Midwest Premiere

April 26 – July 23, 2017

“We all got sadness. But I like to turn mine into fire, baby. What you do with yours?”

A dynamic and jazz-infused drama about what’s at stake when building a better future. In Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood in 1949, a gifted trumpeter and troubled owner of the Paradise jazz nightclub is contemplating a buyout offer for the city’s urban renewal plan. As the inhabitants of the famed but faltering jazz club ponder their options and dream of a better life, they must decide whether to fight to save what’s theirs or risk it all for a chance at redemption.

This latest from Dominique Morisseau’s widely acclaimed cycle of plays about Detroit once again proves why she’s one of America’s most urgent playwrights.

PLEASE NOTE: Peanuts will be consumed onstage during the show, and the production includes scenes of violence, multiple gunshots and strong language, as well as the use of e-cigarettes and haze.

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Production Team


* Member of Actors Equity Association

# Member of United Scenic Artists

~ Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

+ TimeLine Company Member

^ TimeLine Associate Artist

§ TimeLine Playwrights Collective


  • Chicago Tribune

    May 5, 2017

    ★ ★ ★. “A juicy and resonant piece of writing, filled to the brim with complex, empathetic characters struggling and infighting as part of a community living under extreme duress. It is not hard to become involved with their choices and worry about their futures. … Paradise Blue will not go quietly into your good night.

    —Chris Jones

  • Newcity

    May 5, 2017

    “Dominique Morisseau has demonstrated her ability to take narratives and turn them back on themselves, highlighting overlooked identities and ideas. Paradise Blue shines a light on a history that deserves to be seen.

    —Kevin Greene

  • Stage and Cinema

    May 6, 2017

    “Absolute authenticity is on this passionate stage. … A valedictory for a vanished world, Paradise Blue is faithful to TimeLine’s urge to make the past the present. … Paradise Blue takes us back—beautifully.”

    —Lawrence Bommer

  • Chicago Theatre Review

    May 7, 2017

    “Everyone in this talented cast is wonderful. … [Dominique Morisseau’s] new drama is a look at a forgotten time and place.”

    —Colin Douglas

  • Third Coast Review

    May 10, 2017

    “TimeLine Theatre’s production adds a superb original score by Orbert Davis to accompany the cast of five…[Davis] weaves a musical thread that beautifully supports and never intrudes on the drama.”

    —Nancy Bishop

  • Windy City Times

    May 17, 2017

    [The actors] are a phenomenal lot who bring honesty, passion and even delicacy to their portrayals, particularly Kristin E. Ellis as vulnerable, poetic Pumpkin and Al’Jaleel McGhee as Blue, the demanding central role. … Paradise Blue offers passions and impressions aplenty.”

    —Jonathan Abarbanel

  • WDCB 90.9 FM: The Dueling Critics

    June 7, 2017

    “Beautifully, beautifully acted. Dominique Morisseau has written some delicious scenes, and wonderful dialogue and characters…Extremely enjoyable. … Go to see a group of superior actors create a film noir right before your very eyes.

    —Kelly Kleiman and Jonathan Abarbanel


  • WGN 720 AM: Behind the Curtain

    May 4, 2017

    Listen to host Paul Lisnek discuss TimeLine’s upcoming 2017-18 season with Artistic Director PJ Powers on WGN Radio’s “Behind the Curtain” (Segment starts at 16:51).

    Listen to the segment

Discussions & Events

  • Opening Night Celebration: PARADISE BLUE
    Thursday, May 4 at 7:30pm

    This Midwest Premiere is the final production of our 2016-17 Season.

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  • Post-Show Discussions
    Various dates

    Join us for informal post-show discussions with members of the production team and cast.

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  • Company Member Discussion
    Sunday, May 21

    Join us for an informal chat with TimeLine’s Company Members after today’s performance.

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  • PRE-Show Discussions
    Various dates

    Join us for an informal sneak peek into the show with members of the production team.

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  • Sunday Scholars Series
    Sunday, June 4 at 4:30 pm

    This one-hour post-show panel discussion features experts on the themes of the play.

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  • Open Captioned Performance
    Saturday, June 10 at 4 pm

    Featuring a text display of words and sounds heard during the performance.

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    Sunday, July 23 at 2pm

    The final performance of the jazz-infused drama, part of Morisseau’s “Detroit Trilogy”.

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TimeLine’s Midwest premiere of Paradise Blue is supported in part by