The Paper Mill Playhouse has released a video of its world premiere of “The Honeymooners,” now in previews, opening Sunday (Oct. 8) in Millburn, NJ. Michael McGrath as Ralph Kramden, Michael Mastro as Ed Norton, Leslie Kritzer as Alice Kramden, and Tony Award-nominee Laura Bell Bundy as Trixie Norton. Lewis J. Stadlen plays Old Man Faciamatta, Lewis Cleale is Bryce Bennett, and David Wohl is Allen Upshaw.
Not many Americans are alive today who watched the original broadcast of “The Honeymooners,” the iconic TV show created by Jackie Gleason that has morphed into a limited run world premiere musical (after two previous attempts) that begins performances today (Sept. 28) at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and probably is Broadway bound.
It’s based on the 1950s CBS television series that featured Gleason as bus driver Ralph Kramden; Audrey Meadows his as faithful but sharp-tongued wife Alice, Art Carney as his best friend Ed Norton, a sewer worker, and his wife Joyce Randolph and best friend to Alice.
Coming full circle, Gleason’s skits about working-class married couples in a gritty Brooklyn apartment originally were broadcast live in front of a theater audience on the DuMont network’s variety series “Cavalcade of Stars,” which Gleason hosted, and subsequently on the CBS network’s “The Jackie Gleason Show” (1951–55).
Nice, big, fat shout-out to Paper Mill Playhouse Saturday night during the Channel 13 screening of the 1951 version of “Show Boat” as part of its weekly Reel 13 classic movie feature.
At the end of “Show Boat” Prof. Richard Peña, currently the director of programming at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, talked about all the changes made to musical over the years including downplaying the African-American characters, changing offensive lyrics, eliminating songs.
He noted that a live performance by the Paper Mill Playhouse was videotaped for television and shown on Great Performances on PBS contains more of the songs (and fewer cuts) than any of the film versions. It also restored not only the original book of the 1927 Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein but other songs and dance numbers thrown away over the years, he said.
“Let’s just cut to the chase. Nat Zegree practically steals the show at Paper Mill Playhouse playing the brash — let’s make that audacious — Jerry Lee Lewis in “Million Dollar Quartet.” He ought to know what he’s doing by now as it’s the fifth time he’s played that part in the many productions of this jukebox musical about an unplanned event some say is a seminal moment in rock ‘n’ roll history.
The 2 1/2 musical features more than 20 classic hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Memories Are Made of This,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Hound Dog,” “(Ghost Riders in the Sky” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.”
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.
Paper Mill Playhouse has launched its 2016-17 season with “The Producers” and will follow it with the U.S. premiere of “The Bodyguard.”
First, a hit Broadway musical winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards and ran for six years. (“Hamilton” had the most Tony Award nominations-16.)
Second, a musical based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 movie that first was staged in London (2012-14), launches its national tour in Millburn (Nov. 25 to Jan. 1) starring Grammy Award-nominated R&B singer Deborah Cox and, one assumes, eventually will make its way to Broadway.
Paper Mill Playhouse starts its season next week with “The Producers” (Sept. 28, opening night Oct. 2). If you missed the original that ran for 2,502 Broadway performances, got a record 12 Tony Awards nominations, and became a 2005 film … don’t let that stop you seeing it again at this theater that keeps sending shows to Broadway. (Look for “A Bronx Tale” at the Longacre Theatre in November.)
“It’s a thrill to revisit this hilarious show as a director, having played the part of Leo on tour and on Broadway,” commented director Don Stephenson. “To build ‘The Producers’ at Paper Mill Playhouse is ideal. The facilities and the support that artists receive make for an enjoyable and seamless creative process.”
From left, Ilda Mason (Estella), Lauren Csete (Consuelo), Natalie Cortez (Anita), Lisa Finegold (Francisca) and Alexia Sky (Teresita) in “West Side Story” at Paper Mill Playhouse. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
A scene from the dance in the gym in “West Side Story” at Paper Mill Playhouse. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
The Jets and the Sharks in “West Side Story at “West Side Story” at Paper Mill Playhouse. Photo by Matthew Murphy
Matt Doyle (Tony) and Belinda Allyn (Maria) in the bridal shop of “West Side Story.” Photo by Jerry Dalia
From left, Danny Bevins (Pepe), German Alexander (Bernardo) and Dean Andre de Luna (Chino) in “West Side Story” at Paper Mill Playhouse. Photo by Jerry Dalia.
Matt Doyle (Tony) and Belinda Allyn (Maria). Photo by Jerry Dalia
Mikey Winslow (Riff), center, and the Jets in “West Side Story” at Paper Mill Playhouse. Photo by Jerry Dalia
Matt Doyle as Tony (center) and the company of “West Side Story” West Side Story at Paper Mill Playhouse. Photo by Matthew Murphy
The only thing wrong with “West Side Story” at Paper Mill Playhouse is that it ends on June 26. It’s the first time its been done here in 25 years so grab it while you can.
Helmed by Producing Artistic Director Mark Hoebee, the timing couldn’t be better for the theater (just finishing its 78 season) that recently was awarded the Regional Theatre Tony award. It also sent both “Newsies” and “Honeymoon in Vegas” to Broadway and will host the American premiere of “Bodyguard” next season. It’s firing on all cylinders with no end in sight.
“West Side Story,” now in previews at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, opens on Sunday and even before the reviews are in, it is almost sold out, according to its website.
And why not? It’s a professional production at a theater that not only will receive the 2016 Tony Award for Best Regional Theatre on June 12, it has produced five world premieres in the past five years — two this season alone.
Paper Mill Playhouse, which in the past few years has sent several shows to Broadway including “A Bronx Tale” and “The Bandstand”planned for next season, has won the 2016 Best Regional Theatre Tony Award , it was announced today.