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Broadway Musical ‘Paradise Square’ to Close After Tony Win


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New musical Paradise Square will close on July 17, after garnering a Tony win for its leading actress, but struggling at the box office. 

The musical, which tells the story of Irish immigrants and Black Americans living together in New York City during the Civil War, opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on April 3. Since starting performances, the production has encountered a number of challenges, including performance cancellations due to COVID-19 cases in the cast, as well as low box office receipts throughout the run. 

In the most recent week of grosses, ended July 7, the production brought in just $300,000 and played to a capacity of 55 percent. The show brought in its highest gross on record, $387,669, in the week following the Tony Awards, where Joaquina Kalukango took home the award for best leading actress in a musical and delivered a stand-out performance of “Let It Burn,” which brought the audience at the ceremony to their feet. 

Still, that alone could not save the show. 

“We wanted to give Paradise Square every chance to succeed, but various challenges proved insurmountable. We endured two COVID shutdowns, including 13 days right after our opening night, which resulted in a crucial loss of marketing momentum. The show, produced after the start of the pandemic, was not eligible for SVOG funds and was without the benefit of indemnity as insurers would no longer cover new productions for losses due to COVID. Even with significant award recognition and the sensational performance delivered by Joaquina Kalukango and our cast on the Tony Awards broadcast, we only saw a modest bump at the box office,” producer Garth Drabinsky said in the press release. 

Many productions on Broadway this season have been grappling with the lower number of tourists in the city, which has hurt attendance and led to the impending closures of productions such as Come From Away and Dear Evan Hansen.

However, this particular production was followed by controversy from the start. This was meant to be the comeback for Drabinsky, who spent years in jail after being convicted of fraud and forgery in Ontario Superior Court. Drabinsky was formerly the chief executive of Livent, the theatrical production company behind shows such as Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Woman, and was convicted, alongside his business partner, for misstating the company’s financial statements between 1993 and 1998. 

The production, which was capitalized for up to $15 million, has been followed by reports of late payments to suppliers, and, as reported by The New York Times, an early contract dispute between Actors’ Equity and the production, in which the union instructed that actors not to show up for one day of rehearsals. 

The musical features direction by Moisés Kaufman and choreography by Bill T. Jones. The book is written by Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas and Larry Kirwan, with music by Jason Howland, lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Masi Asare, additional music by Larry Kirwan, and was inspired in part by the songs of Stephen Foster. 

A national tour of Paradise Square is being planned for the 2023-2024 season and international productions are also being planned. An original Broadway cast recording is scheduled to be released in September.

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