July 29, 2015

Her name is Silver, but everything about her says noir: the slinky, hip-swaying gait; the voice — one part molasses, one part bourbon and cigarettes; the electric charge she sends through a room just by walking in. When this alluring stranger glides into a Detroit nightclub in Dominique Morisseau’s jazz-infused “Paradise Blue” — clad in glamorous widow’s weeds, a set of alligator luggage in tow — you may think you’ve seen her kind before. But one of the juicy pleasures of this overloaded drama, set in 1949 and receiving its world premiere at the Williamstown Theater Festival, is the way Ms. Morisseau upends expectations. In Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s stylishly designed production, she’s expertly abetted by some marvelous actors, reveling in the musicality of the language as they rip into roles that seem, at first, to be drawn from stock. So does the plot that’s ostensibly at the center of the piece: Blue (Blair Underwood), the nightclub’s dapper trumpet-playing owner, is secretly planning to sell the place and leave town, putting the house musicians, Corn (Keith Randolph Smith) and P-Sam (Andre Holland), out of a gig and wrenching his compliant girlfriend, Pumpkin (Kristolyn Lloyd), from her beloved home. By the time Silver (De’Adre Aziza) arrives on the scene, Blue is practically halfway out the door.