Paper Mill Will Honor Chita Rivera at 2017 Gala; THE WIZ LIVE!'s Shanice Williams and More to Perform!

Paper Mill Playhouse, recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is hosting its largest fundraising event of the year, the Paper Mill Playhouse Gala on Friday, May 12, at the renowned Hilton Short Hills. The reception and silent auction begin at 6:00pm, followed by dinner and dancing featuring The Eddie Bruce Band.

The Paper Mill Playhouse Gala will feature performances from Shanice Williams (NBC's The Wiz Live!), Megan Sikora, Karen Mason and Kat Nejat. In addition, students from Paper Mill's education programs will be featured along with Paper Mill's award-winning Broadway Show Choir, sponsored by Overlook Medical Center.

The gala is proudly sponsored by Investors Bank, Jersey Central Power & Light, Dior, Hilton Short Hills and Jerry Rose Floral and Event Design.

For more information on the Paper Mill Playhouse Gala or to purchase individual tickets, tables or raffle tickets, please contact Leigh Schaedel at 973-315-1663, or visit Paper Mill Playhouse's website,

Paper Mill Playhouse is a not-for-profit arts organization that relies on philanthropic support to make its breathtaking productions, professional training programs, celebrated arts education and outreach possible. All proceeds from the gala support these programs.

"Nearly 400 of our theater's community of influential business executives, civic leaders, discerning consumers and tastemakers will gather together for an evening that reflects the heart, artistry and vitality of Paper Mill Playhouse," stated Mark S. Hoebee, Paper Mill Playhouse's Producing Artistic Director. "This year we are excited to honor the legendary Chita Rivera by bringing together incredible performances for an evening filled with fun, laughter and world-class entertainment.

"We are thrilled to honor Paper Mill Playhouse partners Dior and Brian A. Gragnolati of Atlantic Health System at this year's event," said Todd Schmidt, the theater's Managing Director. "The support of Dior and Atlantic Health System make some of our core programs possible. The annual Paper Mill Playhouse Gala is the event of the season and we look forward to celebrating the success of Paper Mill Playhouse with the greater community"

Chita Rivera will be presented with the Frank Carrington Award for Excellence in the Arts. A true Broadway legend, Chita Rivera is perhaps best known for her portrayal of the fiery Anita in the original production of West Side Story. The two-time Tony winner (and nine-time nominee) also originated a host of iconic theater roles, including Rose in Bye Bye Birdie, Velma Kelly in Chicago and Aurora in Kiss of the Spider Woman. At Paper Mill Playhouse Ms. Rivera starred as Reno Sweeney in the theater's critically acclaimed revival of Anything Goes.

Brian A. Gragnolati, President and Chief Executive Officer of Atlantic Health System, will be presented with the Byrne/Kean Arts Advocate Award. Overlook Medical Center, part of the Atlantic Health System, is the founding sponsor of the Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Show Choir, an award-winning arts education program that engages communities statewide as ambassadors for Paper Mill.

Dior will be presented with the Antoinette Scudder Patron of the Arts Award. Founded in 1947, Christian Dior is one of the world's preeminent Haute Couture houses and creators of prêt-á-porter, leather goods, fine jewelry, watches and accessories. Last year Dior welcomed their first female Artistic Director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, who offers a modern, easy-to-wear and luxurious wardrobe for a confident woman. "I strive to be attentive and open to the world and to create fashion that resembles the women of today," comments Ms. Chiuri.

Paper Mill's own Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director) and Todd Schmidt (Managing Director) will be recognized for outstanding leadership. Mark S. Hoebee joined the artistic team at Paper Mill Playhouse in 2000. Under his leadership, Paper Mill was presented with the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award; launched the American premiere of the 25th Anniversary Production of Les Misérables in 2010, working alongside Cameron Mackintosh; and was home to the world premieres of Newsies in 2011, in partnership with Disney Theatrical Productions, Honeymoon in Vegas in 2013, Ever After and Bandstand in 2015, and A Bronx Tale in 2016. On Broadway, Mark directed the Actors Fund benefit of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starring Jennifer Hudson. He has directed national tours of Victor/Victoria starring Toni Tennille, Dreamgirls, Company, and An Evening of Lerner and Loewe starring Diahann Carroll. Directing credits at Paper Mill include West Side Story; Dreamgirls; Hello, Dolly! starring Tovah Feldshuh; Harold and Maude: The Musical with Estelle Parsons; Meet Me in St. Louis; The King and I; Miss Saigon; Disney's High School Musical; Peter Pan; Smokey Joe's Cafe; Oliver!; Damn Yankees; Thoroughly Modern Millie; Curtains; and The Full Monty starring Elaine Stritch.

Todd Schmidt is proud to serve Paper Mill Playhouse for the past seven seasons that included the world premieres of Newsies, Honeymoon in Vegas, Ever After, Bandstand, and A Bronx Tale, and the US premieres of the 25th Anniversary Production of Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Bodyguard. During this time Paper Mill has regained its status as America's premier musical theater and one of New Jersey's most celebrated cultural institutions. Todd previously was managing director of George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, and prior to that he was executive producer of Peninsula Players Theatre in Wisconsin, where he produced 70 plays and led the theater through a remarkable period of growth, culminating in the opening of a state-of-the-art performance space. In Chicago, Todd worked with Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman, and Apple Tree Theatre, and he directed and produced The Woman in Black (Jeff Award nomination for best production). He serves on the board of ArtPride New Jersey and is chairman of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. He was named one of the 101 Most Influential People in New Jersey by New Jersey Monthly magazine.

The Eddie Bruce Band marries a smoking hot dance ensemble with concert quality vocalists and masterful musicians that drive the dance floor. For more than 25 years, The Eddie Bruce Band has been performing his unique repertoire of music that ranges from Top 40, R&B, disco and house music to swing and Sinatra. Eddie Bruce's interest in music began when he was a child, and he has never wavered from this passion. He has blended his natural entrepreneurial skills with his love of music and created one of the most successful orchestras in the region and one of the best reputations as a much sought-after performer. A regular at Caesars Atlantic City, the Eddie Bruce Orchestra has also performed at Bally's Park Place, the Etess Arena of Trump Taj Mahal as well as such major events as the prestigious Grand Gala Opening of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.

In addition to performances by top Broadway talent celebrating the work of Chita Rivera, students from Paper Mill Playhouse's Arts Education programswill deliver memorable performances during the celebration. The education and outreach programs of Paper Mill Playhouse serve nearly 40,000 young people and educators annually in all regions of the state through in-school residencies, training and arts recognition programs, as well as the Children's Theatre Series. For over 30 years, Paper Mill Playhouse has been helping students of all ages and skill levels develop their passion for performance and communication-qualities that are invaluable in every career, from Broadway to the boardroom. Education programs include Paper Mill Theatre School, Adopt-A-School Project, Rising Star Awards, Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory, August Musical Theatre Intensive, Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Show Choir, guest artist master classes, professional development seminars and Theatre for Everyone programs for children with autism and developmental disabilities.

"For nearly 80 years, Paper Mill Playhouse has been one of the nation's leading not-for-profit theaters," remarked James V. Fakult, Chairman of the Paper Mill Playhouse Board of Trustees and Gala co-chair. "Paper Mill continues to bring world-class artists and outstanding musicals and plays to the community while enriching the lives of nearly 40,000 young people each year through award-winning education outreach, artist training and access programs."

"Supporting Paper Mill Playhouse's gala ensures a bright future for our not-for-profit arts organization," remarked Paper Mill Playhouse Trustee and Gala co-chair Nancy E. Weeks. "This black-tie evening includes dinner, dancing, an unforgettable auction and unparalleled Broadway entertainment."

PAPER MILL MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization under the direction of Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director) and Todd Schmidt (Managing Director) and recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is one of the country's leading regional theaters. Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

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