Paper Mill Playhouse reveals next season has 2 world premiere musicals

Paper Mill Playhouse announces 2017-18 season, which includes two potential Broadway transfers.
Paper Mill Playhouse announces 2017-18 season,  including two potential Broadway transfers.

Give a playhouse the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2016 and watch it turn its 2017-2018 season into one featuring two world premieres — which have all the earmarks of potential Broadway transfers — and two East Coast premieres.

Announced today, the season includes: the world-premiere musical “The Honeymooners” (Sept. 28-Oct. 29), ” Annie” (Nov. 22-Dec. 31),  East Coast premiere of “The Outsider” (Jan. 24-Feb. 18), the world premiere of “The Sting” (March 29-April 29) in a new musical stage adaptation,  and the East Coast premiere of the comedy “Half Time” (May 31-July 1).

Paper Mill  — which for way too long used to include mostly recycled revivals of popular but somewhat tired musical classics — will hit the ground running in September with the world premiere of “The Honeymooners” (based on the classic TV series) and followed in March by “The Sting” (based on the movie). Both musicals are directed by John Rando, the Tony Award winner for Best Direction of a Musical for “Urinetown the Musical” in 2002 and a nomination in the same category in 2015 for the revival of “On the Town.”

“We are excited to launch Paper Mill Playhouse’s new season with the world premiere of ‘The Honeymooners’, Rando said. “This new American musical comedy celebrates the universal story of two underdogs striving to achieve their dreams, and the compromises of their married lives.  I believe this hilarious and touching show will strongly resonate with Paper Mill audiences.”

The season also includes the East Coast premieres of “The Outsider,” a comedy and timely commentary on modern American politics by Paul Slade Smith.

“Paper Mill Playhouse is currently in negotiations for a director for ‘The Outsider’,” remarked Shayne Austin Miller, the theater’s director of press and public relations. “We hope to announce a director in the coming months.”


"Half Time" (formerly "Gotta Dance") is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell ('Kinky Boots"). It's a true story about 10 senior citizens who audition to dance at halftime for a major basketball team. Only after making the cut do they learn they won’t be dancing tap, salsa or swing — they will have to learn hip-hop. (PHOTO: Matthew Murphy)
“Half Time” (formerly “Gotta Dance”) is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell (‘Kinky Boots”). It’s a true story about 10 senior citizens who audition to dance at halftime for a major basketball team. Only after making the cut do they learn they won’t be dancing tap, salsa or swing — they will have to learn hip-hop. (PHOTO: Matthew Murphy)

The season will close with “Half Time” (formerly “Gotta Dance”) directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, whose credits include directing and choreographing the original “Legally Blonde: The Musical.”

“I am thrilled our new musical “Half Time” will be a part of the very exciting 2017-2018 Paper Mill season,” Mitchell said. “Half Time celebrates the singular power of music and dance to unleash big emotions and bring people together.  We can’t wait to share it with the amazing audiences at Paper Mill.”

Annie” is the theater’s holiday offering, running from Nov. 22 through Dec. 31, and directed by Paper Mill’s artistic director Mark S. Hoebee.

“Paper Mill Playhouse is thrilled to produce two world premieres, two East Coast premieres, and a tried-and-true family classic for all ages in our exciting 2017-18 season,” Hoebee said. “With two of our recent productions currently playing on Broadway (“A Bronx Tale“ and “Bandstand”), Paper Mill Playhouse has become one of the nation’s leading theater incubators, nurturing shows in multiple stages of development. This season we’re honored to collaborate with some of the finest creative talent in the industry including Tony Award winners Jerry Mitchell and John Rando.”

Not bad for a company that 10 years ago was on the verge of closing.

On April 3, 2007, Paper Mill announced it needed $3 million to open its doors and complete a five-production season. A little more than a year later, Millburn purchased the theater and its surrounding four acres for $9 million and signed a 75-year lease with the theater. Running of the theater remains independent and it has the option to repurchase the property from the town after 11 years of the lease.

Subsequently, “Newsies” made its world premiere here in 2011 followed by “Honeymoon in Vegas” in 2013, “The Bandstand” in 2015 and “A Bronx Tale” in 2016. All eventually transferred to Broadway.  The trend appears to b continuing this season.

“Paper Mill Playhouse’s 2017-2018 season is one of the most exciting lineups in our theater’s history,” said managing director Todd Schmidt.

“We are very excited to bring ‘The Sting’ to Paper Mill; an American classic reinvented for the stage,” said the show’s Tony award-winning book writer Bob Martin. “It retains all of the wit and depression era charm of the original, the complex characters, the sophisticated story, the twists and surprises, and adds a sly self-awareness that keeps it relevant. ‘The Sting’ is a rollicking musical comedy confidence game that we are eager to play with the Paper Mill audiences.”


