What Did Critics Think of the Broadway-Bound Paradise Square in Chicago?

The Verdict   What Did Critics Think of the Broadway-Bound Paradise Square in Chicago?
 
Check out photos of the new musical, running through December 5 at the James M. Nederlander Theatre before arriving on Broadway in February 2022.
in <i>Paradise Square</i>
Sidney DuPont, A.J. Shively, and cast in Paradise Square Kevin Berne

The reviews are in for the pre-Broadway tryout of Paradise Square, which opened at Chicago's James M. Nederlander Theatre November 17, for a limited engagement through December 5. Previews for the new musical began November 2.

Set in Manhattan’s Five Points neighborhood during the Civil War, Paradise Square follows the inhabitants of a local saloon—including the Black woman who owns it, a conflicted newly arrived Irish immigrant, a freedom seeker, and a once-great songwriter.

Tony nominee Joaquina Kalukango (Slave Play) leads the cast in the central role of Nelly Freeman, the saloon proprietor. The principal cast also includes Chilina Kennedy (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), John Dossett (Gypsy), Sidney DuPont (Beautiful), A.J. Shively (Bright Star), Nathaniel Stampley (Porgy and Bess), Gabrielle McClinton (Pippin), Jacob Fishel (Fiddler on the Roof), Matt Bogart (Jersey Boys), and Kevin Dennis (Young Frankenstein in Canada).

Check out the reviews below.

Chicago Concert Reviews (Andy Argyrakis)

Chicago Reader (Irene Hsiao)

Chicago Sun-Times (Catey Sullivan)

Chicago Tribune (Chris Jones)

Conversations with Ed Tracy (Ed Tracy)

Daily Herald (Barbara Vitello)

New City Stage (Brian Hieggelke)

Northwest Herald (Paul Lockwood)

NWI Times (Eloise Marie Valadez)

Theatrely (Emily McClanathan)

WTTW (Hedy Weiss)

Playbill will continue to update this page as reviews come in.

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 re-imagining of the songs of Stephen Foster. Christina Anderson, Marcus Gardley, Craig Lucas, and Kirwan wrote the book.

Paradise Square is executive produced by Garth Drabinsky. Moisés Kaufman (I Am My Own Wife, The Laramie Project) directs, with choreography by two-time Tony winner Bill T. Jones (Spring Awakening, Fela!).

Paradise Square begins Broadway performances February 22 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Opening night is slated for March 20.

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The Verdict
Read reviews of the latest Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, and regional productions.