Producers Fiery Angel Entertainment and Red Tail Entertainment are delighted to announce that the European Premiere of Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol – A New Musical will play a Christmas season at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall from 8 December 2022 to 8 January 2023, with a press night on 13 December 2022. Tickets go on sale on 4 July 2022.

Dolly Parton said today “Bringing our reimagined Charles Dickens classic to London feels like a homecoming. My songs weave the music of my beautiful Smoky Mountains into this timeless Christmas story, and I can’t wait for London audiences to hear them as we tell that story, set in a place that is truly special to me.”   

Set during the 1930s in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, this heart-warming and truly unforgettable production imagines Ebenezer Scrooge as the owner of a mining company town, where his callous greed blinds him to the joys and gifts of the season. As a Christmas Eve snowstorm approaches, Scrooge is visited by the spirit of his deceased business partner and three ghosts who compel him to see life anew and discover that love and family are the greatest and most precious gifts we have. Dickens’s classic characters and Parton’s heart-felt songs beautifully reimagine this timeless story in a whole new light.  Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol is an adaptation by David H. Bell, Paul T. Couch and Curt Wollan. The book is by David H. Bell with music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton.  It is produced by Fiery Angel Entertainment and Red Tail Entertainment.


8 DECEMBER 2022 – 8 JANUARY 2023



Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road
London SE1 8XX

 Performances – Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm and Sunday at 3.00pm. Performance schedule and timings may vary during the Christmas period.


Joaquina Kalukango wins best leading actress in a musical for ‘Paradise Square.’

Joaquina Kalukango, who plays a resilient Civil War-era bar owner in “Paradise Square,” won the Tony for best leading actress in a musical.

The show is Kalukango’s first top billing in a Broadway musical, and the award is her first Tony. Her star turn came in “Slave Play,” which earned her a Tony nomination in last year’s awards show.

LAZER INVAZION LIVE! Premieres this Saturday (6.4.22) at The Frida in Santa Ana

(Los Angeles, Calif.) A warp-driven laser ride through time and space, LAZER INVAZION is guaranteed to boldly take you where you’ve never been before. The mind-bending sonic and visual explosion lands at The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana, Calif., this June.

The Frida Cinema is located at 304 E 4th Street, #100, Santa Ana. Tickets can be purchased at

Saturday, June 4 | 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Saturday, June 11 | 11 p.m.
Saturday, June 18 | 11 p.m.
Saturday, June 25 | 11 p.m.

Get in touch with your inner spaceman and suit up for a fantastical journey through the multi-media cosmos of our shared imagination delivered by a full battery of high-tech lasers, theatrical lighting and high definition video choreographed to the concert-quality sound of your favorite, out-of-this-world themed rock-n-roll by David Bowie, Queen, Duran Duran, The Police, The B-52’s, Portishead, Moby, The Church, Soundgarden, Patti Smith, Daft Punk and more of your favorites from across all time!

Red Tail Live Presents A BRONX TALE: One Man Show starring Chazz Palminteri live at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Announces


Tickets On Sale May 20, 2022

Red Tail Live Presents

A BRONX TALE: One Man Show
starring Chazz Palminteri

November 11 & 12, 2022 | 7:30 PM | Byham Theater, Pittsburgh, PA


The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces single tickets will go on sale on Friday, May 20, 2022, at 10:00 a.m.ET, for Red Tail Live Presents A BRONX TALE: One Man Show starring Chazz Palminteri featuring performances on November 11 and 12, 2022, at 7:30 p.m., at the Byham Theater, 101 Sixth Street, Pittsburgh, PA.

Information and tickets ($55, $70.50, $85.50) are available at these Pittsburgh Cultural Trust official guest services sources:, call 412-456-6666.  For groups of 8+ call 412-471-6390.

