not solely concerning the historical past of New York City, the musical can be concerning the historical past of music and dance. It options songs by Stephen Foster, a outstanding 19th-century American songwriter who hung out towards the tip of his life in Five Points, and it credit the Five Points neighborhood with a job within the origins of faucet dance. (Tap is an American dance type that’s usually understood to have roots within the British Isles and Africa; it has a fancy and murky historical past, however the dancing cellars of the Five Points have been an vital website of growth for the shape.)

“Paradise Square” is a comeback bid by a storied Canadian producer, Garth Drabinsky, who received three Tony Awards within the 1990s however then was convicted of fraud. He served time in a Canadian jail; expenses within the United States have been later dismissed.

The musical is to star Joaquina Kalukango, a Tony nominee for “Slave Play,” because the proprietor of the saloon during which a lot of the motion takes place. Other forged members embody Chilina Kennedy (“Beautiful”), John Dossett (a Tony nominee for “Gypsy”), Sidney DuPont (“Beautiful”), A.J. Shively (“Bright Star”), Nathaniel Stampley (“The Color Purple”), Gabrielle McClinton (“Pippin”), Jacob Fishel (“Fiddler on the Roof”) and Kevin Dennis.

The Broadway run is scheduled to start previews Feb. 22 and to open March 20 on the Ethel Barrymore Theater. Before the pandemic, the plan was to capitalize the musical for as much as $13.5 million, in response to a submitting with the Securities and Exchange Commission; a spokesman stated the precise capitalization will most likely be considerably much less.

The present has a fancy manufacturing historical past and an evolving inventive group, led by the director Moisés Kaufman (greatest referred to as the creator of “The Laramie Project”) and the choreographer Bill T. Jones (a two-time Tony winner, for “Fela!” and “Spring Awakening”). It relies on a musical referred to as “Hard Times,” which was conceived by Larry Kirwan, the lead singer of Black 47, and staged on the Cell Theater in 2012. Then, as “Paradise Square,” it had a manufacturing at Berkeley Repertory Theater in 2019, and this fall, earlier than transferring to Broadway, it’s scheduled to have a five-week run on the James M. Nederlander Theater in Chicago.

The e-book is now credited to 4 writers: Kirwan and three playwrights, Christina Anderson, Marcus Gardley and Craig Lucas. The rating, which incorporates authentic songs in addition to some attributed to Foster, now has three writers: Jason Howland, Nathan Tysen and Masi Asare.

Kaufman stated the interruption of the pandemic supplied the inventive group “an opportunity to think.”

“At Berkeley we learned that our story is epic, but we needed to continue focusing on our individual characters,” he stated. “And that’s the work that’s occurred.”

Brian Seibert contributed reporting.