music by Jason Howland and Larry Kirwan
lyrics by Nathan Tysen
book by Marcus Gardley, Craig Lucas, and Larry Kirwan
based on the songs of Stephen Foster
Originally produced at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Berkeley, CA
December 27, 2018 to February 17, 2019
About the Premiere Production:
Synopsis: t’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.
Choreogrpaher: Bill T. Jones