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Paper Mill Playhouse Announces Cast and Creative Team for "Sister Act"

Paper Mill Playhouse Announces Cast and Creative Team for "Sister Act"

(MILLBURN, NJ) -- Paper Mill Playhouse has announced the cast and creative team for the hit Broadway musical Sister Act with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner, and additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane, based on the Touchstone Pictures Motion Picture Sister Act written by Joseph Howard.  Sister Act runs from Wednesday, April 1 through Sunday, April 26, 2020 at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn.

Based on the 1992 hit film, Sister Act is a feel-good musical comedy smash that sizzles with powerful music, spectacular dancing, and a story brimming with heart. The madcap plot is set in motion when disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder and must go into hiding in a convent—where she clashes, hilariously, with cloistered life. Deloris inspires the sisters with her soulful style, but the church choir’s newfound fame attracts the attention of the bad guys. Featuring original music by Tony and eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (NewsiesBeauty and the BeastLittle Shop of Horrors), the musical was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The cast will feature Tony nominee Nancy Opel as Mother Superior, Nicole Vanessa Ortiz as Deloris, Jarran Muse as Curtis, Lael Van Keuren as Sister Mary Robert, Christian Dante White as Eddie, Blake Hammond as Monsignor, Anthony Alfaro as Pablo, Diane J. Findlay as Sister Mary Lazarus, Kara Mikula as Sister Mary Patrick, Ryan Gregory Thurman as TJ, and Jacob Keith Watson as Joey.

Rounding out the cast are Michael Andreaus, Jared Bradshaw, Rachelle Rose Clark, Madeleine Doherty, Denzel Edmondson, Dion Simmons Grier, Ashley Masula, Stephanie Miller, Alaina Mills, Chandler Reeves, Michael Schimmele, Alyson Snyder, Anne Fraser Thomas, Ariana Valdes, Zuri Washington, Christian Dante White and Kristen Beth Williams.

Direction by Jerry Zaks is being restaged by Steven Beckler with choreography by Anthony Van Laast being restaged by Janet Rothermel, and music direction by Christopher Babbage. The production team includes original scenic design by Klara Zieglerova, scenic coordination and associate design by Nancy Thun, original costume design by Lez Brotherston, costume coordination and additional design by Leon Dobkowski, lighting design by Charlie Morrison, sound design by Matt Kraus, and hair & wig design by Kaitlyn Adams.  The Production Stage Manager is Daniel Everett. Casting is by Binder Casting.

Sister Act will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday. Performance schedule April 1 - 5: Wednesday at 7:30pm, Thursday at 1:30pm and 7:30pm, Friday at 7:30pm, Saturday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm. Performance schedule April 8 - 26: Wednesdays at 7:00pm, Thursdays at 1:30pm and 7:00pm, Fridays at 7:00pm, Saturdays at 1:30pm and 7:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm.  Tickets start at $32 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 www.PaperMill.org. All major credit cards accepted. Groups of 10 or more may receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680.  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.



ANTHONY ALFARO (Pablo). Paper Mill debut! National Tours: On Your Feet! (first national), Mamma Mia!. Off Broadway: The View UpStairs (original cast), The Loophole (Public Theater). Regional credits include Miss You Like Hell (Baltimore Center Stage) and Sister Act (Arvada Center, Fulton Theatre, NSMT). As a vocalist Anthony has appeared at the Kennedy Center and is the front man of Tony & The Kiki, whose debut album is to be released later this year.

DIANE J. FINDLAY (Sister Mary Lazarus) was last seen at Paper Mill in Funny Girl. Broadway: Fish in the DarkHello, Dolly!Tales of the City (benefit concert). Encores!: 70, Girls, 70Follies. Off Broadway: Minnie’s BoysFlamingo CourtThe Gay Divorce. National Tours: Sister ActPromises, Promises42nd Street. Regional: Steel MagnoliasThe Spitfire GrillThe Full MontyDear WorldMame, to name a few. Pilots: The Other TwoThe Good CopFriends of the PeopleLaw & Order. Film: Inside Llewyn DavisThe ProducersGammera. Las Vegas Female Performer of the Year Award (Hallelujah Hollywood), SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award nomination (Tales of the City), LA Drama Critics Circle Award nomination (Sister Act).

