An independent show guide not a venue or show. All tickets 100% guaranteed, some are resale, prices may be above face value. We're an independent show guide not a venue or show. We sell primary, discount and resale tickets, all 100% guaranteed prices may be above face value. We are an independent show guide not a venue or show. We sell primary, discount and resale tickets, all 100% guaranteed and they may be priced above or below face value.

Paradise Square Reviews

Broadway ShowsPre BroadwayMusicals2022 Tony Winners2022 Tony Nominees

Average customer review: 3.0 star rating (3.2 Stars)

Number of reviews: 18



5.0 star rating Dennis Roberts from Wilmette, Illinois


Paradise Square offers an idealization we need to embrace. The stratification of race and class leading up to the U.S. Civil War are set aside as "Breath easy" (terrific song!) asserts freedom as the shared dream among Irish immigrants and African American freedmen and escaped slaves. Threatened by the grassroots power of the Five Points neighborhood, NYC "Uptown" elites exploit their privilege to avoid military service, which leads to the disruption of the camaraderie of patrons at Nelly's bar. "Let it Burn" (with a phenomenal performance by Joaquina Kalukango) offers a cataclysmic climax as Nelly sees her bar and neighborhood destroyed. Out of the ashes, the people of Paradise Square renew their solidarity in a difficult time and place. Most importantly, their bond offers an example of how victimized and powerless people can create change for themselves and others.

5.0 star rating Cheryl from South Texas was visiting Chicago


Saw this the day after Thanksgiving and so glad we chose to see this and not listen to some of the reviews. Bring your COVID vaccination card. My husband didn’t have his and was not let in. This show seriously blew me and my daughter away. The voices are powerful, so powerful that I literally jumped out of my chair before Let it Burn was finished to applaud, a few of us did then the whole theater followed. The dancing will captivate you the entire time! Anyone that said this musical dragged on must have a very low attention span. The story and characters are extremely interesting and not once did this musical seem slow to us. My daughter and I agreed this was one of the best musicals we have seen and we have seen many. We both agreed we would see it again and told my husband after he missed a great one!

5.0 star rating Toby Golick from New York, New York


Saw the NY show in previews. Beautiful score and great dancing, with a first-rate cast. The account of Irish and Black politics of the time was fascinating. The audience and I loved it.

5.0 star rating Wanda💞 from New York, New York


It was nice seeing how Irish and Black folks fought in the war. Seems to me, black people were always being attacked. The shows message was great. The singing, costumes, and dancing was on point. It was simply great. Also loved how women were cast as strong and decision makers. The men did an awesome job, too. The tap dancers great. It was just nice. Praise God. Some much talent. The show touched my spirit. ✌🏾🤗💕

4.0 star rating Li Wright from Chicago, Illinois


Just came from the show and the music was lively and really told the story well. However, I didn't feel the choreography was THAT great and I know Bill Jones is the choreographer. But some of the dancing seemed to repeat itself over and over. The lead actress, Joaquina) has the perfect Broadway voice. Big and robust. The set decorations weren't spectacular, maybe so as to not overwhelm the story. At times I think they spent too much time on the runaway slave's story. It seemed to detract from the other stories. Overall, when it came to an end, everything seemed to wrap up nicely.

4.0 star rating T. Clark from Glenview, Illinois


Paradise Square is a local pub where recent Irish immigrants and freeborn black Americans or freed slaves share drinks, dances, and hopes for achieving the American dream. The story was intriguingly expansive, the music and the choreography are great, the performers had excellent voices, the dancers were excellent. There was not a weak performance and the lead actor - Joaquina Kalukango has an excellent voice and her 11 o'clock number (Let It Burn) deservedly brought the house down. Her earlier number, Welcome Home was emotional and poignant. The story dwells on dance, the issues of immigration, slavery, the horrors of war, a lack of economic opportunity and equality. To me, it felt longer than the 2 1/2 performance time and the time spent on the angry soldier or the Union draft could have been reduced significantly without loss of impact. Additional editing could come from three unnecessary moments involving two women who were revealed to be lovers but I was left wondering what was their role in the story. I think Paradise Square has a lot of potential and with editing it will be a show well-worth experiencing.

4.0 star rating AP Cook from Chicago, Illinois


I truly don't understand the bad reviews of this show. There were so many great characters, great songs, and choreography. I was never bored, and it was great to see a play that digs into part of the darker elements of U.S. history. The Riots tore apart this black community, causing thousands to flee. It provides a timely response to the ever present, but my Irish Ancestors were discriminated against too. A great story can be one that educates and entertains. This did both! My only criticism was some of the choreography. I agree that at times it was repetitive. But to see tap, ballet, Irish, African, and African American styles all on one stage? That was something.

4.0 star rating Robert from New York, New York


Although this show may have its flaws it as well acted the singing is fabulous and the actors do a great job. I recommend this for a fun night out, forget the reviews this is worth it .

3.0 star rating KBE from Chicago, Illinois


Unfortunately, this show was a disappointment. Although there were a few shining moments, there was little to keep us enthralled with this musical. The choreography was entertaining, although it seemed as though quite a bit of it was repetitive. There were really no weak performances; just a weak script and a lackluster set. Overall, this show needs a lot of work prior to a Broadway opening. It just doesn't emotionally involve the audience and there was a lack of focus in the script. I never felt connected to any of the characters.