Paper Mill Playhouse will produce eight performances a week, Wednesdays through Sundays. Three, four and five-show subscription packages are available now starting at $110. Each subscription packages available now and include a different levels of special benefits (see for details). Youth subscriptions are available for children ages 4-18 with the purchase of an adult subscription with accessible discount pricing. Single tickets will go on sale in August starting at just $34.

Tickets and subscriptions available at 973-376-4343, or at the Paper Mill Playhouse box office at 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, or online at  Groups of 10 or more receive up to a 40% discount on tickets. Call 973-315-1680 for details. Titles, casting and dates subject to change.


Paper Mill Playhouse’s 2017-2018 Season


The Honeymooners (World Premiere)

September 28 through October 29, 2017

Book by Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss

Music by Stephen Weiner

Lyrics by Peter Mills

Choreographed by Joshua Bergasse

Directed by John Rando


The Honeymooners is a brand new musical comedy inspired by the classic television series.  Ralph Kramden and his buddy Ed Norton are back and still shooting for the moon in this world-premiere musical.  After shocking their wives by winning a high-profile jingle contest, they are catapulted out of Brooklyn and into the cutthroat world of Madison Avenue advertising, where they discover that their quest for the American Dream might cost them their friendship. Filled with big laughs and an infectious score, The Honeymooners will bang-zoom its way into your heart.



November 22 through December 31, 2017

Book by Thomas Meehan

Music by Charles Strouse

Lyrics by Martin Charnin

Based on “Little Orphan Annie”

Choreographed by Denis Jones

Directed by Mark S. Hoebee


Annie, the world’s best-loved family musical returns to Paper Mill Playhouse just in time for the holidays. Little orphan Annie is taken from her orphanage, and the clutches of cruel Miss Hannigan, to stay at billionaire Oliver Warbucks’ mansion for the holidays. When Annie wins the hearts of Warbucks and his staff, they set out on an epic mission to find Annie’s parents.  Winner of the Best Musical Tony Award, Annie includes such unforgettable songs as “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “A New Deal for Christmas,” plus the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”


The Outsider (East Coast Premiere)

January 24 through February 18, 2018

By Paul Slade Smith


At once a razor-sharp comedy and a sincere tribute to democracy, The Outsider is a timely and hilarious take on modern American politics. Ned Newley doesn’t even want to be governor. He is terrified of public speaking; his poll numbers are impressively bad. To his ever-supportive chief of staff, Ned seems destined to fail. But a political guru named Arthur Vance sees things a little differently: Ned might be the worst candidate to ever run for office. Unless the public is looking for… the worst candidate to ever run for office.


The Sting, a new musical (World Premiere)

March 29 through April 29, 2018

Book by Bob Martin

Music by Mark Hollmann

Lyrics by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis

Based on the 1973 film “The Sting”

Choreographed by Warren Carlyle

Directed by John Rando


Chicago. 1936. Get ready to enter a smoke-filled world of cons and capers, where nothing is what it seems and no one is who they appear to be. Based on the 1973 Academy Award-winning film, The Sting tells the tale of a pair of con men, small town grifter Johnny Hooker and big time hustler Henry Gondorff, who plot to bring down the city’s most corrupt racketeer. The Tony Award-winning creative team includes director John Rando (On The Town), choreographer Warren Carlyle (Hello Dolly!), bookwriter Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone), and an original score by composer/lyricist team Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis (Urinetown). The Sting takes you back to an era where the blues reigns, the stakes are high, and the dice are always loaded.


Half Time, a new musical (East Coast Premiere)

May 31 through July 1, 2018

Book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin

Music by Matthew Sklar

Lyrics by Nell Benjamin

Additional Music by Marvin Hamlisch and Ester Dean

Co-choreographed by Nick Kenkel

Directed & Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell


From the director/choreographer of Kinky Boots comes the incredible true story of ten ordinary seniors with extraordinary dreams who audition to dance at halftime for a major basketball team. Only after making the cut do they learn they won’t be dancing tap, salsa or swing—instead, they will bring down the house with a style that is entirely new to them: hip-hop. Take the uplifting journey with these dreamers—and the young coaches who inspire them along the way—as they battle self-doubt, stereotypes and even each other for a chance to bust a move at center court in front of 20,000 screaming fans. Together they remind us that in life, when the odds are stacked against you and the challenges seem too great to overcome, it’s not the end of the game—it’s Half Time.


Paper Mill Playhouse offers people with disabilities the opportunity to see live theater with dignity and independence through a myriad of award-winning access programs and services, including audio description and sensory seminars for the blind, Braille and large-print programs, American Sign Language interpretation for the deaf, open-captioning for those with hearing loss, and assistive listening devices.