BLAKE HAMMOND (Monsignor O’Hara) is excited to make his debut at Paper Mill Playhouse. Broadway: Living on LoveFirst DateSister ActElfBilly ElliotThe Lion KingHairsprayThe Music ManKiss Me, KateOn the Town. Off Broadway: When Pigs FlyCarnival! and Do Re Mi (Encores!). National Tours: Hello, Dolly!Something Rotten!CinderellaThe Addams FamilyJoseph…Dreamcoat. Regional: The Producers (Joseph Jefferson nomination), At Wit’s End (Carbonell and Chicago After Dark awards, Joseph Jefferson nomination), When Pigs Fly (LA Drama Critics Circle Award). Numerous film and TV credits including the award-winning web series Then We Got Help (Indy Soap Award).

KARA MIKULA (Sister Mary Patrick). Off Broadway: The Cradle Will Rock (Sister Mister/Professor Trixie/Pianist) at Classic Stage Company, directed by John Doyle; Allegro (understudied six actor-musicians, performed Marjorie) at Classic Stage Company, also directed by John Doyle. National Tours: Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (Mrs. Snoring Man, understudied and performed Martha Watson), directed/choreographed by Randy Skinner. Developmental Work: Les Belles (Mlle. Rheauna Bibeau), directed by Sarna Lapine; Fancy: The Musical, directed/choreographed by Denis Jones. Regional: Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Arizona Theatre Company, Bay Street Theater, KC Starlight, Ogunquit Playhouse, Pittsburgh CLO, Riverside Theatre, and more.

JARRAN MUSE (Curtis). A native of North Plainfield, NJ, Jarran couldn’t be happier performing in his home state and making his debut at Paper Mill Playhouse! Broadway/NYC: Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations (principal standby); Motown: The Musical (Marvin Gaye); Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (Jimmy); Hallelujah, Baby! (Clem); Dreamgirls (Apollo Theater). Tours: Neil Berg’s 50 Years of Rock & Roll (lead vocalist), Green Day’s American Idiot (Favorite Son), 42nd Street (Billy Lawlor), DreamgirlsHairsprayPride & Joy: The Marvin Gaye Musical (Marvin Gaye).

NANCY OPEL (Mother Superior). has appeared in 15 Broadway shows including Wicked, Beautiful, Honeymoon in Vegas, Cinderella, Memphis, Gypsy, Fiddler on the Roof, Urinetown, Triumph of Love, Anything Goes, Sunday in the Park with George, Evita, others.  Regional credits include Clue (Cape Playhouse), Follies (St. Louis Rep.), Prince of Broadway (Japan), Honeymoon in Vegas (Paper Mill Playhouse), Holiday Inn (St. Louis Muny), Hello,Dolly! (Ford’s Theater, DC), among others.  Off Broadway includes Curvy Widow, Toxic Avenger, My Deah, Polish Joke, Mere Mortals, All in the Timing, and more. National Tour: The Drowsy Chaperone.  TV: “The Big C”, “Law & Order.”  Juilliard School, Drama Division.

NICOLE VANESSA ORTIZ (Deloris Van Cartier), from Newark, NJ, is honored to be making her Paper Mill Playhouse debut! Her credits include playing Rusty in Footloose at the Kennedy Center (2019), Sarah in Ragtime at Serenbe Playhouse (2019), the Off Broadway revival of Smokey Joe’s Cafe (2018), and the Leading Lady of Spamilton: An American Parody (2017). She is also the 2012 winner of Wendy’s Next Great Voice on The Wendy Williams Show and was a top 45 finalist in season 5 of American Idol.


RYAN GREGORY THURMAN (TJ). Paper Mill debut! Recent: Sebastian in Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Argyle Theatre), Oklahoma! (Pittsburgh CLO), Pokémon: The 90s Rock Show (The Neon Coven). National Tour: Store Manager in Elf. Norwegian Cruise Line: After Midnight. Regional: Peter and the Starcatcher (Dobama), Sweeney Todd (Mac-Haydn), Hairspray (Palace Theatre), Show Boat (Fiddlehead Theatre Company). Proud Cleveland native and Point Park University alum.

LAEL VAN KEUREN (Sister Mary Robert). Paper Mill Playhouse alum and Sparta, NJ native. Paper Mill: Hello, Dolly!Cinderella (2005). Broadway: Sister Act (original cast). First National Tours: Finding Neverland (Sylvia Llewelyn Davies), Sister Act (Sister Mary Robert). Other credits include Panama Hattie (York Theatre Company), Paradise Square (Berkley Rep), Mary Poppins (North Shore Music Theatre) and The Will Rogers Follies (Maltz Jupiter Theatre).

