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New York, 1863. As the Civil War rages on, free Blacks and Irish immigrants live and love together in Lower Manhattan’s notorious Five Points slum. 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. 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.
With visceral and nuanced staging and choreography that captures the pulsating energy when Black and Irish cultures meet and set to a contemporary score that reimagines early American song, Paradise Square depicts an overlooked true-life moment when hope and possibility shone bright.
In the Lower Manhattan slums of 1863, as the nation is torn apart by war, one saloon became an unlikely hub of peace. Raucous dance contests at a local watering hole called Paradise Square brought free Blacks and Irish immigrants together in one spirited community — until the Draft Riots brought an abrupt end to the party. *Paradise Square *Broadway tickets will be available soon. Set an alert for Paradise Square tickets.
Paradise Square is a musical that captures all of America’s best ideals and ugliest divisions, as well as the country’s cultural triumphs and forgotten heroes. The saloon’s dance contests between Black American juba dancing and Irish step dancing gave birth to what we now know as American tap dance. Choreography by Bill T. Jones brings the birth of tap dance to glorious life in his extravagant dances for Paradise Square.
Among the bar’s regulars, a story of the many faces of American identity is told: from freedom fighters, to anti-abolitionists, to the Black woman saloon owner, and many more. As America tears itself apart, these regulars co-exist as one. The New York Draft Riots of 1863 ultimately bring an end to their equilibrium, forcing friends and loved ones to choose sides.
Paradise Square’s thrilling contemporary score by Jason Howland and Nathan Tysen features both original numbers and reimagined 1800s tunes by Stephen Foster, known for such enduring classics as “Oh! Susanna” and “Camptown Races.” Masi Asare and Larry Kirwan provide additional musical material for Paradise Square on Broadway, which is directed by Tony Award-nominated director Moisés Kaufman.
February 22nd, 2022
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