Andrew lloyd Webber out, Alice Walker is in for Paper Mill’s season opener

Adrianna Hicks (Celie), N'Jameh Camara (Nettie) and the North American tour cast of "The Color Purple." (PHOTO: Matthew Murphy)
Adrianna Hicks (Celie), N’Jameh Camara (Nettie) and the North American tour cast of “The Color Purple.” (PHOTO: Matthew Murphy)

John Doyle’s production of “The Color Purple” will open the 2018-2019 Paper Mill Playhouse season, replacing Andrew lloyd Webber’s previously announced world premiere “Unmasked.”

“We received news last week from our producing partners in London that due to unforeseen scheduling issues, “Unmasked” can no longer be presented as part of our 2018-2019 Paper Mill Playhouse season,” said Mark S. Hoebee, producing artistic director,  in a prepared statement. “We look forward to presenting it in a future season.”

Scheduled to run from Sept. 26 to Oct. 21, the musical features a Grammy-winning score infused with jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues, . It’s based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-nominated feature film. Casting will be announced at a later date. 

The stage musical has a book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Stephen Bray, Brenda Russell, and Allee Willis. It centers on the inspirational Celie as she journeys from childhood through joy and despair, anguish and hope to discover the power of love and life.

The original Broadway production ran from 2005 to 2008, earning 11 Tony Award nominations. An acclaimed Broadway revival opened in late 2015 and ran through early 2017, winning two 2016 Tony Awards—including Best Revival of a Musical.

“ ‘The Color Purple’ is a title that has been on my wish list for a number of years and we are thrilled to produce this masterpiece for our audience,” Hoebee said.  “John Doyle’s visionary reimagining of this powerful tale will take our audiences on an unforgettable journey.”

Tickets and performances

Paper Mill Playhouse will produce eight performances a week, Wednesdays through Sundays. Three, four and five-show subscription packages are available now starting at $111. Each subscription package includes a different level 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 on August 20 starting at $35.

Tickets and subscriptions may be purchased at the box office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at

Groups of 10 or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680.

Subscribers who have chosen “Unmasked” as part of their series will automatically have their seats transferred to The Color Purple. If subscribers would like add tickets to “The Color Purple” or modify their subscription,  call the Paper Mill Playhouse subscriptions office at 973.379.3717.

The rest of the season

Following “The Color Purple,” Paper Mill Playhouse will produce  “Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn” (Nov. 21-Dec. 30) based on the Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire film. This production features more than 20 classic songs from the Berlin catalog, including “Easter Parade,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Steppin’ Out with My Baby,” and “White Christmas.”

Next, Paper Mill Playhouse presents the world-premiere musical “My Very Own British Invasion” (Jan. 31-March 3), directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. The 1960s British music scene features songs from Herman’s Hermits, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Petula Clark, The Moody Blues, and other legendary bands of the era.

The spring brings the East Coast premiere of “Benny & Joon” (April 4-May 5). Based on the 1993 film which starred Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson, this new musical is a smart, funny, tender-hearted celebration of love: between children and parents; romantic partners; friends; and, most of all, siblings.

The season  final production of the season, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” (May 29-June 30), an international sensation that has played to more than 35 million people in 13 countries. Based on the Academy Award–winning animated feature, the stage production includes all of the original songs from the movie by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, plus additional gems by Menken and Tim Rice. Titles, casting and dates subject to change.

Insider experiences

Paper Mill Playhouse offers its audience an opportunity to enhance their theater experience with behind-the-scenes views of main stage productions.  Have you ever wanted to sneak a peek behind the curtain? Or wondered what the director was thinking, or how the cast prepares for a show? Join us for one of many revealing insider’s experiences.  Visit the Paper Mill Playhouse website at for dates for our Director’s Viewpoint Series, Conversation Club Series, Q&A’s with the cast and more.

Services for people with disabilities

Paper Mill Playhouse offers people with disabilities the opportunity to see live theater with dignity and independence through 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. In addition, Paper Mill Playhouse provides autism-friendly performances of both main stage and children’s shows throughout the season.