Angelo Del Rossi, Longtime Public Face of Paper Mill Playhouse, Dies

Obituaries   Angelo Del Rossi, Longtime Public Face of Paper Mill Playhouse, Dies
 
Angelo Del Rossi, a figure long associated with the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey for forty years, died Aug. 30 following a lengthy illness. He was 81 years old.

Paper Mill Playhouse, one of the country's leading regional theatres, was founded in Millburn, New Jersey, in 1934. Angelo Del Rossi joined the theatre as a casting director in the 1964 and made the company his career.

"I was an actor for a number of years," he told the New York Times in 1979, "but acting wasn't creative enough for me, and so I got a job as an assistant to Frank Harrington," the co-founder of the company. He later became associate producer, and then—following the death of Carrington in 1975—executive producer. He remained in that position until 2003, when he stepped down.

In 2010, Mr. Del Rossi was presented with the President Emeritus Award for his tireless financial and personal support of the Playhouse.

Mr. Del Rossi helped ferry the nonprofit through many crises, none more significant than the fire that destroyed the stage and auditorium in 1980. Paper Mill reopened in 1982 with a new building that improved sightlines and acoustics. "The moment I saw the fire, I said to myself: 'We're going to rebuild for keeps now,'" he told the New York Times in 1981. "That's why we're building for the future - to prepare ourselves for any economic reversal, and to construct one of America's most durable performing centers."

The cast of the new theatre was $4.5 million, an amount that was pieced together through an insurance payout, corporate, foundation and state arts support, and a floating-rate bond of $2.2 million. Mr. Del Rossi's role in saving the theatre cemented his reputation as "Mr. Paper Mill," as some called him. "Angelo is the Paper Mill Playhouse," said Robert Szerlip, a board member, in 2002. "He's the missionary for the Paper Mill who represents it to the public the best."

There will be a memorial service for Angelo, Monday, Sept. 1, at 9 AM at Saint James Episcopal Church, located at 581 Valley Road in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. A celebration of Angelo's life is being planned at Paper Mill Playhouse in the next six to eight weeks.

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