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VIDEO: Joaquina Kalukango, Chilina Kennedy & More Sing the Opening Number From PARADISE SQUARE


Paradise Square begins a pre-Broadway engagement on November 2, one week from today, at Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre (24 West Randolph Street).

Three-time Tony Award-winning producer Garth H. Drabinsky is presenting theatregoers with their first opportunity to experience the opening number for Paradise Square, A New Musical. Featuring Tony Award nominee Joaquina Kalukango (Slave Play), Chilina Kennedy (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Nathaniel Stampley (The Color Purple), Matt Bogart (Jersey Boys), Kevin Dennis (Assassins) and the ensemble, the show's exuberant and emotional opening number can be viewed below!

Paradise Square begins a pre-Broadway engagement on November 2, one week from today, at Chicago's James M. Nederlander Theatre (24 West Randolph Street). The production plays five weeks only through December 5, 2021. Visit for details.

Tickets are on sale at for Paradise Square on Broadway. The first new musical announced for Broadway since the industry-wide shut down, Paradise Square begins previews February 22, 2022 at the Barrymore Theatre (243 West 47th Street), where it opens March 20, 2022.

In September, the Paradise Square cast assembled in New York City to record selections from the score, written by the team of composer Jason Howland (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Little Women - The Musical) and lyricists Nathan Tysen (Amélie, Tuck Everlasting) and Masi Asare (Monsoon Wedding, The Family Resemblance), with additional material by Larry Kirwan (Lead singer of Black 47). The musical features original songs as well as new material inspired in part by the songs of Stephen Foster.

"Paradise Square," the show's opening number, is set during a rousing celebration in New York City's notorious Five Points neighborhood at the saloon owned and operated by Nelly O'Brien (Joaquina Kalukango). It's 1863, and her Irish immigrant husband, Willy O'Brien (Matt Bogart) and his best friend 'Lucky' Mike Quinlan (Kevin Dennis) have volunteered to serve the Union Army in the still raging Civil War. The denizens of the Paradise Square Saloon send the soldiers off with cheers led by Willy's sister Annie Lewis (Chilina Kennedy) and prayers led by her husband, Reverend Samuel Jacob Lewis (Nathaniel Stampley).

The performance also features soloist Hailee Kaleem Wright and ensemble members Kennedy Caughell, Colin Cunliffe, Chloe Davis, Josh Davis, Bernard Dotson, Jamal Christopher Douglas, Sam Edgerly, Jacobi Hall, Sean Jenness, Ben Michael, Jay McKenzie, Kayla Pecchioni, Eilis Quinn, Lee Siegel, Erica Spyres, Lael Van Keuren, Alan Wiggins and Kristen Beth Williams, with Rashidra Scott and Yasmeen Sulieman.

The recording is produced by Grammy and Emmy Award winner Jason Howland and Grammy Award-winning producer Billy Jay Stein. Howland also provides musical direction, arrangements, and orchestrations for the recording. Garth H. Drabinsky serves as Executive Producer.

The distinguished creative team for Paradise Square features direction by two-time Tony Award nominee and National Medal of Arts recipient Moisés 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. Musical staging is by Alex Sanchez (Far From Heaven, City Center Encores!).

Paradise Square is produced by Garth H. Drabinsky (Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony Award, Best Musical), Show Boat (Tony Award, Best Revival of a Musical), Ragtime, Fosse (Tony Award, Best Musical),Parade). Mr. Drabinsky's longtime colleague, documentary filmmaker Peter LeDonne (the Academy Award-nominated Curtain Call and Sister Rose's Passion) is co-producing.

Paradise Square stars Joaquina Kalukango (Tony Award nominee for Slave Play, Netflix's "One Night in Miami"), Chilina Kennedy (over 1,200 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 ofMemphis, A Chorus Line), A.J. Shively (Broadway's La Cage aux Folles, Bright Star), Matt Bogart (Broadway's Smokey Joe's Café, Jersey Boys), 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 multi-award-winning creative team features 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.


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 O'Brien (Joaquina Kalukango), the indomitable Black woman who owns it; Annie Lewis (Chilina Kennedy), her Irish-Catholic sister-in-law and her Black minister husband, Rev. Samuel Jacob Lewis (Nathaniel Stampley); Willie O'Brien (Matt Bogart), Nelly's Irish husband, who is off fighting for the Union army; 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 was originally conceived by Mr. Kirwan.

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.


Tickets for Paradise Square are available at Tickets for groups of 10 or more are available by calling Broadway Inbound Group Sales at (866) 302-0995 or emailing

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