EXCLUSIVE: Paradise Square, the new Broadway-bound musical from producer Garth H. Drabinsky set during the history-making New York Draft Riots of the 1860s, will arrive at the Barrymore Theatre in February with several news songs added since its 2019 West Coast incarnation, including an anthemic new musical number that can’t help but summon thoughts of the galvanizing response to recent racial discord: The new number is called “Breathe Easy.”
In this new music video, debuting on Deadline, listeners can hear what Broadway audiences have in store.
The musical features a book by Christina Anderson, Marcus Gardley, Craig Lucas and Larry Kirwan, and a score by Jason Howland, Nathan Tysen & Masi Asare, with additional material provided by Kirwan. The new song was written by Howland (music) and Tysen & Asare (lyrics).
In the video, recorded at New York City’s Sear Sound, the number – which includes lines like “In your breath is freedom” and “no eyes in the back of our heads/soon we won’t need ’em” – is performed by the musical’s Gabrielle McClinton (Pippin) and Sidney DuPont (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), with Bernard Dotson, Jamal Christopher Douglas, Jacobi Hall, Kayla Pecchioni, Lee Siegel, Jay McKenzie, Chloe Davis, Alan Wiggins and Hailee Kaleem Wright.
“The first time I heard it, I was immediately taken aback,” said DuPont, who will play Washington Henry in the musical. “Oftentimes we underestimate how much the pressures of life weigh on your shoulders and with ‘Breathe Easy,’ it reminds me that everything is going to be OK if you take a breath. If you really solidify yourself, you can get through just about anything. And I think that in the show, especially when that song comes, I don’t think there will be a dry eye in the house. I think everyone will feel it.”
McClinton, who will play a slave named Angelina Baker, describes ‘Breathe Easy’ as “freeing to sing.”
“And I think it doesn’t just fit into this show, it really fits into the world,” she said. “It literally says breathe easy. And I think especially after the past year and a half we’ve all had, we can remind ourselves to breathe easy. And I think for Angelina being a slave and being on this torturous journey, it’s her mantra.”
Composer Howland handled the recording’s musical and vocal arrangements, and musical direction and orchestrations. The recording was produced by Howland and Billy Jay Stein.
Paradise Square is set in New York City’s Five Points neighborhood of 1863, and chronicles the raucous dance contests between the area’s Irish and Black communities, and the racial equilibrium that came to a brutal end with the deadly NY Draft Riots. Moisés Kaufman will direct, and Bill T. Jones is the choreographer. Graciela Daniele will provide musical staging, in collaboration with Kaufman and Jones.
The Broadway production has also drawn considerable attention as the comeback vehicle for executive producer Garth H. Drabinsky, the once ubiquitous Canadian theater producer whose legal and financial transgressions resulted in a prison sentence in Canada. At his peak in the 1990s, Drabinsky produced such Broadway hits as Kiss of the Spider Woman, Show Boat, Ragtime and Fosse. For Paradise Square, Drabinsky will team with longtime colleague Peter LeDonne, who co-produces.
Paradise Square will begin Broadway previews at the Shubert Organization’s Barrymore Theatre on February 22, 2022, with an opening night set for Sunday, March 20.
Check out the new song above.
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