For the most up to date information about the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Know Before You Go: Health and Safety Protocols, visit:


Bronx-born and raised, Chazz Palminteri wrote A Bronx Tale in 1988.  The powerful one-man stage play depicted his bruising childhood which included witnessing a gangland killing when he was nine years old.  Palminteri played 18 characters and brought them all to life in his autobiographical play.  His friends, enemies and family came alive on stage.  Hollywood Studios went crazy after seeing it and offered him millions of dollars to turn it into a major movie.  There was one catch… They wanted to put a star in the role of Sonny and someone else to write the screenplay.  With $200 dollars in the bank…Palminteri said No… he would hold out and wait. He wanted to play Sonny and write the screenplay.  Then, one night Palminteri walked into his dressing room and sitting there was Robert De Niro who just saw the show… He said it was the greatest one-man show he’s ever seen. Robert DeNiro gave Palminteri the chance he was waiting for… And as they say in Hollywood the rest is history.

Palminteri wrote the screenplay for the film A Bronx Tale and then most recently wrote the book for the Broadway Musical.  It was the first time in history that the same actor wrote the one-man play, the movie, and the Broadway Musical and starred in each one. The show you will see now is the exact show Chazz Palminteri did 34 years ago with just a chair that made him a star. |  |


In 2019, A BRONX TALE Broadway’s New Hit Musical national tour was presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, as part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh 2019-2020 season, November 19-24, 2019, at the Benedum Center.

NEW YORK TIMES: Full List of Tony Awards Nominess 2022

From the New York Times compiled by Rachel Sherman
The Tony Award nominations were announced Monday by the actors Adrienne Warren, who won a Tony Award for portraying Tina Turner in “Tina,” and Joshua Henry, a three-time Tony nominee, most recently for “Carousel.”

A total of 34 shows were vying for awards in 26 categories this year; to be eligible, the shows had to have opened between Feb. 20, 2020, and May 4, 2022. Below is a list of the nominees.

This year’s awards ceremony will take place on June 12 at Radio City Music Hall, and will feature two parts: a one-hour awards-focused segment streamed on Paramount+, which will be followed by a three-hour performance-heavy segment to be broadcast on television by CBS. It will be hosted by Ariana DeBose, who earlier this year won an Academy Award for “West Side Story.”

Best New Musical

“Girl From the North Country”


“Mr. Saturday Night”

“Paradise Square”

“Six: The Musical”

“A Strange Loop”

Best Musical Revival

“Caroline, or Change”


“The Music Man”

Best New Play



“The Lehman Trilogy”

“The Minutes”

“Skeleton Crew”

Best Play Revival

“American Buffalo”

“For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf”

“How I Learned to Drive”

“Take Me Out”

“Trouble in Mind”

Best Book of a Musical

Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas and Larry Kirwan, “Paradise Square”

Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, “Mr. Saturday Night”

Michael R. Jackson, “A Strange Loop”

Conor McPherson, “Girl From the North Country”

Lynn Nottage, “MJ”

Best Original Score

“Flying Over Sunset,” music by Tom Kitt; lyrics by Michael Korie

Editors’ Picks

The Magazine Business, From the Coolest Place to the Coldest One

Farewell to the iPod

The Future of Space Tourism Is Now. Well, Not Quite.

“Mr. Saturday Night,” music by Jason Robert Brown; lyrics by Amanda Green

“Paradise Square,” music by Jason Howland and Larry Kirwan; lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Masi Asare

“Six: The Musical,” music and lyrics: Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss

“A Strange Loop,” music and lyrics: Michael R. Jackson

Best Direction of a Play

Lileana Blain-Cruz, “The Skin of Our Teeth”

Camille A. Brown, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf”

Sam Mendes, “The Lehman Trilogy”

Neil Pepe, “American Buffalo”

Les Waters, “Dana H.”

Best Direction of a Musical

Stephen Brackett, “A Strange Loop”

Marianne Elliott, “Company”

Conor McPherson, “Girl From the North Country”

Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, “Six: The Musical”

Christopher Wheeldon, “MJ”

Best Leading Actor in a Play

Simon Russell Beale, “The Lehman Trilogy”

Adam Godley, “The Lehman Trilogy”

Adrian Lester, “The Lehman Trilogy”

David Morse, “How I Learned to Drive”

Sam Rockwell, “American Buffalo”

Ruben Santiago-Hudson, “Lackawanna Blues”

David Threlfall, “Hangmen”

Best Leading Actress in a Play

Gabby Beans, “The Skin of Our Teeth”

LaChanze, “Trouble in Mind”

Ruth Negga, “Macbeth”

Deirdre O’Connell, “Dana. H”