3.0 star rating P.J. from Chicago, Illinois


Just came from the show. As other reviews have said, the lead actress is fabulous. The show, however, drags and seems longer than the 2 hours and 45 minutes. There isn't a lot of variation in the music and staging - a lack of building crescendos in story line music but some said moments. It does feel like it needs editing - not EVERY theme needs explored. And the spinning of the saloon set seemed unnecessary at times and hard to discern if the actors were inside or outside -and if it was relevant. While dance seems important to the story, separate dance numbers are sprinkled throughout the show way too much. And why do the dancers have to sing in a dance contest? And repeat a song? Hoping the producer and director make modifications to make this a tighter and more dynamic show.

3.0 star rating Anonymous from Chicago, Illinois


Come for the immensely talented cast. You'll see first-rate dancing and hear powerful singing backed by an excellent orchestra. The plot holds so much promise: a 19th century enclave in which free Blacks and poor Irish immigrants live with dignity, united in friendship and intermarriage, even influencing the culture through music and dance. However, the plot is disjointed, and contemporary identity politics looms large, yielding speeches that would be incomprehensible to the nineteenth-century Americans portrayed. One's virtue and status comes from the degree to which one's identity group has been oppressed. Several Irish characters are round, but every Black character is flat, without a single flaw. Black characters have the last, triumphant word in every conflict. The creative mixing of artistic traditions could not be celebrated due to a fear of cultural appropriation. The climactic song ("Let it Burn") made no sense in the plot except to give tacit approval to violent protests.

2.0 star rating D.I. from Chicago, Illinois


Despite some brilliant performances, as well as fabulous dancing and production values, the potentially inspiring, beautiful idea behind "Paradise Square" falls victim to a book and lyrics that would make a high school student blush. There is no tension, no character development, and not one truly moving moment in this (very long) evening. Making things worse is a score which, although beautifully orchestrated, is completely absent of any emotional content or even one memorable song, though it is only fair to say that the complete lack of any inspiring lyrics did not help the composer. The good news is that this show can still be saved before it gets to New York if the lyrics and score are substantially improved, the dialogue overhauled, and the ridiculous device of having the main character narrate the beginning and end (apparently, needed an explanation of why the play is important and what it means) is removed. There is hope, but the producers better get moving quickly.

2.0 star rating David Edelberg from Chicago, Illinois


Here is one show that has an incredibly talented cast bogged down by a boring overly long book and several songs whose absence would not be missed in the least. Although the choreography was excellent, you began to think you were watching the same routines over and over again. Positives were the strengths of the singers, the skills of the dancers. But on my left, the female audience member fell asleep and snored. On my right, my wife mumbled "We ought to have left at half-time."

2.0 star rating Mary Jacobsen from Oak Park, Illinois


I think the energy of Hamilton has ruined me for other historical Broadway shows. It felt like the energy was being held back, amateur Irish dancing and repetitive choreography overall. I would be surprised if this makes it on Broadway. The storyline was minimal and no connection to characters. And I really didn’t understand their repetitive put down of Lincoln all the while wanting freedom. Dodging the draft by immigrants endorsed. Freedom isn’t free.

2.0 star rating Lillian Goodman from Chicago, Illinois


I wish they had a refund policy. After giving in to what seems like endless ads for this show, we bought tickets and then found out everyone in our row had free tickets. I found the show uneven, preachy and often dull. After the show, i sat around to discuss the show with some of the other patrons and we all agreed it did not work and NOTHING was memorable. On our way out, a group of men were huddled in the back of theater and they were arguing about mistakes and other issues. Another thing, it was too long, STOP BORING US, we are old, we like brevity.

2.0 star rating BMR from Chicago, Illinois


Fan of musical theater and went to see during opening week first week in CHI. The leading ladies were definitely the best parts of the show, where Ms. Kalukongo carries this show with an assist from Ms. Kennedy when the script allows her. Though Joaquina is able to give us a great 11 o'clock number, it cannot patch up the numerous issues, including: too many characters, **plot points that never come up again/add nothing to the story** (why bother with Faustus at all?), flat villain characters, recycled yet unremarkable music, and busy staging especially during dance breaks. The supporting cast clearly tries their best to make us care, but we never feel a connection. Dancing was good. Just seems like someone saw Hamilton and tried to recycle the historical musical. Became very bored in the second act and began counting down the remaining numbers...I was shocked to find out it was going to Broadway and predict it wont last much past previews. Pass on this if tickets are more than $40.

2.0 star rating John Fitzgerald from Chicago, Illinois


When the book of a show has five writers something is amiss. This musical is lush, filled with talent. Unfortunately the story is all over the place, character development is weak, the songs don't drive the narrative, and the Stephen Fostor connection is tenuous, boring and unnecessary. Far to long at 2 and a half hours, needs to be trimmed by at least 30 minutes. Broadway is in need of a super smash, unfortunately this isn't it.

1.0 star rating Harrison Taylor from Chicago, Illinois


Beyond boring, I found this history lesson filled with cliches and very dated. After nearly two years of a pandemic, this is a stale escape and not very good. A sad waste of a talented cast


What you thought

Seen Paradise Square? Loved it? Hated it?

Help your fellow New York City Theater visitors by leaving the first review. Everyone will love you for it, we promise!

Write a review now


Venue home

Venue home







Additional Information

seating chart
SeatingSeating map

Spread the word

Sound good to you? Share this page on social media and let your friends know about Paradise Square at Ethel Barrymore Theater.

Keep up to date

I want email news and updates for events in my area! Read how we protect your data.

Please note: The term Ethel Barrymore Theater and/or Paradise Square as well as all associated graphics, logos, and/or other trademarks, tradenames or copyrights are the property of the Ethel Barrymore Theater and/or Paradise Square and are used herein for factual descriptive purposes only. We are in no way associated with or authorized by the Ethel Barrymore Theater and/or Paradise Square and neither that entity nor any of its affiliates have licensed or endorsed us to sell tickets, goods and or services in conjunction with their events.