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Back on Stage: Paper Mill Playhouse Talks its Return to Live Performances With Outdoor Cabarets and More

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Back on Stage: Paper Mill Playhouse Talks its Return to Live Performances With Outdoor Cabarets and More

Live theater may have been paused, but the ghost light certainly hasn't gone out for good. The global health crisis temporarily put the theater world on hold to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but theaters around the country are now beginning to open their doors once again, re-introducing live performance to audiences.

Through our new interview series, we are checking in with theaters around the country who are bringing back live performances, talking to them about how they are doing so safely, what they are most excited for and more.

Today our Back on Stage interview is with Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director of Paper Mill Playhouse.


What will you be bringing back to the stage and when?

We are currently working hard making adjustments to the 2020 - 2021 season. We are in discussions about protocols for when the theater re-opens and we will of course incorporate any specific mandates from government officials into our planning. Although there are many uncertainties around the specifics of how and when we will move forward, Paper Mill plans on bringing our audience a very exciting five show season.

How did you come to the decision that it was safe to move forward with putting on live performances?

We are lucky to have a fantastic restaurant on our beautiful brookside campus which we opened for outdoor seating as soon as Governor Murphy allowed it. The Carriage House Restaurant opened with tables set up along the brook for dining Wednesday through Sunday with *live performances every Saturday night. It's such a thrill to welcome audiences back for live performances even though we can't invite them back into the theater. We will continue to follow current guidelines and make adjustments as we continue to connect with our audience and provide entertainment in whatever format we can.

What will you be doing to ensure that your performers and audience members are safe?

We have created a taskforce to work with healthcare experts on our board to assess precautions and procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of our audiences, staff and performers.

What kind of response have you gotten from your community in regards to re-opening?

Our community has been incredibly supportive and generous. Gifts have continued to come in for our Curtain Up! campaign and subscribers have told us again and again that they can't wait to come back. Already, and in the face of so much uncertainty, fifty percent of our subscribers have renewed their subscriptions. That's a really heartwarming statistic for us.

How far ahead have you planned for any future performances?

We are planning currently for the upcoming 2020-2021 season.

What are you most excited for in being able to bring performances back to the stage?

Paper Mill Playhouse has been bringing audiences live theater for 83 years. I have been a part of twenty of those years and I can honestly say that we have the most loyal and enthusiastic audience I know of. I want to see them back in our theater when our curtain rises for the first time next season and watch them experiencing the joy of live theater once again.


For more information visit: https://papermill.org/

*Catch Paper Mill's Brookside Cabaret with Susan Speidel and Joe Regan. Upcoming performances scheduled for July 4 and July 11 at 7:00PM.


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