Paper Mill: The State Theatre of New Jersey, the major regional theatre committed to stagings of new works and popular revivals of plays and musicals, will see changes in its leadership in the coming seasons.
The board of the venerable 65-year-old not-for-profit in Millburn, NJ, is launching a nationwide search for the position of president/chief executive officer to take on chores of Paper Mill veteran Angelo Del Rossi, who will continue as executive producer/president emeritus, concentrating on fundraising and development.
In seeking a new person for the top job at the theatre, the board is trying to secure the fiscal and artistic future of the organization, bruised in recent years with an internal deficit thought to be around $3.5 million. Budget excesses have not been made up by ticket sales, producing red ink. The theatre's annual budget next year will be at $20 million. In its current 65th anniversary season, Paper Mill has 32,000 subscribers.
The announcement of the president/CEO search was made late Nov. 21.
"For four decades, the Paper Mill has been my passion and love," 68-year-old Del Rossi said in a statement. "I have been privileged to lead this landmark theatre through extraordinary times. The disastrous fire that destroyed the theater in 1980 and my determined mission to rebuild it was perhaps my most challenging and rewarding achievement; for now stands a theatre for all times — a living monument that every day brings the wonder of theatre to thousands and thousands of people. By relinquishing my duties as president of this $20 million operation, this succession plan allows me as executive producer to focus on the future of Paper Mill, to continue to develop relationships with individuals from the arts and business communities who share Paper Mill's mission, and to nourish the astounding success of our ever-expanding outreach and educational programs." Del Rossi's new role follows the resignation earlier this year of artistic director Robert Johanson, whose position has not been filled, although Mark S. Hoebee has been assuming a lot of the artistic duties in the interim. The board is also searching for a managing director for the theatre.
One cost-cutting measure being embraced at Paper Mill is the idea of sharing expenses in co-productions with other troupes (as with last season's I'm Not Rappaport and the upcoming Blue and Romeo and Bernadette).
In a statement, board chairman Edward Marlowe said, "Angelo's 40 years of dedication has been outstanding. The creation and production of the great American musicals, new works, as well as plays, has been his hallmark for the Paper Mill. He has attracted international stars and has given many opportunities for aspiring actors, in addition to directors, choreographers and designers, who now work on Broadway, in television and film. The president/CEO will build on the success of the past 65 years and must embrace and articulate Paper Mill's mission."
Del Rossi started at Paper Mill in 1963 as casting director and graduated to associate producer in the late 1960s before he succeeded Frank Carrington as executive producer in 1975.
A search committee led by Paper Mill vice-chairman Kenneth H. Thorn has been organized, comprised of the board and staff. Inquiries may be sent to Kenneth H. Thorn, Chair, Paper Mill: The State Theatre of New Jersey, Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ, 07041.
For more information about the 1,200-seat theatre populated by Broadway talent (the theatre is a 40-minute train ride from Manhattan), visit www.papermill.org.
Paper Mill is currently enjoying a smash success with a revival of Annie, following a run of Miss Saigon that did not meet sales expectations.
— By Kenneth Jones