Long before Paper Mill Playhouse received the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the theatre was already recognized as a place where shows heading to Broadway could be found first. The 2017-2018 season continues that trend in a big way with 2 World Premieres and 2 East Coast Premieres on the schedule. While much of the buzz deals with Half Time, I’m excited to see what they do with The Honeymooners as a musical comedy.
The season contains World Premieres of The Honeymooners and The Sting (based on the classic movie). The East Coast premieres include The Outsider and Half Time. Fan favorite Annie comes to the theatre for the holidays.
The Honeymooners opens the season on September 28. As a late night tv junkie raised on WPIX 11, The classic show following the exploits of the Kramdens and the Nortons has been a favorite of insomniacs like me for generations.
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 is bound to be a hit.
“We are excited to launch Paper Mill Playhouse’s new season with the world premiere of The Honeymooners, said John Rando, the show’s Tony Award-winning director. “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 Honeymooners features Book by Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss; Music by Stephen Weiner; Lyrics by Peter Mills; and is Choreographed by Joshua Bergasse.
Based on legendary Oscar-winning film starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, The Sting arrives at Paper Mill on March 29.
Taking place in Chicago circa 1936, The Sting brings the audience into a smoke-filled world of cons and capers, where nothing is what it seems and no one is who they appear to be.
The musical 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.
“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.”
Buzz-wise, things don’t get much hotter than the buzz surrounding Half Time. 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, which opens at Paper Mill on May 31.
“I am thrilled our new musical Half Time will be a part of the very exciting 2017-2018 Paper Mill season,” stated Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell. “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.”
The Outsider makes its East Coast Premiere in January. At once a razor-sharp comedy and a sincere tribute to democracy, The Outsider by Paul Slade Smith 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.
“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,” Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director. “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.”
“Paper Mill Playhouse’s 2017-2018 season is one of the most exciting lineups in our theater’s history,” added Managing Director Todd Schmidt.
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at email@example.com.