Mary-Louise Parker, “How I Learned to Drive”

Best Leading Actor in a Musical

Billy Crystal, “Mr. Saturday Night”

Myles Frost, “MJ”

Hugh Jackman, “The Music Man”

Rob McClure, “Mrs. Doubtfire”

Jaquel Spivey, “A Strange Loop”

Best Leading Actress in a Musical

Sharon D Clarke, “Caroline, or Change”

Carmen Cusack, “Flying Over Sunset”

Sutton Foster, “The Music Man”

Joaquina Kalukango, “Paradise Square”

Mare Winningham, “Girl From the North Country”

Best Featured Actor in a Play

Alfie Allen, “Hangmen”

Chuck Cooper, “Trouble in Mind”

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Take Me Out”

Ron Cephas Jones, “Clyde’s”

Michael Oberholtzer, “Take Me Out”

Jesse Williams, “Take Me Out”

Best Featured Actress in a Play

Uzo Aduba, “Clyde’s”

Rachel Dratch, “POTUS”

Kenita R. Miller, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf”

Phylicia Rashad, “Skeleton Crew”

Julie White, “POTUS”

Kara Young, “Clyde’s”

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Matt Doyle, “Company”

Sidney DuPont, “Paradise Square”

Jared Grimes, “Funny Girl”

John-Andrew Morrison, “A Strange Loop”

A.J. Shively, “Paradise Square”

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Jeannette Bayardelle, “Girl From the North Country”

Shoshana Bean, “Mr. Saturday Night”

Jayne Houdyshell, “The Music Man”

L Morgan Lee, “A Strange Loop”

Patti LuPone, “Company”

Jennifer Simard, “Company”

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Beowulf Boritt, “POTUS”

Es Devlin, “The Lehman Trilogy”

Anna Fleischle, “Hangmen”

Michael Carnahan and Nicholas Hussong, “Skeleton Crew”

Scott Pask, “American Buffalo”

Tony Awards: The Best New Musical Nominees
The 2022 nominees. The race for best new musical at the Tony Awards — traditionally the most financially beneficial prize — is a broad six-way contest this year. Here’s a closer look at each nominee:

“Girl From the North Country” This musical combines the songs of Bob Dylan with a fictional story about a crowded boardinghouse during the Great Depression in the Minnesota city where Dylan was born.

“MJ” This biographical jukebox musical follows Michael Jackson as he prepares for a world tour, but it sidesteps the sexual abuse allegations against the pop star.

“Mr. Saturday Night” Based on a 1992 movie, this musical features Billy Crystal returning to the role of Buddy Young Jr., a has-been comic who is hungering for a comeback and reconnecting with family.

“Paradise Square” In a show that explores shifting race relations, the love between Black and Irish New Yorkers in a Manhattan bar is threatened during the Civil War draft riots of 1863.

“Six: The Musical” This British pop musical about the wives of Henry VIII mixes 16th-century marital politics with 21st-century selfies and shade in a sing-off among six sassy divas.

“A Strange Loop” In this Pulitzer Prize-winning meta musical, a Black queer man who works as an usher on Broadway battles his demons and doubts while trying to write his own show.

Adam Rigg, “The Skin of Our Teeth”

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Beowulf Boritt and 59 Productions, “Flying Over Sunset”

Bunny Christie, “Company”

Arnulfo Maldonado, “A Strange Loop”

Derek McLane and Peter Nigrini, “MJ”

Allen Moyer, “Paradise Square”

Best Costume Design of a Play

Montana Levi Blanco, “The Skin of Our Teeth”

Sarafina Bush, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf”

Jane Greenwood, “Plaza Suite”

Jennifer Moeller, “Clyde’s”

Emilio Sosa, “Skeleton Crew”

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Fly Davis, “Caroline, or Change”

Toni-Leslie James, “Paradise Square”

William Ivey Long, “Diana, the Musical”

Santo Loquasto, “The Music Man”

Gabriella Slade, “Six: The Musical”

Paul Tazewell, “MJ”

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Joshua Carr, “Hangmen”

Jiyoun Chang, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf”

Jon Clark, “The Lehman Trilogy”

Jane Cox, “Macbeth”

Yi Zhao, “The Skin of Our Teeth”

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Neil Austin, “Company”

Tim Deiling, “Six: The Musical”

Donald Holder, “Paradise Square”

Natasha Katz, “MJ”

Bradley King, “Flying Over Sunset”

Jen Schriever, “A Strange Loop”

Best Sound Design of a Play

Nick Powell and Dominic Bilkey, “The Lehman Trilogy”

Justin Ellington, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf”

Mikhail Fiksel, “Dana H.”

