Jen Bender Named Associate Artistic Director of Paper Mill Playhouse | Playbill

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Regional News Jen Bender Named Associate Artistic Director of Paper Mill Playhouse

Bender will succeed Patrick Parker, who held the position for nearly three decades.

Jen Bender Michael Kushner

Jen Bender, assistant director of Broadway's The Wedding Singer and Steel Magnolias, has been named the associate artistic director of New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse.

Bender, who will join the Tony-winning regional theatre directly from her role as a member of the musical theatre faculty at NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, will succeed Patrick Parker, who stepped down September 30 after 27 years at the post. 

Having previously worked with Paper Mill Playhouse as associate director of Honeymoon in Vegas in 2013 and as part of the commercial production team for The Sting in 2018, Bender will step into her new role in time for Paper Mill's production of The Sound of Music, playing on the mainstage beginning December 2.

“Jen brings vast and varied experience to this position, and I am very excited to have her help us shape the artistic future of our beloved theatre,” says Producing Artistic Director Mark S. Hoebee. 

Bender adds, “For 20 years I’ve loved going to Millburn to see shows at Paper Mill. It’s always been one of my favorite theatres. They’re equally passionate about producing classics and new work, which are my passions, too. I am thrilled to be joining their artistic family.”

Bender was senior vice president of production and development at The Araca Group. Prior to that, she served as the director of programming and artist services for the New York Musical Festival and as resident director for the Broadway productions of The Lion King and Avenue Q. She co-founded and served as the artistic director of Broadway in South Africa, leading a program that brought Broadway artists to work with children in need.

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