Paradise, a longtime 40s Detroit Jazz Club, holds many secrets. As those secrets gradually unfold, nothing is as it seems.
With multi-faceted direction by Elise Joyner and Logan Pitts, Gloucester Stage Company presents Dominique Morisseau’s noir drama Paradise Blue through Sunday, September 18 live and in person at Gloucester Stage, 267 E Main Street on Cape Ann in Gloucester, MA. The show has some adult language. The half moon stage and intimate venue does not have a bad seat in the house. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Though the show’s main focus didn’t seem immediately clear, many revelations piece the production together for its stunning conclusion that may leave you thinking about it long after the show is over.
Paradise Blue focuses on a group of people tied in one way or another to a jazz club/boarding house called Paradise, run exclusively by no-nonsense Blue, portrayed with guarded complexity by horn player Durrell Lyons. Now in danger of closing, the club has its own mysterious roots in Detroit and everyone in Blue’s world has a stake in the club’s future.
Paradise Blue taps into the cast’s multilayered personas as each character makes surprising choices as the show progresses. This complex and unpredictable production boasts strong performances with particular standouts from Destiny Deschaun Washington as Pumpkin and Alexandria Danielle King as Silver. Destiny Deschaun Washington infuses Pumpkin with warmth, humbleness and compassion towards everyone while consistently putting others first at times to her own detriment. Pumpkin’s maternal nature endears her to each cast member as she shares bittersweet and complicated moments with Blue and a natural camaraderie with James Ricardo Milord who only recently joined the cast, but kept up with the best of them as trusting and steadfast piano player Corn.
Chatty, curious, and hardworking, Pumpkin is the seeming antithesis to new tenant Silver, portrayed with blunt and worldly shrewdness by Alexandria Danielle King. Both Silver and P-Sam, depicted with agitated energy by Darian Michael Garey, possess a learned tenacity and restlessness from bitter past experiences. Darian Michael Garey exudes palpable energy while King simmers. Seeing these characters face conflict in their own unique way is a fascinating character study, but due to vastly differing perspectives, Pumpkin and Silver are particularly intriguing with each interaction.
Paradise Blue itself exudes its own restlessness in the Black Bottom neighborhood of Detroit which society considers the club a ‘blight.’ Word travels fast and gossip carries its own weight in this enigmatic neighborhood. Paradise Blue succinctly carries the tense and rueful undertones through Toni Sterling’s stirring lighting and Aubrey Dube’s soulful and bluesy sound design. Nia Safarr Banks’s sharp vintage suits and distinctive and colorful dresses pop against Janie Howland’s modest and earthy-colored set.
Paradise Blue is a powerful drama with grit and gall as each character pours their hopes into Paradise for a brighter future unsuspecting of what lies ahead.
Gloucester Stage Company presents Dominique Morisseau’s noir drama Paradise Blue through Sunday, September 18 live and in person at Gloucester Stage, 267 E Main Street on Cape Ann in Gloucester, MA. Click here for more information and for tickets.