Paper Mill Playhouse
Entrance to the Paper Mill Playhouse.
|Address||22 Brookside Drive
Millburn, New Jersey
Paper Mill Playhouse is a regional theatre with approximately 1200 seats, located in Millburn, New Jersey, fewer than 25 miles from Manhattan. Due to its location, it can draw from the pool of actors (and audience members) who live in New York City. Paper Mill was officially designated as the "State Theatre of New Jersey". Since 1971, Paper Mill has had the New Jersey Ballet as its resident ballet company, with the annual production of Nutcracker. Mark S. Hoebee serves as the Artistic Director and Todd Schmidt serves as the Managing Director.
Toward the end of the 18th century, in March 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 a 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. They formed a partnership, discovered the vacant mill, and over 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 Gregorio 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 Noël 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 it continued until the early 1950s.
Change marked this period in Paper Mill’s history, especially with Miss Scudder’s death in 1958. Angelo Del Rossi joined as Associate Producer in 1964, working closely with Carrington until his death in 1975. Rossi became Executive Producer. Not long after that, a fire in 1980 changed the course of the theatre, and it closed for rebuilding. On October 30, 1982, the curtain rose again.
In 1971, the New Jersey Ballet staged its first production of The Nutcracker at Paper Mill with world-renowned dancer Edward Villella in the role of the Cavalier. The Nutcracker production has been produced annually at Paper Mill since then.
In 1972, Governor of New Jersey 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 Christopher Patterson, Gloria Stuart, Alice Ripley, Eddie Bracken, Laura Benanti (Rising Star Award winner), Betty Buckley, Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Christine Ebersole, George S. Irving, Laurence Guittard, Anne Hathaway (Paper Mill Conservatory alumna and Rising Star Award nominee), Dee Hoty, John Mahoney, Dorothy Louden, 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), Bailey Hanks (the winner of Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods), Lynn Redgrave, Lorna Luft, and David Garrison.
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; its operations will remain independent. Paper Mill Playhouse has gained a fresh financial start due to this deal.
The 2000-2001 season included: "Anything Goes", "Victor/Victoria", "Art", "An Ideal Husband", "Funny Girl", and "Carousel"
The 2001-2002 season included: "A Chorus Line", "Cole Porter's Red, Hot, and Blue", "The Dinner Party", "I'm Not Rappaport", "The King & I", and "My Fair Lady"
The 2002-2003 season included: "Miss Saigon", "Annie", "Blue", "Romeo and Bernadette", "Camelot", and "Grease"
The 2003-2004 season included: "Ain't Misbehavin", "The Sound of Music", "The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife", "The Chosen", "Baby" "Guys and Dolls", and "Of Thee I Sing"
The 2004-2005 season included: "The Shop Around the Corner", "The Drawer Boy", "Harold and Maude" (Premiere), "The Baker's Wife", and "Ragtime"
The 2005-2006 season included: "Cinderella", "The Diary of Anne Frank", "Carnival", "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hello Dolly"
The 2006-2007 season included: "Godspell", "A Wonderful Life" (Premiere), "Summer and Smoke", "Romance/Romance", "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", and "Pirates!" (A New Pirates of Penzance adaptation)
The 2007-2008 season included: "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 included: "Oklahoma!", "Disney's High School Musical", "The Importance of Being Earnest", "Master Class", "1776", and "The Full Monty"
The 2009-2010 season included: "Little House on the Prairie", "On The Town", "Lost In Yonkers", "Smokey Joe's Cafe", and "Peter Pan"
The 2010-2011 season included: "Hairspray", "Les Miserables", "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "Curtains" 
The 2011-2012 season included: "Newsies" (Premiere), "White Christmas", "Boeing Boeing", "Damn Yankees", "Once on this Island"
The 2012-2013 season included: "A Chorus Line", "The Sound of Music", "Lend Me a Tenor", "Thoroughly Modern Millie", and "The Little Mermaid"
The 2013-2014 season included: "Honeymoon in Vegas", "Oliver!", "The Other Josh Cohen", "South Pacific", and "Grease"
The 2014-2015 season includes: "Can-Can", "Elf", "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike", "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", and "Ever After"
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 smaller than what Broadway productions must pay their actors; Paper Mill is also allowed to cast a minimal amount of 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 (and in a shorter amount of time).
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 excellence in high school theatre performances across the state of New Jersey. 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.
Rising Star Award Recipients
The 2014 Rising Star Awards were held on June 3, 2014 in the Paper Mill Playhouse theatre.
2014 Recipients include:
Overall Outstanding Production - Princeton Day School - "Urinetown"
Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role - Emma Magbanua as "Kim" - Union High School - "Miss Saigon: School Edition"
Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role - Keenan Buckley as "Julian Marsh" - Summit High School - "42nd Street"
Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role - Jessica Toltzis as "Penelope Pennywise" - Princeton Day School - "Urinetown"'
Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role - Jacob De Stefano as "Frau Blucher" - Midland Park Junior/Senior High School - "Young Frankenstein"'
Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role - Christopher Centinaro as "Bud Frump" - Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School - "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"'
Outstanding Featured Ensemble Group - "The Church Ladies" - Cicely L. Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts - "The Color Purple"'
Outstanding Chorus - Princeton Day School - "Urinetown"'
Outstanding Direction - Alex Perez - High Tech High School - "Spring Awakening"'
Outstanding Choreography/Musical Staging - Kelly Motts-Sacks - Summit High School - "42nd Street"'
Outstanding Music Direction - Andrew Schmidt - Princeton Day School - "Urinetown"'
Outstanding Orchestra - Summit High School - "42nd Street"'
- Crazy for You: Behind the Scenes, accessed September 3, 2006
- NJ Ballet 50the Anniversary 2008-2009
- About New Jersey Ballet, New Jersey Ballet - accessed May 14, 2009
- Financial crisis may force Paper Mill Playhouse to go dark, Home News Tribune by Laurie Granieri, April 3, 2007.
- Final curtain postponed at Paper Mill Playhouse, The Record (Bergen County) by Jim Beckerman, April 7, 2007
- Paper Cut Stings Edison
- Probst, Andy.Hairspray, Les Miserables, and More Set for Paper Mill Playhouse's All-Musical 2010-2011 Season theatermania.com, February 19, 2010
Media related to Paper Mill Playhouse at Wikimedia Commons