Paper Mill Playhouse is a regional theatre located in Millburn, New Jersey, less than 25 miles away from Manhattan. Due to its location, it can draw from the pool of actors (and audience members) who live in New York City. Its location, as well as its focus on producing large-scale shows, essentially makes Paper Mill a Broadway theatre thirty minutes from Broadway, but with lower ticket prices; currently, the most expensive ticket is $72.25, well below top price for a Broadway show. Paper Mill was officially designated as the "State Theatre of New Jersey. Mark W. Jones currently serves as the Theater Executive Director, while Mark S. Hoebee is the Artistic Director.
Toward the end of the 18th century, in March of 1795, Sam Campbell built a mill on a tract of land along a brook in a town then known as Millville. He operated it for nearly 20 years until fire ended his business. After several abandoned years, the mill changed hands many times until, in the late 1870s, Diamond Mill Paper Company took over and began making paper products until 1928.
Around the time the mill was shutting down, Antoinette Scudder, an artist and writer of poetry and plays, began a friendship with Frank Carrington, an actor and director in the theatre. A partnership was born. Soon the pair discovered the vacant mill and over the course of several years created a theatre on the site of the former paper mill.
Founded in 1934, Paper Mill Playhouse raised the curtain on its first performance with Martinez Sierra’s The Kingdom of God on November 14, 1938. By the end of the first year, Carrington had coaxed entertainer Irene Castle out of retirement to make her dramatic debut in Noel Coward’s Shadow Play. The first few years featured a variety of classical and modern plays. By 1941, the Playhouse had begun to specialize in operettas, which continued until the early 1950s.
Change marked this period in Paper Mill’s history, and with Miss Scudder’s death in 1958, one stage of the journey ended. Angelo Del Rossi joined as Associate Producer in 1964, working closely with Carrington until his death in 1975, when he assumed the position of Executive Producer. Not long after that, a fire in 1980 would again change the course of the theatre’s journey. Paper Mill began to rebuild and on October 30, 1982, the curtain rose again.
In 1972, Governor William Cahill proclaimed Paper Mill the “Official State Theatre of New Jersey.” The theatre has been cited as a State Center of Artistic Excellence and as a Major Impact and Distinguished Arts Organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Through the years, Paper Mill Playhouse has welcomed such talent as , Laura Benanti (Rising Star Award winner), Betty Buckley, Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Christine Ebersole, Laurence Guittard, Anne Hathaway (Paper Mill Conservatory alumna and Rising Star Award nominee), Dee Hoty, John Mahoney, Donna McKechnie, Ann Miller, Stephanie Mills, Liza Minnelli, Estelle Parsons, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera, Tony Roberts,Patrick Swayze, Karen Ziemba,Adrian Zmed, Nick Jonas (now an actor on the Disney Channel as well as an artist of the Hollywood Records label as one of the Jonas Brothers), and Bailey Hanks (the winner of Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods).
In April 2003, Michael Gennaro, former Executive Director of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, joined Paper Mill as President and CEO. Paper Mill Playhouse was one of the first theatres to begin the regional theatre movement in the United States. It has grown to be one of the most acclaimed not-for-profit professional theatres in the country and attracts more than 300,000 people annually.
On April 3, 2007, Paper Mill announced that it would need $1.5 million to open its season and an equal amount to complete its season, or it would be forced to close its doors. As of April 6, 2007, Paper Mill announced that it had received $300,000, enough to cover costs of rehearsals and preview performances for its production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Paper Mill announced that it would have to do more well-known shows to stay in business. In May 2008, the Township of Millburn voted to purchase Paper Mill's land on Brookside Drive for 9 million dollars. They have entered into a 75 year lease with the not-for-profit theater and will have no control over the theater's operations. Paper Mill Playhouse has gained a fresh financial start due to this deal.
The 2007-2008 season includes: Happy Days: The Musical, Meet Me In St. Louis, The Miracle Worker, Steel Magnolias, Kiss Me Kate', and Little Shop of Horrors.
The 2008-2009 season includes: Oklahoma!, Disney's High School Musical, The Importance of Being Earnest, Master Class, 1776', and The Full Monty.
Paper Mill is a member of the Council of Stock Theatres (COST), a group of theatres who join together to negotiate with the various unions that are involved in stage productions. COST's contract with Actors' Equity allows for a minimum weekly salary of that is only half of what Broadway productions must pay their actors; Paper Mill is also allowed to cast non-union actors, which is forbidden for Broadway shows. This gives Paper Mill the ability to produce shows on a larger scale than most Broadway productions.
Paper Mill also has a large theatre school providing classes for all ages, with various programs tailored especially for children, teenagers, adults, and seniors. Some children's and teens' classes are by audition only, though a great many are open to anyone of any skill level; classes for adults and seniors do not require auditions. Paper Mill Playhouse also runs more intensive summer training programs for young performers ages 10 and up.
In addition, the Paper Mill holds annual Rising Star Awards (modeled after the Tony Awards) every spring, honoring excellency in high school theatre performances. Students who are nominated in lead and supporting acting categories receive scholarships to Paper Mill's Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory and may perform in their annual finale concert.
Casting the Spotlight on the Arts, Economic Development and Jobs, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno Tours Millburn's Paper Mill Playhouse
Sep 12, 2012; TRENTON, NJ -- The following information was released by the office of the governor of New Jersey: Focusing the spotlight on how...