Palmer Hefferan, “The Skin of Our Teeth”

Mikaal Sulaiman, “Macbeth”

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Simon Baker, “Girl From the North Country”

Ian Dickinson for Autograph, “Company”

Paul Gatehouse, “Six: The Musical”

Drew Levy, “A Strange Loop”

Gareth Owen, “MJ”

Best Choreography

Camille A. Brown, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf”

Warren Carlyle, “The Music Man”

Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, “Six: The Musical”

Bill T. Jones, “Paradise Square”

Christopher Wheeldon, “MJ”


‘The Kite Runner’ Is Coming to Broadway

From The New York Times

A stage adaptation of the best-selling novel “The Kite Runner” will be presented on Broadway in July.

The play, which began its life in California in 2007 and has been widely produced since, is planning a limited run, from July 6 to Oct. 30.

The announcement is encouraging news for Broadway, which has been clobbered by closings as the coronavirus pandemic continues to roil the industry. But there remain many producers with the appetite and the financing to bring new shows to Broadway as others end their runs.

The “Kite Runner” novel, written by Khaled Hosseini and published in 2003, is a coming-of-age story about a man born in Afghanistan whose life is haunted by his failure to protect a childhood friend. The novel, a surprise hit, has sold millions of copies worldwide, and was adapted into a film in 2007.

The theatrical adaptation was written by Matthew Spangler, and was first staged in 2007 at San José State University, where Spangler teaches performance studies. It had an initial professional production in 2009 at the San Jose Repertory Theater, which no longer exists, and has since been staged in multiple countries around the world.

The Broadway version will be directed by Giles Croft, who has been directing productions of the play since 2013, when he oversaw a run for the Nottingham Playhouse in Britain; he has since directed productions in the West End and on tour in Britain.

The play is slated to run at the Hayes Theater, which, with 600 seats, is the smallest on Broadway. The theater is owned by the nonprofit Second Stage Theater, which will rent the space to “The Kite Runner.”

The lead producers are Victoria Lang and Ryan BognerDaryl Roth will serve as executive producer. According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the producers are seeking to raise up to $5.75 million, but a spokesman said that the actual Broadway capitalization is likely to be closer to $4.6 million.

