Already closed | 2h 20m | Midtown W

Paradise Blue

From 142 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Entertaining, Great staging

About the show

The first production of Obie Award-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau’s Signature Residency is a timely look at the changes a community endures to find its resilience. More…

In 1949, Detroit’s Blackbottom neighborhood is gentrifying. Blue, a troubled trumpeter and the owner of Paradise Club, is torn between remaining in Blackbottom with his loyal lover Pumpkin and leaving behind a traumatic past. But when the arrival of a mysterious woman stirs up tensions, the fate of Paradise Club hangs in the balance.

Member Reviews (142)


Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Entertaining, Great staging
Avg Score

Enchanting, Absorbing, Funny, Resonant, Tragic

See it if 1949 black Detroit jazz club. Players try to save the club despite its owner’s mental illness. Deep characters & relationships. Good music.

Don't see it if You are looking for a lighter or happier story. You aren’t interested in issues of gentrification, mental illness, and female empowerment.

Ambitious, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Slow

See it if Morisseau's saga in post-WWII black Detroit is a jazz fugue rifting as a drama Expert stage craft by Santiago-Hudson covers overt melodrama

Don't see it if Plot covers too many themes & all seem to get short changed Nicholson's Blue gives us the rage sans tragedy but Smith steals drama as Corn

Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Riveting

See it if you're a fan of the playwright, curious about Detroit's jazz clubs & ambitions of black people in late 40's with great character profiles

Don't see it if you have no interest in Detroit or African-American history, don't like jazz, uninterested in sharp, authentic performances

Movingly reflects the blues notes of a dying black detroit community

See it if features aching blues music, characters speak in/move to blues rhythm, beautiful poetic script

Don't see it if characters stereotypes: siren, doormat, tormented soul; static production; weak actor playing central Blue role, minor characters steal show

Also Saw powerful Blair Underwood as "Blue" in the 2015 Williamstown produc... Read more Read less

Great staging, Great writing, Resonant, Funny, Profound

See it if you enjoy shows about the African-American experience, or are looking to complete Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit trilogy.

Don't see it if you don’t enjoy shows about struggling, working-class folks, or live gunshots on stage bother you.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you have never seen a play by Morisseau. She is one of the best of our up-and-coming writers. Acting, directing are both superb.

Don't see it if you are not interested in jazz or the plight of African-Americans in the late 1940's.

Brilliant ensemble acting, Funny, Great staging, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if Top notch acting is the premiere reason you love theatre ! You enjoy realistic plays that grab you from the first moment & don’t let go !

Don't see it if You are looking for light drama that washes over you and demands nothing from you. A “happily ever after” play is your thing.

Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if you enjoy a well acted and written play about black lives in Detroit during a period of transition; sympathetic and interesting characters;

Don't see it if you aren't interested in black issues in Detroit, dislike jazz; feel women should stay in "their place"; prefer musicals to real drama.

Great acting, Excellent ensemble cast, Writing captures voice of detroit black bottom, Emotionally impactful

See it if Land value greater than its entertainment value spells the death of the Paradise jazz and blues club and its ill-fated residents.

Don't see it if A flawed ending spoils your enjoyment of Morisseau’s powerful and tragic drama.

Disappointing, Great singing, Great staging, Great directing

See it if you love terrific acting.Keith Randolph Smith is a delight.Play has a weak ending but a terrific first 7/8ths!Ending makes no real sense.

Don't see it if you hate serious plays about African Americans.With strong hints of August Wilson,the play explores the loss of black communities.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Unfocused, Confusing

See it if you enjoy good music, acting and new works by a good playwright

Don't see it if you expect a tightly written play. Too many ideas leading to a confusing ending.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Resonant, Great writing, Ambitious

See it if 1949 Detroit jazz club owned by troubled trumpeter in a black area at risk for being 'gentrified' & their residents displaced

Don't see it if want a light, happy story; don't want serious economic and social issues

Also Despite my ratings, I didn't like this quite as much as Sweat (my rati... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Funny, Thought-provoking

See it if you value originality and resonance in writing, acting, directing, and staging. This show excels on all fronts and is must-see theater.

