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The first entirely new Broadway show since the start of the pandemic will be about 19th century New York

'Paradise Square' will open next winter.

Anna Rahmanan

While New Yorkers gear up to return to Broadway and catch all the shows that had to suddenly close in response to the COVID-19 pandemic back in March (here are all the ones you can already buy tickets for), an entirely new production is now demanding our attention. Exploring race relations in 19th century New York, Paradise Square is a new musical set to open on the Great White Way next winter, effectively becoming the very first unscheduled show since the pandemic to announce an opening date.

As of now, previews are set to begin on February 22 at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on West 47th Street. The show will then open on March 20. 

More details about the plot: Set in 1863, smack-dab in the middle of the Civil War, the musical focuses on Lower Manhattan's Five Points neighborhood, where free Black and Irish immigrants live together. As much an exploration of the history of dance halls as it is about racial relations, the show's epicenter is Paradise Square, a local saloon owned by a Black woman named Nelly Freeman. 

"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," reads the show's official description.

Slave Play star and current Tony Award nominee Joaquina Kalukango will play Freeman in a cast that includes Sidney DuPont, Chilina Kennedy and Nathaniel Stampley, among others. Moisés Kaufman will serve as the production's director, Garth Drabinsky will produce and Jason Howland and Nathan Tysen are responsible for the show's score.

Ready or not, Broadway is plotting a huge comeback—and we're giddy with excitement at the mere thought of it. 

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