RIVERDANCE 25th Anniversary Show Dancing to the La Crosse Center

Abhann Productions is proud to announce the return of Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show, which will tour over 40 cities across North America in four months, beginning on March 4, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah and includes a stop in La Crosse at La Crosse Center on Sunday, May 22, 2022. Tickets for Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show go on sale this Friday, February 25, 2022, 11am at Director John McColgan said, “We have assembled an extraordinary company of performers and we are thrilled for this brand new 25th anniversary production of Riverdance to be on the road again welcoming audiences back to the theatre.” The cast will include lead dancers Amy-Mae Dolan, Will Bryant, Maggie Darlington, Anna Mai Fitzpatrick, Fergus Fitzpatrick, James Greenan and Meadhbh Kennedy, troupe members Brandon Asazawa, Belle Brenton, Kieran Bryant, Morgan Bullock, Gerard Byrne, Keeva Correy, Matthew Gardiner, Michael Gardiner, Emma Mannion, Jordan McCormick, Faith Moore, Olivia Nactigal, Cian Porter, Dylan Scholls Zoe Talbot, Mairead Trainor and Elle-Mae Wheeler,
Russian dancers Ana Turcan, Eugeniu Turcan, Christine Lesnikova and Alexander Safonov, tappers Tyler Knowlin and Dharmesh Patel, and Flamenco dancer Rocio Dumset.
The company includes TikTok sensations Matthew and Michael Gardiner (@gardinerbrothers) and Morgan Bullock (@yourangleyuordevil), whose performance of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage Remix” went viral on the platform in 2020 and will make her professional US stage debut in this production. The cast will also feature, for the first time, children of original Riverdance cast members, Cian Porter and Faith Moore.
Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show is Riverdance, as you’ve never seen it before! A powerful and stirring reinvention of this beloved favorite, celebrated the world over for its Grammy Award-winning score and the thrilling energy and passion of its Irish and international dance. Twenty-five years on, composer Bill Whelan has rerecorded his mesmerizing soundtrack while producer Moya Doherty and director John McColgan have completely reimagined the ground-breaking show with innovative and spectacular lighting, projection, stage and costume designs.
Immerse yourself in the extraordinary power and grace of its music and dance–beloved by fans of all ages. Fall in love with the magic of Riverdance all over again.
The critically acclaimed 25th Anniversary North American Tour was shut down in March 2020 during a sold-out return engagement to New York City’s Radio City Music Hall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Riverdance celebrated a return to the stage in the United Kingdom, where the iconic show played to sold out audiences in 27 cities across the country. Then followed its debut at Expo 2020 Dubai with a special production of Riverdance presenting a multi-cultural experience including artists from the Middle East region. A highlight of the four-week run was the Riverdance performance at the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai for their Thanksgiving Day celebrations.
Riverdance The Animated Adventure was released on Netflix in the United States on January 14, 2022, where it swiftly landed a spot on the streamer’s Global Top 10 list. With an original score by Grammy Award-winning composer Bill Whelan, the animated musical comedy features the incredible craft and skill of the Riverdance troupe by utilizing motion capture of their performances to create the animated dancing in the film. Tour lead dancers Maggie Darlington and Anna Mai Fitzpatrick and Executive Producer/Director Padraic Moyles were involved with the dance production for the film, while tour musicians Mark Alfred and Tara Howley play on the film score.
Riverdance began its journey as the interval act in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, produced for television by Moya Doherty. This electrifying and innovative seven-minute dance piece was then developed into a full-length stage show by Producer Moya Doherty, Composer Bill Whelan and Director John McColgan. With its fusion of Irish and International music and dance, the show broke all box office records during its world première run in Dublin in early 1995. When the show transferred to London the reaction was unprecedented. There followed a hugely successful tour starting in New York in March 1996, where 8 sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall heralded the start of more than two decades of touring by Riverdance companies throughout North America. Since its inception, Riverdance has packed theatres throughout North America, Oceania, Asia, Europe, South Africa and South America.
Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show has been designed by lead designer Peter Canning, featuring Set by Alan Farquharson, Lighting by Andrew Voller and Video by Cosmo AV along with Costumes by Joan Bergin and Sound by Michael O’Gorman.
For more information, please visit:
Facebook: @Riverdance
Twitter: @Riverdance
Instagram: @Riverdance
TikTok: @Riverdance25
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New Musical Paradise Square Announces Full Broadway Cast

Broadway Buzz by Citlin Moyniham

The new musical Paradise Square, which recently concluded its pre-Broadway run at Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre, has announced its complete casting. The production, directed by Moisés Kaufman, begins performances at the Barrymore Theatre on March 15 with opening night set for April 3. Bill T. Jones choreographs the show, which was conceived by Larry Kirwan.

Paradise Square stars Joaquina Kalukango, Chilina Kennedy, John Dossett, Sidney DuPont, A.J. Shively, Nathaniel Stampley, Gabrielle McClinton, Jacob Fishel, Matt Bogart and Kevin Dennis, who all headlined the Chicago run. Aisha Jackson serves as the standby for Kalukango. The ensemble features Garrett Coleman, Jason Oremus, Colin Barkell, Karen Burthwright, Kennedy Caughell, Dwayne Clark, Conor Coleman, Eric Craig, Colin Cunliffe, Chloe Davis, Josh Davis, Bernard Dotson, Jamal Christopher Douglas, Camille Eanga-Selenge, Sam Edgerly, Shiloh Goodin, Sean Jenness, Joshua Keith, Jay McKenzie, Ben Michael, Kayla Pecchioni, Eilis Quinn, Lee Siegel, Erica Spyres, Lael van Keuren, Sir Brock Warren, Alan Wiggins, Kristen Beth Williams and Hailee Kaleem Wright.

