The New Jersey theatre company, whose financial troubles put the venue in threat of closing last year, has assembled a 70th anniversary season of family-friendly works whose subjects and familiar titles appeal to a large section of its theatregoing audience.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! is the first offering on the Paper Mill stage, Sept. 17-Oct. 19. Paper Mill promises audiences a "fresh look" at the beloved classic set in frontier-territory Oklahoma.
Disney's High School Musical follows Nov. 5-Dec. 7. The smash hit 2006 TV movie, which was swiftly adapted as a stage property last year, has become a worldwide phenomenon for young audiences.
The musical, described as a contemporary Grease, where the jocks, theatre-geeks, and science brainiacs discover they're "all in this together," features a book by David Simpatico, with the songs from the original soundtrack (written by numerous songwriters) featured, as well as the "High School Musical Megamix."
Oscar Wilde's deceptive comedy The Importance of Being Earnest is up next, Jan. 14-Feb. 15, 2009. The play centers on Algernon Moncrieff and Jack Worthing, who create imaginary counterparts to avoid social occasions. The Tony Award-winning drama Master Class finds its way to the spotlight March 4-April 5, 2009. Terrence McNally's work follows legendary opera diva and cultural icon Maria Callas, who recalls the trials of her life during a (fictional) master class, replete with her most famous arias.
Another Tony Award-winning work, 1776, will be presented April 15-May 17, 2009. With music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter Stone, the history-minded musical brings to life the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The final production of the Paper Mill season will be The Full Monty. Boasting a book by Tony Award winner Terrence McNally and a score by Tony nominee David Yazbek, the popular musical based on the 1997 movie follows a group of downtrodden steel workers who devise a plan to become male strippers at a local club.
Paper Mill will also team up with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra will perform a series of 75-minute "Best Of" concerts on the Paper Mill stage Thursdays throughout the season. Each concert will highlight a composer or specific theme.
For the holidays, the New Jersey Ballet returns to Paper Mill with The Nutracker for the 39th consecutive season.
"We are delighted to offer such a varied and distinguished group of productions for our 70th anniversary season, which fit so well with our new vision of intergenerational programming," commented Paper Mill executive director Mark W. Jones. "Our new partnership with New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and our commitment to New Jersey Ballet, once again demonstrates that Paper Mill Playhouse is truly the State Theater of New Jersey."
Casting and creative duties for the Paper Mill season will be announced at a later date.
Season tickets are now on sale. Single tickets begin sale July 28. For more information call (973) 376-4343 or visit www.papermill.org.