‘Paradise Square,’ a Broadway-bound musical, set to open in Chicago in November

The show focuses on the shared lives of African Americans — some free born, some fleeing slavery — and freshly arrived Irish immigrants in the Lower Manhattan slum of Five Points in 1863.

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Performers dance in the 2019 world premiere of “Paradise Square” at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California.

Alessandra Mello/Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Chicago’s job of presenting new musicals on their way to Broadway — halted last year by the pandemic — is set to resume in November with a show about a key moment in the history of Irish Americans and African Americans.

“Paradise Square,” set at a saloon in the Lower Manhattan slum of Five Points in 1863, will run at the James M. Nederlander Theatre Nov. 2-Dec. 5, producers announced Tuesday. It focuses on the shared lives of African Americans — some free born, some fleeing slavery — and freshly arrived Irish immigrants in that New York neighborhood.

The casting and Broadway plans will be announced later.

The musical is directed by two-time Tony nominee Moisés Kaufman (“I Am My Own Wife,” “The Laramie Project”), with choreography by two-time Tony winner Bill T. Jones (“Spring Awakening,” “Fela!”). The writing team includes Larry Kirwan, lead singer of the Celtic rock band Black 47, along with veteran playwrights Christina Anderson, Marcus Gardley and Craig Lucas.

The score, by Grammy winner Jason Howland (“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”) and Nathan Tysen (with contributions by Kirwan and Masi Asare), is built around the songs of Five Points resident Stephen Foster as well as original works.

Garth Drabinsky, the high-profile Canadian impresario who restored and reopened the Nederlander Theatre (then the Oriental) in 1998, is producing “Paradise Square.” Drabinsky was a major player in Chicago theater in the ‘90s, bringing in long-running productions of “Show Boat,” “Ragtime” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat.”

“Paradise Square” first was staged in January 2019 by Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California.

Tickets for groups of 10 or more are available now, and individual tickets will go on sale June 8 at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.


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