Paradise Square: A New Musical

Paradise Square: A New Musical

Paradise Square: A New Musical

Book by Marcus Gardley, Craig Lucas, and Larry Kirwan
Music by Jason Howland and Larry Kirwan
Lyrics by Nathan Tysen
Based on the songs of Stephen Foster
Conceived by Larry Kirwan
Arrangements by Jason Howland and Larry Kirwan
Musical Supervision and Orchestrations by Jason Howland
Choreography by Bill T. Jones
Directed by Moisés Kaufman
Main Season · Roda Theatre
December 27, 2018–March 3, 2019
World premiere

Running time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, plus one 15-minute intermission

It’s 1863 and in a 20-block area of Manhattan known as the Five Points, Black and Irish Americans live side by side, work together, marry, and for a brief period realize racial harmony. However, the intensifying Civil War soon results in the first-ever Federal draft, leading to riots as whites are called to enlist while blacks are barred from serving. Will the hard-won bonds of friendship, community, and family in the Five Points prevail or be severed forever?

Calling upon a variety of musical and dance traditions including Irish step-dancing and African traditional forms (Juba dancing), as well as new ones created from their fusion (tap dance), Paradise Square subverts and reframes some of the most popular music of the 19th century while honoring and celebrating this unique neighborhood’s diverse inhabitants, whose passionate, moving, and heartbreaking experiences burn in our imaginations today.

Paradise Square was produced by special arrangement with Garth H. Drabinsky in association with Peter LeDonne and Teatro Proscenium Limited Partnership.

Paradise Square began as Hard Times at Nancy Manocherian’s the cell in NYC (Artistic Director Kira Simring).

Creative team

Marcus Gardley · Book
Craig Lucas · Book
Larry Kirwan · Conceiver / Book / Music / Arranger
Jason Howland · Music / Music Director / Music Supervisor / Orchestrator / Arranger
Nathan Tysen · Lyricist
Moisés Kaufman · Director
Bill T. Jones · Choreographer
Allen Moyer · Scenic Design
Toni-Leslie James · Costume Design
Donald Holder · Lighting Design
Jon Weston · Sound Design
Matthew B. Armentrout · Hair/Wig Design
Dell Howlett · Associate Choreographer
Garrett Coleman & Jason Oremus · Irish & Hammerstep Choreography
Thulani Davis · Dramaturg
Sydne Mahone · Dramaturg
Stewart/Whitley (Duncan Stewart, Benton Whitley, Paul Hardt, Christine McKenna-Tirella, Allie Carieri) · Casting
Crystal MacDonell · Production Stage Manager
Chris Waters · Stage Manager
Megan McClintock · Stage Manager
Betsy Norton · Assistant Stage Manager
Amy Marie Seidel · Assistant Director
Talli Jackson · Assistant Choreographer
Kevin Ramessar · Associate Music Director
Ryan Touhey · Assistant Musical Director
Warren Karp · Associate Scenic Designer
Michael Magaraci · Associate Costume Designer
Karen Spahn · Associate Lighting Designer
John Millerd · Associate Sound Designer
Sofie Miller · Production Assistant
Billy Jay Stein and Hiro Iida for Strange Cranium Productions · Electronic Music Design
Jessica Berman · Dialect Coach
Dave Maier · Fight Consultant
Carin M. Ford · A1
Stephen Dee · Production Sound Associate
Gerald Frentz · Production Carpenter
Isabella Stadler · Automation Specialist
Sean Sweeney · Additional Automation Support
Kevin Wilson · Moving Light Programmer


Karen Burthwright · Ensemble
Kennedy Caughell · Janey Foster / Ensemble / Fight Captain
Tiffany Adeline Cole · Swing
Garrett Coleman · Ensemble
Colin Cunliffe · Ensemble
Chloé Davis · Ensemble / Dance Captain
Kevin Dennis · Mike Quinlan
Bernard Dotson · Camp Butler / Ensemble
Jamal Christopher Douglas · Ensemble
Sidney Dupont · William Henry Lane
Sam Edgerly · Ensemble
Jacob Fishel · Stephen Foster/Milton Moore
Shiloh Goodin · Ensemble
Jacobi Hall · Levi Butler / Ensemble
Daren A. Herbert · Rev. Samuel E. Cornish
Erin Lamar · Swing
Gabrielle McClinton · Angelina Baker
Ben Michael · Provost Marshal / Ensemble
Jason Oremus · Ensemble
Bridget Riley · Ensemble / Dance Captain
Clinton Roane · Ensemble
Celia Mei Rubin · Swing
Christina Sajous · Annabelle “Nelly” Freeman
A.J. Shively · Owen Duignan
Erica Spyres · Ensemble
Madeline Trumble · Annie O’Brien
Mark Uhre · Elmer Woods
Lael Van Keuren · Ensemble
Brendan Wall · Willie O’Brien / Ensemble
Sir Brock Warren · Ensemble
Chris Whelan · Patrick Murphy
Hailee Kaleem Wright · Ensemble