Within this galvanizing story of racial harmony undone by a country at war with itself, audiences will meet the denizens of a local saloon called Paradise Square in this show. They include Nelly O’Brien (Kalukango), the indomitable Black woman who owns it; Annie Lewis (Kennedy), her Irish-Catholic sister-in-law and her Black minister husband, Rev. Samuel Jacob Lewis (Stampley); Willie O’Brien (Matt Bogart), Nelly’s Irish husband, who is off fighting for the Union army; Owen Duignan (Shively), a conflicted newly arrived Irish immigrant; Washington Henry (DuPont), a fearless freedom seeker; Frederic Tiggens (Dossett), an anti-abolitionist political boss, and Milton Moore (Fishel), a penniless songwriter trying to capture it all. They have conflicting notions of what it means to be an American while living through one of the most tumultuous eras in our country’s history.

Paradise Square features a book co-written by Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas and Larry Kirwan. The music is by Jason Howland and Kirwan, with lyrics by Nathan Tysen and additional material by Masi Asare. Graciela Daniele provides the musical staging, in collaboration with Kaufman and Jones.

The creative team includes scenic designer Allen Moyer, costume designer Toni-Leslie James, lighting designer Donald Holder, sound designer Jon Weston, hair and wig designer Matthew B. Armentrout, associate choreographers Talli Jackson and Gelan Lambert and projection designer Wendall K. Harrington with special effects by Gregory Meeh. Irish and Hammerstep choreography is by Garrett Coleman and Jason Oremus.

The world premiere of Paradise Square was produced in January 2019 by Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The musical is based on Hard Times, conceived by Kirwan, which was originally presented off-Broadway in 2012.

Watch Kalukango, Kennedy and more sing the musical’s opening number below!

Christian Science Monitor’s Iris Fanger ‘Paradise Square’ Review, “A new Broadway musical uses the power of dance to tell the story of a lively, integrated community in mid-19th century New York.”

By Iris Fanger

Christian Science Monitor

January 17, 2022


As soon as the overture to the new musical “Paradise Square” started up, the audience began cheering. It was the first show with live actors onstage at Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre in nearly two years.


I was in Chicago where the show was having its tryout run in November, ahead

of its expected late-February opening on Broadway.


“Paradise Square,” with a new book and score, will be a rarity this season. It’s an

original musical – not a stage version of an existing movie property, like “Aladdin,” nor

a jukebox musical based on a singer’s work such as “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.”


I was especially excited to see the work of lead choreographer Bill T. Jones, a Tony-winning veteran of two Broadway shows, as well as the director of a contemporary dance company. I was intrigued by the big intentions of the musical: lots of spectacle, a large cast, and the promise of a good story. What I did not expect, as I watched the Civil War saga unfold, was the relevance of the subject matter, despite reaching back more than 150 years in American history.


The musical, set in 1863 in the gritty Five Points area of New York, follows the fortunes of two groups – a community of free Black people and an enclave of Irish immigrants. The people work alongside each other, gather at the Paradise Square saloon, and occasionally intermarry. These marriages across racial lines are only two components in a complicated plot that involves abolitionists, a newly arrived Irish immigrant, and a man who had escaped from slavery.


To grasp more of the history behind “Paradise Square,” I spoke by phone with director Moisés Kaufman and associate choreographer Gelan Lambert. I was also able to connect by email with Joaquina Kalukango, who plays the central character, Nelly, owner of the saloon.


“One of the most beautiful things about this story is that, way before we think of it, Americans had tried to come together,” Mr. Kaufman says. “It was the precursor of our desire to live in a community.”


The interwoven plotlines are brought to life by a splendid cast of 38 performers who showcase dance from both African and Irish traditions. “The dancing helps tell the story,” Mr. Kaufman says.


The choreography of Mr. Jones involves a fusion of cultural inspirations – from the rituals that enslaved Africans brought to America to Irish step dancing.


Garrett Coleman and Jason Oremus play the lead Irish roles and created the Irish dancing on stage. We see the two groups gradually borrow from each other: the Irish performers bend and thrust their bodies in freer movements; the Black dancers find ways to vary their footwork from stomping to quicker, lighter stepping – a vibrant integration of different rhythms and a melding of one tradition into another that ultimately would lead to the new American form called tap.