JACOB KEITH WATSON (Joey) is thrilled to return to Paper Mill after appearing as Waldo in Benny & Joon last spring. Jacob’s Broadway credits include the most recent revivals of Carousel as Mr. Enoch Snow and Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler, as well as the Broadway productions of VioletThe Phantom of the Opera, and Amelie. Other New York appearances include 1776 and Mack & Mabel at Encores! Regional and tour credits include Amos Hart in Chicago and Shrek in Shrek: The Musical, among many others.

CHRISTIAN DANTE WHITE (Eddie). Broadway: My Fair LadyHello, Dolly!Shuffle Along…The Book of MormonThe Scottsboro Boys (also London). National Tour: The Book of MormonMotownHairspray. Other theater credits include On the Town (with the Boston Pops); Cotton Club ParadeLost in the StarsThe Wiz (Encores!); The Scottsboro Boys (Ahmanson Theatre, Vineyard); Jersey Boys. TV/Film: A. Mann’s World (NBC). Education: Interlochen Arts Academy, Circle in the Square Theatre School.



ALAN MENKEN (Music). Stage musicals: God Bless You, Mr. RosewaterLittle Shop of HorrorsBeauty and the BeastA Christmas CarolThe Little MermaidSister ActLeap of FaithNewsiesAladdinThe Hunchback of Notre DameThe Apprenticeship of Duddy KravitzKicksA Bronx Tale. Film: The Little MermaidBeauty and the BeastNewsiesAladdinPocahontasThe Hunchback of Notre DameHerculesEnchantedTangled. Television: Sesame StreetLincolnThe NeighborsGalavant. Awards: Tony, Drama Desk, eight Oscars, 11 Grammys, seven Golden Globes, London’s Evening Standard, Olivier, Outer Critics Circle. Honors: Songwriters Hall of Fame, Billboard #1 single and album, Disney Legend, Hollywood Walk of Fame, doctorates from NYU and UNCSA.

GLENN SLATER (Lyrics). Broadway: A Bronx Tale (premiered at Paper Mill), School of RockSister Act (2011 Tony nominee for best score), The Little Mermaid (2008 Tony nominee, best score; Grammy nominee, best musical theater album), Leap of Faith (2012 Tony nominee, best musical). West End: Love Never Dies (2010 Olivier nominee, best musical). Off Broadway: Newyorkers (Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations). Film: Tangled (2011 Grammy winner, 2010 Oscar and Golden Globe nominee), Home on the Range. TV: Galavant (two seasons), The Neighbors (2013 Emmy nominee, best song). Twitter: @SlaterLyrics

CHERI STEINKELLNER & BILL STEINKELLNER (Book). Eight Emmys, four Golden Globes, two BAFTAs, People’s Choice, Parent’s Choice, Writers Guild, TV Land Legend, and Annie awards for writing/producing Cheers and creating Disney’s acclaimed animated series/feature film Teacher’s Pet. They wrote one of TV Guide’s top three funniest television episodes of all time for Cheers. Other TV: The JeffersonsWho’s the Boss?The Facts of LifeFamily TiesBobSister Act on Broadway was nominated for Tony Awards for best book and best musical. Other Broadway: Bill cowrote The Pee-wee Herman Show. Off Broadway: Cheri cowrote Mosaic (Primary Stages). West End: Sister Act (Olivier nomination, best new musical). Others: Princesses; Cheri’s Hello! My BabyInstaplay, LA’s first and longest running improvised musical comedy.

DOUGLAS CARTER BEANE (Additional Book Material). Musicals: The Band Wagon (Encores!), Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CinderellaSister Act (Tony nomination), Xanadu (Tony nomination; Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle awards). Plays: Shows for DaysThe NanceThe Little Dog Laughed (Tony, Olivier nominations; GLAAD Media Award), Mr. & Mrs. FitchAs Bees in Honey Drown (OCC John Gassner Playwriting Award), Advice from a CaterpillarThe Country ClubMusic from a Sparkling PlanetThe Cartells. Revues: White LiesThe Late, Late ShowMondo Drama. Opera: Die Fledermaus (Met debut). Screenplays: To Wong Foo…Advice from a Caterpillar (Best Feature, Aspen Comedy Festival).

JERRY ZAKS (Director) is currently represented on Broadway by Mrs. Doubtfire and the upcoming The Music Man. He has won four Tony Awards and has been nominated eight times; he also has won four Drama Desk Awards, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, and an Obie. Broadway: Meteor ShowerHello, Dolly!A Bronx Tale (also at Paper Mill); Shows for DaysSister ActThe Addams FamilyGuys and DollsSix Degrees of SeparationLend Me a TenorThe House of Blue LeavesLittle Shop of HorrorsAssassins; and many more. He directed the award-winning film Marvin’s Room starring Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton. Mr. Zaks received the SDC’s Mr. Abbott Award for lifetime achievement and is in the Theater Hall of Fame.

ANTHONY VAN LAAST (Choreographer). Credits include Mamma Mia! (worldwide- Dora Mavor Moore Award), Side Show (Broadway), Bombay Dreams (Tony nomination, Drama Desk nomination), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (worldwide—Olivier nomination), Song and Dance (Green Room Award), and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical now on Broadway. Concerts: Cher, Kate Bush, Sarah Brightman. Film: Mamma Mia! Here We Go AgainBeauty and the BeastMamma Mia!Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Mr. Van Laast was awarded the CBE for his service to dance.

STEVEN BECKLER (Production Director) has mounted productions of Sister Act in England, Brazil, and Singapore as well two US touring productions and in Ogunquit, Maine. He directed Guys and Dolls at the old Desert Inn hotel in Las Vegas starring Jack Jones, Maureen McGovern, and Frank Goshen, and at the Ogunquit Playhouse starring Richard Kind, Liz Larsen, and Christian Hoff. He directed the 1991 Paper Mill Playhouse production of Lend Me a Tenor starring Patrick Quinn, Judy Blazer, and Robert Cuccioli. On Broadway Steve has been the original production stage manager of over 35 plays and musicals including WickedFootloose’Night Mother, and The Dresser.

JANET ROTHERMEL (Production Choreographer) Theater: Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, (Broadway), Mamma Mia! (Broadway, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and US national tours); Side Show (Broadway); Sister Act (Broadway, US national tours, Asia tour); Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Broadway, Germany, US national tours); Rock of Ages Tenth Anniversary Tour. Television: Dancing with the StarsThe Today ShowThe ViewGood Morning America, Tony Awards, Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. Film: Beauty and the Beast (Disney, 2017), Mamma Mia! (2008).

CHRISTOPHER BABBAGE (Music Director) began his work with Sister Act on the first national tour (associate conductor) and subsequently conducted the second national and Asian tours. He is Music Supervisor for Tuacahn Center for the Arts, where outstanding credits include The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Stephen Schwartz’s The Prince of Egypt, and the upcoming Frank Wildhorn musical The Count of Monte Cristo. Other tours: Smokey Joe’s CafeGrease (Asia), Cats (national and Latin America), and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Other regional: Muny, Arvada Center, Circa ’21, Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. Christopher received Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from SUNY Fredonia.

KLARA ZIEGLEROVA (Scenic Design). Broadway: Sister ActThe Farnsworth InventionJersey Boys (Tony Award nomination), The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. West End: Sister ActJersey Boys. Off Broadway: Public Theater, MTC, NYTW, IRT. Regional: La Jolla Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse, Dallas Theater Center, Portland Center Stage, Seattle Rep, Florida Stage, Williamstown. Extensive credits in Europe and Japan. Architectural Design: New World Stages NYC. Awards: Lumen Award, Drammy Award, Theatregoers’ Choice Award, Carbonell Award, LA Ovation Award, Green Room Award.

LEZ BROTHERSTON (Costume Design) is an associate artist of Matthew Bourne’s company New Adventures, for which he designed Swan Lake (Tony Award, two Drama Desk Awards, Outer Critics Circle Award), The Red ShoesSleeping BeautyEdward ScissorhandsLord of the FliesA Play Without Words (Olivier nomination, best set), Dorian GrayCinderella, and more. He also designed, cowrote, and codirected Les Liaisons Dangereuses with Adam Cooper (Japan, Sadler’s Wells). Additional credits include numerous productions in the West End as well as the Royal Shakespeare Company, Chichester Festival Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, Sheffield Crucible, Stratford East, Hampstead Theatre, National Theatre, Glyndebourne, and others.