Don't see it if it somehow isn’t given new life in a future production, which would be a crime.

Also Kristolyn Lloyd is well-known for her excellent supporting turns in sh... Read more Read less

Great acting, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if if you're intrigued by jazz and the culture surrounding it, or by an intimate glimpse at a community going through a period of change.

Don't see it if you aren't looking to confront heavy, darker themes.

Boring, Cliched, Dated, Disappointing, S_l_o_w

See it if You are interested in the lives of people in a nightclub in Detroit in 1949.

Don't see it if Caricature depictions are beyond your tolerance level, or if you have anything better to do.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Ambitious, Relevant

See it if you want to see a masterful merging of music and drama. Although set in the '40's, the themes are still relevant

Don't see it if you want something light and frivolous. Intense emotions are portrayed and all of the characters are troubled in some sense.

Indulgent, Edgy, Entertaining, Cliched, Ambitious

See it if being the first to experience the new Dominique Morisseau play is important to you.

Don't see it if a histrionic play about the black experience within America in the late 1940's doesn't interest you. I wish someone has tipped me off.

Great acting, Long, Overly-ambitious, Entertaining, Funny moments

See it if You are interested in a dramedy that introduces you to interesting characters -- portrayed by talented actors.

Don't see it if You are impatient with melodrama and wordiness.

Also This script could benefit from a a few edits -- the first act is overl... Read more Read less

Edgy, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if you like jazz & are concerned about the disintegration of Black neighborhoods in the path of gentrification.

Don't see it if you aren't concerned with mental illness and its affects the loved ones and friends of the affected.

Exquisite, Great staging, Great acting, Masterful, Riveting

See it if You like great characterizations, fine writing, excellent acting and exquisite dircetion.

Don't see it if Sorry, but there is no good reason to miss this fine show.

Beautifully acted but needs a good edit

See it if a talented cast in a fascinating story that isn't quite perfectly written is ok with you. Wonderful set and costumes true to period.

Don't see it if a confusingly written storyline that needs editing and clarity (not resolution) annoys you. Love this author but the play needs focus.

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You're a fan of the playwright, or her influences, such as August Wilson. Blackbplays. Small plays. Detroit. Jazz. Gentrification topics.

Don't see it if There's a little singing. Staging is great; good views all around. "N" word is used and a gun. If those offend you, don't see, but, I

Also Enjoyed it, even though I was born 35 years after the setting of the p... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intense, Riveting

See it if you enjoy stories from the past, the blues, or plays that feel uber realistic.

Don't see it if you don't period-specific language (the N word is used quite a bit), the blues, or if you don't like being able to guess the outcome.

Great acting, Slow

See it if For the jazz background and excellent actors. The plot lines were confusing but these actors managed to overcome that defect.

Don't see it if The play got lost with the several plot lines none of which were fully realized. Excellent actors kept me in my seat till the end.

Absorbing, Great writing, Slow, Intelligent

See it if you're a Dominique Morisseau fan and want to see her earlier works

Don't see it if you're expecting a naturalistic play like her newer pieces

May 14th, 2018
"Oddly in a play that features so much talk of jazz and poetry, the real estate story is the most compelling aspect...So overplays its genre tropes that the characters feel like incoherent afterthoughts. Especially in the second act, as the plot tries to wind itself into a climax, they stop makin...
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May 14th, 2018
"If Blue comes off as a bit of a cipher, it's because his decline is a metaphor for what happened to the Motor City's famed African-American enclave Black Bottom...The supporting characters in his orbit have much richer melodies...Their poetic interactions...fuel the drama, which is heavy on atmo...
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May 15th, 2018
“One of those plays that feels powerful when you witness it, and starts to spur more and more questions of character and logic the farther you get from it...The actors throw themselves wholeheartedly into climactic moments, doing solid, emotionally connected work even when Morisseau’s script move...
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May 14th, 2018
"The thin storyline takes a back seat to the rich language on display; like many a jazz composition, 'Paradise Blue' doesn't cohere very well, but there are some dazzling solos...The play feels very much alive anyway, thanks to Morisseau's prodigious gifts for language and creating small moments ...
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