The New Jersey premiere of Happy Days: The Musical — based on the hit Paramount Pictures TV series — will kick off the season at the Paper Mill, running Sept. 26-Oct. 28. The musical, adapted by series creator Garry Marshall, features a score by Academy Award winner Paul Williams. The plot of the musical, according to press notes, concerns "the famed drive-in malt shop and number one hang-out, Arnold's, [which] is in danger of demolition, so the gang teams up to save it with a dance contest and TV-worthy wrestling match against former Phister prison members Count Jacques and Jimbo, aka the infamous Malachi Brothers. Even the daredevil diva Pinky Tuscadero returns to help and perhaps reunite with her 'Legend in Leather.'"
Paper Mill artistic director Mark S. Hoebee will direct the second offering of the forthcoming season, Meet Me in St. Louis. The musical, which features a score by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane and a book by Hugh Wheeler, will run Nov. 7-Dec. 16. Theatregoers can expect to hear such classic tunes as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "The Boy Next Door" and "The Trolley Song."
William Gibson's Tony Award-winning The Miracle Worker will run Jan. 23, 2008-Feb. 24, 2008. The famed drama concerns the relationship between the blind, deaf and mostly mute Helen Keller and her inspirational teacher Anne Sullivan.
A slice of Louisiana life will be served in Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias, the comedic drama set in Truvy's beauty salon. Running March 5-April 6, the play concerns "six very different women [who] come together to share their secrets and bare their souls, throwing in a little neighborly gossip for good measure."
Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate will play the Paper Mill next spring, running April 16-May 18. Inspired by Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, the musical features a score by Porter and a book by Sam and Bella Spewack. The musical spawned the Porter standards "Wunderbar," "So in Love" and "Too Darn Hot." The Paper Mill season will end with the family favorite Little Shop of Horrors, running June 4-July 6. The story of down-on-his-luck plant shop worker Seymour and his relationship with Audrey and Audrey II features a score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman; the latter also penned the musical's book.
In a statement Paper Mill managing director Diane Claussen said, "For 2007-2008 we've chosen six shows you can enjoy and share with your entire family. With three Paper Mill premieres, a New Jersey premiere and the return of a musical theatre classic after a 40 year absence from the Paper Mill stage, we are proud to have created an irresistible line-up of productions you know and love, glorious music, and stories that will move and entertain you.
"Board and staff leadership of Paper Mill Playhouse," Claussen added, "are in the process of developing a business plan which supports our artistic vision: through partnerships with other not-for-profit theatres, commercial theatre enhancement collaborations, and the Township of Millburn and other community partners, we will be able to further our mission of producing top quality intergenerational entertainment for New Jersey families."
Single tickets will go on sale to the public Aug. 13. For more information call (973) 376-4343 or visit www.papermill.org.