New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse has set its 2022-2023 season, which will include the second-ever staging of Disney's Hercules, adapted from the 1997 animated film with songs by Alan Menken and David Zippel. Paper Mill's production, which will run February 9-March 12, 2023, follows the stage adaptation's 2019 world premiere via The Public Theater's free Shakespeare in the Park helmed by Lear deBessonet, who returns to direct the Paper Mill staging.
The upcoming production will newly feature a book by Kwame Kwei-Armah (The Visitor) and Robert Horn (Tootsie, 13), adapted from the screenplay by Ron Clements, John Musker, Donald McEnery, Bob Shaw, and Irene Mecchi. Kwei-Armah and Horn are new to the project, with The Public's production having featured a book by Kristoffer Diaz.
Also returning from the world premiere creative team is Michael Kosarin as music supervisor, with Alvin Hough, Jr. (Once On This Island) joining as music director.
The 2019 production—which starred Jelani Aladdin, Roger Bart, Jeff Hiller, Nelson Chimilio, James Monroe Iglehart, Ramona Keller, Tamika Lawrence, Krysta Rodriguez, and Rema Webb—was part of The Public's Public Works Program, which invites communities across New York to participate in productions at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Participating groups for Hercules included 10 Hairy Legs, Passaic High School Marching Band, and Broadway Inspirational Voices. Casting for the Paper Mill production is to be announced.
Hercules is the latest in a string of high-profile Disney Theatricals productions to find a home at the Playhouse. Newsies made its world premiere at the New Jersey theatre in 2011 with a production that became a surprise hit and transferred to a successful run on Broadway in 2012. Paper Mill also co-presented the U.S. premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 2015 with La Jolla Playhouse, though this production did not make the jump to the Main Stem. Broadway aspirations for Hercules remain unclear at this time.
The Tony-winning regional theatre's 2022-2023 season will open with On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan, running October 7-November 6. Paper Mill favorite Alex Sanchez (West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast) will direct and choreograph the production, working alongside music director Andrew David Sotomayor (Tootsie).
Next up is a new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, directed by Paper Mill Producing Artistic Director Mark S. Hoebee and choreographed by Kenny Ingram. The holiday production, presenting the classic tale of the nun-turned-governess who brings the Von Trapp family together by teaching them to sing in 1930s Austria, will play December 2-January 1, 2023.
Following Hercules will be Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, adapted by Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor). Running April 12-May 7, 2023, the production will be directed by Casey Hushion, fresh off helming last season's whodunnit, Clue.
The season will close with a new production of Rent, running May 31-June 25, 2023, and helmed by Hamilton resident director Zi Alikhan. With a book, music, and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, Rent updates Puccini's La Bohéme to follow a group of bohemian artists living in New York City's Lower East Side in the late '80s. The piece is both a Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner.