Minnelli, Young, Cuccioli and More Expected at April 9 Paper Mill Rally

News   Minnelli, Young, Cuccioli and More Expected at April 9 Paper Mill Rally The Paper Mill Playhouse — the New Jersey theatre that is struggling to raise funds to keep its doors open — hosts a "Save the Theater" Rally April 9.
John Lloyd Young
John Lloyd Young Photo by Peter Hurley

As of press time those actors scheduled to attend the 7 PM rally in the Courtyard of the Playhouse include John Lloyd Young, Liza Minnelli, Robert Cuccioli, Leslie Kritzer, George Dvorsky, Glory Crampton, Nell Benjamin, Michelle Ragusa, James Brennan, Nick Corley, Daniel Goldstein, Kate Baldwin, Stephanie Kurtzuba and Thom Christopher Warren as well as the cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The latter is scheduled to begin previews at the Paper Mill April 11.

In addition to testimonials at the rally, there will be performances by Judy McLane, Kelly Rabke, Matthew Scott and Danette Holden.

Among the politicians who will lend their support to the rally are Senate President-Governor Richard Codey, Senator Tom Kean Jr. and former governors Brendon Byrne and Tom Kean Sr.

Several theatre favorites have come out to ask people to help save the theatre. In a statement, Tony winner Kristen Chenoweth said, "This is the saddest news for all of us in the theatre community. Paper Mill Playhouse not only gave me my Equity card, it also gave me a wonderful opportunity to play a role in a production that audiences throughout the New York communities could see. Paper Mill is an American staple and has been responsible for so many careers. Please give what you can to save this wonderful institution and source of so much joy for so many."

And, fellow Tony winner John Lloyd Young added, "The Paper Mill Playhouse production of The Chosen was my first major New York area role and my first big critical achievement. The Broadway level productions are the perfect training ground for someone who wants to be on Broadway and a great place for those who work on Broadway to return to play great roles. I have supported Paper Mill since working there and will continue to do so in the future. I ask that you do the same." Those interested in helping the financially strained theatre may do so by making a tax-deductible contribution. Call (973) 379-3636 or donate online at www.papermill.org.

The Paper Mill Playhouse is located on Brookside Drive in Millburn, NJ.

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It seems that the show will go on at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ — at least for the current season. Two real estate companies have agreed to back a bank loan for the financially troubled theatre in an effort to ensure that the 2006-2007 season at the Paper Mill Playhouse can continue as originally planned.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that Kenneth Thorn, who is the chairman of Paper Mill's board of trustees, is close to securing a $3 million credit agreement that will allow both Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (April 11-May 13) and Pirates! (June 6-July 15) to be seen at the 69-year-old venue.

Thorn told the New Jersey paper, "We are not going to close [the theatre]. We will make sure all the people are able to see the shows they've paid for."

An emergency board meeting was held April 5, and Thorn told the 26-member group that the bank loan was imminent. Acting artistic director Mark Hoebee added, "We haven't solved the problem, but we aren't closing tomorrow."

Ever since the financial troubles of the New Jersey Playhouse were announced earlier this week, celebrities and theatre fans have made generous donations to the theatre. The internet fundraising effort has since brought in $50,000 in donations, while phone solicitations have brought in an additional $100,000. These gifts, Hoebee said, will allow the theatre to meet its payroll for the next few weeks.

An April 6 e-mail from Paper Mill press representative Shayne Miller provides this update: "The donations are pouring in, but we are still not near our plea for 1.5 million. You may have read an article in The Star Ledger this morning indicating that Paper Mill will receive a loan to save the theatre. This is extremely premature! We are only in initial discussions with lending institutions and these things take time. Unfortunately, because of the piece today, donations are being replaced with expressions of congratulations. We only have enough cash to cover one week of payroll for the theatre, meaning we have yet to determine if Seven Brides for Seven Brothers will be able to have its press opening on Sunday, April 15. This theatre still may close if contributed income comes to a halt."