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Paper Mill Open for Now, but Must Raise $500 Thousand

Paper Mill Playhouse is open, for now.  Due to tremendous community support, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers had its first public performance on Wednesday, April 11.  Audience reaction for the official press opening on Sunday, April 15 was extremely positive with a show-stopping dance number during the performance receiving thunderous, mid-scene applause and a standing ovation at the curtain call.  Since the start of Paper Mill's aggressive public fund-raising drive to save the theater, over 1,600 donors have made contributions and pledges in excess of $750,000 including 100% participation from the Paper Mill Playhouse Board of Trustees. As previously reported, this grassroots generosity and show of support will enable Paper Mill Playhouse to proceed with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at least through Sunday evening, April 22.  However, it is still uncertain if the production will be able to complete its run.  "Although the theater is engaged in accelerated negotiations to obtain a 'bridge loan' that would allow us to finish the season, it will likely take a minimum of two weeks to complete the loan process" says Diane Claussen, Paper Mill's Managing Director. "We need to raise an additional $500,000 to get us through the next two weeks of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers."

"Paper Mill is still very far from its fundraising goal. (1.5 million to complete Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and 1.5 million to complete Pirates!) Although we have received unprecedented and heartwarming support from the public, we will continue to work round-the-clock on the many initiatives we have undertaken to save the season and the theatre" says Board Chairman, Ken Thorn.  Paper Mill's Acting Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee explains that, "the short-term reprieve we received this week has allowed the theatre to continue its efforts to secure a 'bridge loan' to complete the season.  A loan will permit us to finish the season and to continue our efforts to raise money.  We cannot end the season in a deficit position.  We believe in the people of New Jersey.  They understand that this great not-for-profit theatre needs their help—we just have to give them the time and the chance to respond."

Sales for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers are strong.  The first week of performances sold at over 80% of capacity, higher then any other show this season.  People from all walks of life have been calling in, making donations over the internet and stopping by the theater to offer their support.  Paper Mill's Director of Education, Susan Speidel reported, "A four-year-old from our 'Theater Tots' class showed up on Tuesday with her piggy bank in hand and told me, 'I want to be on the Paper Mill stage someday, this place can't close' as she emptied the contents into a donation bin."

Paper Mill Playhouse hosted a rally to support the theatre on Monday, April 9 at 7:00pm.  More than 600 attendees showed up in the bitter cold to champion Paper Mill. The cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers kicked off the rally followed by stars of Broadway and state political leaders giving heartfelt, personal testimonies on the impact of Paper Mill Playhouse. Political leaders included: Senate President-Governor Richard Cody, Senator Tom Kean Jr., former governors Brendon Byrne and Tom Kean Sr., Assemblyman John Bramnick, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and Millburn Mayor Dan Baer.  Broadway and Paper Mill stars included: James Brennan, Michelle Ragusa, George Dvorsky, Nell Benjamin, Barrett Foa, Gordon Greenberg, Kate Baldwin, Jessica and Matt Bogart, Tony-Award® Winner John Lloyd Young, Mark Ledbetter, Dan Kohler, Daniel Goldstein, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Nick Corley, Glory Crampton, Thom Christopher Warren and Leslie Kritzer. The rally had celebrated performances from Judy McLane, Danette Holden, Kelly Rabke and Matthew Scott along with more than 60 students from Paper Mill's Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory. The event raised more than $30,000. At the event former Governor Tom Kean Sr. commented on Paper Mill productions and had this to say, "…they do them well, they do them with integrity and they introduce kids to theater and all at affordable prices."

Recently Paper Mill Playhouse received this statement from Anne Hathaway (Princess Diaries, Brokeback Mountain): "I first attended a show at the Paper Mill Playhouse when I moved to New Jersey at the age of six, and my relationship with the theatre continues to this day.  I loved being a Paper Mill Player when I was a child, studying with the wonderful Mickey McNanny, and I'll never forget the pride I felt appearing onstage in Gigi and Jane Eyre.   I am so proud and grateful to have been one of the many young performers to have gotten their start at Paper Mill, which is one of the reasons why it worries me so much that it might close.  The Paper Mill is a wonderful resource for young performers, offering top-notch productions less than an hour from New York.  The loss of the Paper Mill will be a blow to young performers, and the theatrical community as a whole.  I am grateful for the lessons I learned at Paper Mill both onstage and off, and hope it will be a launching pad for young performers for years to come."

Paper Mill Playhouse, a not-for-profit arts organization, is one of the country's leading regional theatres and is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, in addition to contributions from many corporations, foundations, businesses and individuals.  Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of Theatre Communications Group, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

Tickets are still available for both Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Pirates! and may be purchased by calling 973-376-4343 or logging on to the Paper Mill website  The theatre is graciously accepting donations to "Save the Theater".  Please call 973-379-3636 ext. 2SAV or log onto the Paper Mill Playhouse website and make your donation today.


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