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Paradise Square Reviews


Average customer review: 3.5 star rating (3.3 Stars)

Number of reviews: 9



5.0 star rating Colleen Sullivan from Berkeley, Ca


This musical is inspiring, beautiful, thought provoking and original!!!! My husband, ( who is not a fan of musicals), and I left the theatre shocked by the talent of the actors and actresses in the production. I loved the historical facts given and the tie in to the problems with race we are facing in our country today. I will be seeing this again - and bringing friends. Wow - thanks for a great night out and a new aspect of history brought to life!!!! (“Nelly” had the most unbelievable voice ........!!!)

5.0 star rating Kathy Kramer from San Pablo, California


My husband, daughter, and I saw "Paradise Square" last night at Berkeley Rep. Everything about it was terrific; the dancing, singing music, sets, and the intriguing storyline, which brought history to life. The Roda Theater at Berkeley Rep is small, and there isn't a bad seat in the house. Our daughter is ten; this was a great way to learn about an event in American history we knew nothing about. She enjoyed the performance as much as her Dad and I did. This play received the standing ovation it deserved; Don't miss it!

1.0 star rating J.L. Kincaid from Mill Valley, California


Berkeley Reps opening night of previews of Paradise Square revealed a visual dearth of color or excitement. The black stage with industrial black sets provided a dreary visual backdrop for characters who similarly were clothed in shades of brown making for a visual boredom punctuated by individual dances and songs but a lack of compelling interest in the storyline in this much too long slog. The first act on Thursday ran for 1 3/4 hours. How much can an audience take? There was no forward momentum in whatever story lies buried in the script. The theater itself has very close seating with knees right up against the seat in front, making for uncomfortable seating for such a long period. The show badly needs color and a set that has more than a revolving black contraption in its center. Individual dance and vocal skill was displayed amidst nondescript play. A very dull process all around. Hasn't anyone seen The Lion King? Color works wonders. This one isn't going to Broadway like this.

3.0 star rating Linda Longstreet from Mill Valley, California


Amazing talent, singing, dancing, energy and a story with which many of us are unfamiliar. For us, the first half was way too long, 1hr 45 min, sitting in cramped chairs. The stage setting was dark, as were the costumes, and never changing, which got tiring after that length of time. The talent was there, no doubt, but our attention was lost and we kept longing for the intermission so we could get up and work out our cramps. It is a piece that takes place in 1863, in a poverty community of mixed races, which is a very timely story telling in this day and age. It was thought provoking and we enjoyed it with the exception of the length of the first half. We were not able to make the second half and were disappointed in that. I do not think that young children would understand this play, but teenagers definitely would benefit. We love Berkley and there are multiple choices of restaurants nearby the Theater. There is also a wonderful Book Store on the corner of Addison/ Shattuck.

2.0 star rating Jack Gohff from San Francisco, California


Eh. It was eh. The dancing and choreography was quite good, but not enough to save it from its mediocre writing. The idea was interesting, a tavern that enables you to tell the story of both blacks and Irish, but I feel it was not fully fleshed out in the writing process and was lacking in any real content. I found myself knowing the story before it was told. There are alot of stand out hits about race, but this is not one of them. I found it ultimately added nothing new to the conversation and traveled safely on well worn ground. However, as I've said, the music and choreography are quite good. Does it make it worth seeing? As a dance performance? Yes. As a play? No. Broadway contender this is not

5.0 star rating Carol Fusco from San Francisco, California


I said to my husband as we left the theater "Well, this is certainly headed to Broadway!" I loved everything about it. I'm a New Yorker and I never knew this vibrant part of my city's history. The actor's were wonderful, the singing beautiful. I loved the reworking of Foster's music. The dance is exceptional. I don't understand the criticism of the set - it served the narrative perfectly to my mind. I'm sooooo glad I didn't read the Chronicle review - totally, in my opinion, misses on almost all counts. I believe they also panned An Evening with Miao Miao, which was another Berkeley Rep production a few seasons ago that also as deeply moving as it was entertaining! Paradise Square is amazing. Go see it!

2.0 star rating from San Francisco, California


Of course the singing and the dancing were quite lovely, however the acting was not believable at all. Not to mention that the play was ultimately about Stephen Foster, who became the center of the play despite the overtures of the racist content of his songs. Although tensions were felt, there was very little emphasis and empathy for the African Americans that had to leave dangerous conditions of the south. There was very little mention of the trauma of slavery and not so much about the Irish either. Also, Stephen Foster didn't come out as controversial; he came out as a sympathetic character, a martyr. This is disturbing given the fact that the play consistently alluded to the appropriation of people's stories and racism. I'd be more interested to have an African American be the center of the story-one whose story we don't know about because his/her story was appropriated by those like Stephen Foster.


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