“The people who came [to America] were seeing the dances of the others they met,” says Mr. Lambert. “I do believe they appropriated styles and they shared by watching and looking. ‘Appropriation’ means taking something and making it your own,” he adds. A dance-off, in which an escaped enslaved man and a young Irish immigrant compete to win a large sum of money, is a highlight of “Paradise Square.”


But beyond the roistering and friendly competition at Nelly’s tavern, a storm is brewing. A white politician views Nelly’s establishment as the place where white and Black people can come together and he sets out to destroy it, in fear of the combined power of the

two groups. “The African Americans and the Irish immigrants were considered

dirt by the upper classes,” observes Mr. Kaufman, the director.


The wily politician successfully exploits the frustration and anger of a returning soldier, an Irish immigrant who can’t find work, by convincing him that free Black men have taken his job. This conflict, set against the background of city-wide protests against a draft order by President Abraham Lincoln, touches off riots in Five Points.


The parallels to our own time could not be clearer, despite being clothed in colorful period costumes and scenery. The musical underscores the point that, as in mid-19th century New York, the issues of racial injustice, class conflict, the plight of immigrants, and the struggle for equality continue to roil society. Like the blockbuster “Hamilton,” it reaches back into history to illuminate key areas where America has fallen short of its promise.


The music was composed by Jason Howland, with additions to the score by Larry Kirwan, the originator of the work, which began its life as the 2012 musical “Hard Times.” Mr. Howland incorporates elements of Civil War-era tunes by Stephen Foster such as “Oh! Susanna” and “Camptown Races,” along with Irish dance music, patriotic anthems, and soaring power ballads. Foster, who lived for a time in Five Points, is also a character in the show.


The two outstanding numbers are the dance competition and Nelly’s song after the riots are over, the scorching “Let It Burn” (sung by the powerfully voiced and expressive Ms. Kalukango). I found “Paradise Square” to be an enthralling spectacle of American history even though critical reactions in Chicago were mixed. Some reviewers suggested that the musical needs more work to sort out its cat’s cradle of plotlines. I agree, but I still think the show is a winner, in the manner of “Ragtime,” another period musical that was characterized by an uprising in the face of inequality and prejudice.


Whatever changes may occur to the musical in its transfer to Broadway, one thing that won’t be diminished is the energy and urgency of its performances, especially that of Ms. Kalukango. Her Nelly is the moral and emotional center around which “Paradise Square” revolves. I asked her via email if there’s a happy ending to her character’s story.


“Happy would not be the word I would use,” she wrote in reply. “What I will say is that her future is full of possibilities. Nelly is not the type to be defeated for too long, so the end is a reset for her. To start anew with a new dream.”


Iris Fanger is an arts journalist who writes on dance and theater.“Paradise Square” is

expected to begin previews at the Barrymore Theatre in New York on Feb. 22 and is slated to open on March 20. Tickets are on sale through Nov. 27, 2022.

RAIN: A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES coming to Huntington, WV

RAIN – A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES presents The Best of Abbey Road Live! In celebration of Abbey RoadRAIN will bring the greatest hits to life in addition to all your early favorites. The Celebration stops in Huntington at the Mountain Health Arena on Thursday, March 17th and tickets go on sale this Friday (1/21/22), 10am at!


This mind-blowing performance takes you back in time with the legendary foursome delivering a note-for-note theatrical event that is “the next best thing to seeing The Beatles!” (Associated Press). Experience the worlds’ most iconic band and come celebrate The Best of Abbey Road Live with RAIN – A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES. In addition to the updated sets that include state of the art LED, high-definition screens and multimedia content, RAIN will bring the Abbey Road album to life with the launch of the 2021 Tour.


Together longer than The Beatles, RAIN has mastered every song, gesture and nuance of the legendary foursome, delivering a totally live, note-for-note performance that’s as infectious as it is transporting. Let RAIN take you back with all of the greatest hits along with all of your other Beatles favorites! This adoring tribute will take you back to a time when all you needed was love, and a little help from your friends!


Like The Beatles, the onstage members of RAIN are not only supreme musicians, but electrifying performers in their own right!


For more information on tour dates, and tickets, please visit: