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Review: THE WANDERER at Paper Mill Playhouse-Musical Theatre to Treasure

BWW Review: THE WANDERER at Paper Mill Playhouse

Review: THE WANDERER at Paper Mill Playhouse-Musical Theatre to Treasure

"I'm doing this to be true." By Dion in The Wanderer

Paper Mill Playhouse is now presenting the vibrant world premiere of The Wanderer. Based on the life and music of Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Dion DiMucci, it features a stellar cast that performs an array of memorable and legendary songs. We attended opening night when the show received a rousing standing ovation. And for a good reason. The production is musical theatre at its best. Dion was even present on stage for the final curtain call.

The Wanderer is expertly directed by Kenneth Ferrone and enjoys inspired choreography by Sarah O'Gleby with top-notch music supervision, arrangement, and orchestrations by Sonny Paladino. The book is by Charles Messina and the show is being produced in cooperation with Dion DiMucci.

Review: THE WANDERER at Paper Mill Playhouse-Musical Theatre to Treasure

Set in the Bronx between the years of 1958 to 1968, these are transformative years for Dion. A tough neighborhood kid, he lives with his loving mother, Frances and his contentious father, Pat. As a teen, Dion gains fame for his musical talents with his group, Dion and the Belmonts. He is also an avid guitarist with a particular vision for his music. There are exciting times ahead when Dion is invited to go on tour with Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens. But when the trip turns into a tragedy, Dion experiences a downward spiral and his drug addiction threatens his future. With the support of family, friends, the church, and especially his girlfriend, Susan, there is great hope for Dion's success on the horizon.

Review: THE WANDERER at Paper Mill Playhouse-Musical Theatre to Treasure

The Wanderer has scenes that are humorous and poignant. Paper Mill Playhouse has assembled a cast that is wonderfully suited to tell Dion's story and celebrate his career with the show's well-crafted dialogue and impeccably performed musical numbers. Leading the cast is Mike Wartella as Dion; Christy Altomare as Susan; Joey McIntyre as Johnny; Kingsley Leggs as Willie Green; Jasmine Rogers as Melody Green; Jeffrey Schecter as Bob Schwartz; Johnny Tammaro as Pat DiMucci; and Joli Tribuzio as Frances DiMucci. The multi-talented ensemble cast features Joe Barbara, Mackenzie Bell, Stephen Cerf, Jordan Dobson, Josh Dunn, Billy Finn, Natalie Gallo, Miguel Jarquin-Moreland, Will Jewett, Michal Kolaczkowski, Jess LeProtto, Janayé McAlpine, Katie Pohlman, Sydney Skye, and Gabi Stapula.

Review: THE WANDERER at Paper Mill Playhouse-Musical Theatre to Treasure

Whether you're tapping your toes to the rhythm of the music or sitting back and enjoying the beautiful verses, the score of The Wanderer with many of Dion's hits is sure to please a lot of musical tastes. The first big number, "King of the New York Streets" performed by the entire company sets the stage for the spectacular production that features a total of 29 songs. Included in the score is "Only You" by Dion; "The Son of Skip James" by Willie; "A Teenager in Love" by Susan; a medley of songs performed by Dion, Richie Valens, Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly; "You Belong to Me" by Johnny; and "Abraham, Martin, and John" by Dion. The show takes you from the streets of the Bronx, to a televised American Bandstand, a local church Feast of St. Anthony, Dion and Susan's wedding, and to The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour show.

Review: THE WANDERER at Paper Mill Playhouse-Musical Theatre to Treasure

The Orchestra, conducted by Sonny Paladino brings the music to life. Instrumentalists include keyboards by Sonny Paladino and Robert Cookman; Woodwinds by John de Simini; Guitars by Kenny Brescia and Robert Cookman; Bass by Winston Roye; Drums/Percussion by Grand Braddock. The Orchestra Contractor is Steve Gelfand and the Keyboard Programing is by Snthlink LLC/Jim Harp.

The scenes for The Wanderer have elaborate, impressive settings. The production team includes scenic design by Beowulf Boritt; costume design by Sarah Laux; lighting design by Jake DeGroot; sound design by Tony Award winner John Shivers; and hair & wig design by Charles G. LaPointe. Rick Sordelet and Christian Kelly-Sordelet are the Fight Directors; Steven Van Zandt is the Music Consultant; and Linda Marvel serves as the Production Stage Manager. Casting is by The Telsey Office, Patrick Goodwin, CSA.

Congratulations to Producing Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee and Managing Director, Mike Stotts for bringing The Wanderer to the Millburn stage. It is destined to be a hit. See it while you can now through April 24th.

Tickets for The Wanderer start at $36 and may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at All major credit cards accepted. Groups of 10 or more may receive up to a 20% discount on tickets and should call 973.376.4343. Students may order $20 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office on the day of the performance. Subscription packages are also available starting at just $114.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

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