People Mill: Flurry of Staff Departures Reported at NJ's State Theatre

News   People Mill: Flurry of Staff Departures Reported at NJ's State Theatre Just a few days after New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse reported that artistic director Robert Johanson had not walked off the job and was staying on board there, Playbill On-Line has learned that there have been several other staffers who have actually left the nonprofit theatre recently.

Just a few days after New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse reported that artistic director Robert Johanson had not walked off the job and was staying on board there, Playbill On-Line has learned that there have been several other staffers who have actually left the nonprofit theatre recently.

Reports indicate that Paper Mill has recently bid adieu to its subscription manager, a telemarketing manger, two scene shop staffers and a marketing associate; just this week, the theatre's director of development resigned and the production manager has given notice. If these reports are accurate, that makes seven staff departures. The company employs roughly 100 people in two locations, in Milburn and Edison.

Paper Mill did not return a call by press time and it is not clear if there is any plan underway to downsize the theatre staff or to reorganize New Jersey's State Theatre. In some of the cases cited above, departing Paper Mill staffers left after receiving attractive offers for new jobs. For whatever reasons, significant changes are taking place while the theatre company continues its production schedule and prepares for the coming season.

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As reported earlier, a Paper Mill Playhouse spokesperson told Playbill On Line that artistic director Robert Johanson had not walked off his job and was still very much on the job there. Discounting rumors that surfaced early this week, the spokesperson said no changes in Johanson's employment were planned. Johanson is said to have approximately two months left on his contract. Paper Mill explained that rumors of Johanson's departure probably began to surface after he stormed out of the theatre April 12 in what was described as a momentary expression of "artistic temperament."

"Robert has an artistic temperament," the spokesperson said. "He wants to put on the best show possible and he wants each show to be the best it can be."

Johanson reportedly threw his back out during load-ins for The Student Prince and walked out in a huff, but was "back the next day doing auditions for Pippin in New York City," the spokesperson said.

The Paper Mill spokesperson affirmed Johanson's commitment to the nonprofit theatre company and described the incident as "just another day at the Paper Mill."

-- By Murdoch McBride