Jason Howland · Conductor/Keyboard 1
Kevin Ramessar · Associate Conductor/Guitar 1 / Conductor/Keyboard 1 as of 1/5
Ryan Touhey · Assistant Conductor/Keyboard 2 / Associate Conductor as of 1/5
Kenji Higashihama · Associate Music Director/Associate Conductor/Keyboard 2 as of 2/12
Derek Brooker · Guitar 1 as of 1/5
Lane Sanders · Drums
Christina Owens · Violin/Fiddle
Greg Messa · Percussion
Steve Danska · Guitar 2
Daniel Fabricant · Bass
Sean Kana · Contractor
JoAnn Kane Music/Russell Bartmus · Copyist

To mount Paradise’s dazzling array of song, dance, and theater requires an army, which the Rep delivers in full. Director Moisés Kaufman crafts the book by Marcus Gardley, Craig Lucas, and Larry Kirwan into a hefty, heartfelt narrative. Choreographer Bill T. Jones invites the rapid footwork and upright posture of Irish dance that rises from the soles of dancers’ hard shoes to serve as counterpoint to the bent-over, weighted movement of early tap…Gradually, rhythmic crossover—bodies transformed to percussion instruments expressing power and pain—merges the traditions. Masterfully, the distinct character of each form is retained.

Onstage, period costumes by costume designer Toni-Leslie James and scenic designer Allen Moyer’s convincing saloon and street settings are impeccable: balancing deliberate flaws, frivolity, and formality while establishing broad class divisions and fashion that reflects each character’s unique style and personality.

Of course, actors are the last stop in determining a play’s heartbeat. Here, there are larger and smaller roles, but not greater or lesser talent.

Paradise Square reminds us of essential life: Take your pulse, protect your heart, treasure your neighbor. Can it be that simple?”

East Bay Express

Stirring…[Bill T.] Jones’ choreography is well worth the price of admission in itself, stunningly dynamic, evocative and unconventional. There’s a lot of sprightly Irish step dancing…The greatest moments of pure joy in the musical happen during raucous dance-offs.”

Mercury News / Bay Area News Group

Trumble treats each note with the tenderness of a mother caring for an ailing child. Sajous belts with the might and commitment of a warrior marshaling troops for battle. As Stephen Foster’s wife, Janey, Kennedy Caughell wrings each sustain as if she can’t bear to hold it and can’t bear to let it go.”

San Francisco Chronicle

The music and lyrics (arranged by Larry Kirwan and Jason Howland, lyrics by Nathan Tysen), all based on [Stephen] Foster’s extensive oeuvre, are both refreshingly revelatory and earworm familiar. Foster’s love songs are among his most popular offerings, and the feminist reinterpretations of both ‘Gentle Annie’ and ‘Janey with the Light Brown Hair’ are among the show’s best. William Henry Lane’s tribute to his love, ‘Angelina Baker,’ gives a voice to the language of the heart. And a gracious rendition of ‘Beautiful Dreamer,’ perhaps Foster’s last song, contains the perfect, shimmering note upon which to end the show.”


Watch now

Behind the scenes: Paradise Square

Dancers Karen Burthwright, Garrett Coleman, and Jason Oremus give us a taste of the African American and Irish American dance styles in this hit musical.

Official trailer: Paradise Square: A New Musical

See why audiences and critics are stomping their feet and clapping their hands to the incredible dance and music of Paradise Square!

Behind the scenes: Paradise Square rehearsals

Get a sneak peek at Paradise Square: A New Musical and hear from book writer Marcus Gardley, director Moisés Kaufman, and choreographer Bill T. Jones.

Behind the scenes: Photo shoot

Here’s a peek at the Paradise Square cast photo shoot with photographer Cheshire Isaacs.

Behind the scenes: Paradise Square meet and greet

On the first day of rehearsals, director Moisés Kaufman and choreographer Bill T. Jones introduce Berkeley Rep’s biggest musical to date.

Listen up

REPISODES: The Berkeley Rep Podcast presents a series of conversations with artists and experts around the shows in our 50th anniversary season. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud to keep up with the whole series.

See photos

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Photos courtesy of Kevin Berne and Alessandra Mello/Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Photos may not be used for commercial or personal use without written permission from Berkeley Rep, and unauthorized alteration, reproduction, or sale of these images is strictly prohibited. Journalists and other members of the media, please visit our online press room.



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