CHARLIE MORRISON (Lighting Design). Paper Mill: Cinderella, Beauty and the BeastAnnieMary PoppinsWest Side StoryElfGreaseThe Little MermaidCurtainsSmokey Joe’s CafeThe Full MontyMeet Me in St. Louis, and Hello, Dolly!. National/International Tours: The Little MermaidHow the Grinch Stole ChristmasThe ProducersHello, Dolly!Chitty Chitty Bang BangMiss SaigonAidaMan of La ManchaGuys and DollsGroovalooMy Fair LadyThe King and I42nd StreetThe Who’s Tommy; and many others. Regional: Shakespeare Theatre Company (DC), Guthrie, Goodspeed, Seattle Rep, Dallas Summer Musicals, TUTS, 5th Avenue, Kansas City Starlight, Pittsburgh CLO, George Street Playhouse, PlayMakers Rep, Tulsa Opera, and more. Two Helen Hayes Awards (seven nominations).

MATT KRAUS (Sound Design). Broadway: Liza’s at the Palace…Kristin Chenoweth: My Love Letter to BroadwayKathy Griffin Wants a Tony. Off Broadway: Caucasian Chalk Circle50 Shades! The Musical ParodyForbidden BroadwayVoca People. Audio coordinator for remote shoots at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Regional: Paper Mill Playhouse (Cinderella, Chasing RainbowsBeauty and the BeastHoliday InnLend Me a TenorNewsies), St. Louis Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Walnut Street, and more. Matt has also played the Hollywood Bowl, Hampton Court Palace, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House, Monte Carlo Sporting Club, and Vienna State Opera House. He won an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Broadway Hits at Royal Albert Hall.

LEON DOBKOWSKI (Costume Coordination & Additional Design). Paper Mill Playhouse: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and SpikeMary PoppinsAnnieBeauty and the Beast. Past productions with The Muny (St. Louis Theater Circle Awards for Seussical and The Wiz), Weston Playhouse, Theatre Under the Stars, George Street Playhouse, Irish Repertory Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, Music Theater Wichita, Engeman Theater, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Feld Entertainment’s Disney Live!, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Epic Theatre Ensemble, NYMF (Outstanding Costume Design, Claudio Quest), Cape May Stage, TheatreWorks Hartford (CT Critics Choice Award nomination, The Legend of Georgia McBride). MFA, Yale School of Drama.

KAITLYN ADAMS (Hair & Wig Design) is thrilled and honored to be back at Paper Mill for her design debut! Previous PMP credits (as associate hair and makeup designer) include Beauty and the BeastAnnieMary PoppinsEver AfterMillion Dollar QuartetA Christmas StoryVanya and Sonya…, and Elf. Other recent design credits: Blues for an Alabama Sky (Keen Theatre Co.). Starter Pistol (Delaware Rep), Certain Woman of an Age (Audible Theatre), Cinderella (MUNY), Paint Your Wagon (MUNY). Broadway (associate designer): Escape to MargaritavilleThe Great CometTime and the ConwaysSweatThe Heidi Chronicles. CCM alum.

BINDER CASTING (Casting) was founded by Jay Binder, CSA in 1984. The office has cast over 80 Broadway productions, dozens of national tours and Off-Broadway shows, seasons for more than 25 regional theaters, as well as feature films, episodic television, and commercials. The office has also cast for Encores! at New York City Center since its inception in 1994. The office was featured prominently in the Broadway documentary Every Little Step. Binder Casting is a proud 12-time recipient of the Artios Award for Excellence in Casting. Part of RWS Entertainment Group.


Paper Mill Playhouse, a leader in accessibility, will offer audio-described performances for Sister Act on Saturday, April 25,  at 1:30pm and Sunday, April 26, at 1:30pm. Prior to these performances at noon, the theater will offer free sensory seminars. Sensory seminars offer an opportunity for patrons with vision loss to hear a live, in-depth description of the production elements of the show and hands-on interaction with key sets, props, and costumes.  There will be a sign-interpreted and open-captioned performance on Sunday, April 26, at 7:00pm.


CONVERSATION CLUB: Join us Thursday evenings, April 2, 9, 16, and 23, one hour before curtain for an informal, informative gathering. You'll learn more about the performance you're about to see.

THE DIRECTOR'S VIEWPOINT: One hour before curtain on Wednesday, April 1, a pre-show discussion with the show’s production director in the Renee Foosaner Art Gallery.

Q&A WITH THE CAST: After the matinee on Saturday, April 25, stick around for a lively Q&A with cast members directly following the performance.

Paper Mill Playhouse Education & Outreach are proudly sponsored by The Goren Family & the Harmony Helper App.


PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization under the direction of Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director) and Michael Stotts (Managing Director), recipient of the 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, a partner agency of the National Endowment for 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.  

originally published: 03/05/2020

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