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."
A "Save the Theater" rally will be held April 9 at 7 PM in the plaza of the Paper Mill Playhouse. Among those scheduled to attend are actors Michelle Ragusa, John Lloyd Young, Judy McLane, Glory Crampton, Matthew Scott, James Brennan, Nick Corley, Danette Holden and Kate Baldwin as well as Senate President and Governor Richard Cody and Senator Tom Kean Jr.
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.