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Paper Mill Playhouse Announces Cast and Creative for "Rent"

originally published: 04/27/2023

Paper Mill Playhouse Announces Cast and Creative for "Rent"

(MILLBURN, NJ) -- Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director; Michael Stotts, Executive Director), recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, has announced the cast and creative team for Rent by Jonathan Larson, directed by Zi Alikhan (Resident Director of Hamilton) and choreographed by Steph Paul (New York Theatre Workshop: How to Defend Yourself). The show runs June 7 through July 2, 2023.

Based loosely on Puccini's La Bohème, Jonathan Larson's Rent follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York City’s Lower East Side in the shadow of HIV/AIDS. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Rent has become a pop-cultural phenomenon with songs that rock and a story that resonates with audiences of all ages.

The production will star Jordan Barrow (PMP: Peter Pan; Broadway: Wicked) as Benjamin Coffin III, Leana Rae Concepcion (upcoming Broadway: Merrily We Roll Along; Radio City Christmas Spectacular) as Joanne Jefferson, Terrance Johnson (La Jolla Playhouse: Bhangin’ ItDreamgirls national/international tour) as Tom Collins, Olivia Lux (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”) as Angel Schunard, Mackenzie Meadows (Maltz Jupiter Theatre: A Funny Thing Happened…) as Maureen Johnson, Alisa Melendez (Broadway: Almost Famous) as Mimi Marquez, Zachary Noah Piser (Broadway: Dear Evan Hansen, Wicked, KPOP) as Mark Cohen, and Matt Rodin (Milwaukee Rep: Hedwig and the Angry Inch; upcoming film: Beau) as Roger Davis. The ensemble features Rickens Anantua, Andrew Faria, Lauryn Alexandria Hobbs, Sami Ma, Adriana Medina Santiago, Liam Pearce, Michael Schimmele, Hannah T. Skokan, and Donte? Wilder.

Rent features music direction by Amanda Morton (Broadway: KPOP), scenic design by Chika Shimizu (Pasadena Playhouse: Sanctuary City), costume design by Rodrigo Muñoz (Public Theater: Plays for the Plague Year), lighting design by Cha See (BAM/Playwrights Horizons: What to Send Up When It Goes Down), sound design by Matt Kraus (PMP: On Your Feet!), projection design by Nicholas Hussong (Broadway: Skeleton Crew) & Jamie Godwin (GableStage: A Doll's House Part 2), and fight and intimacy direction by Alex Might (Broadway: POTUS). The Production Stage Manager is Gary Mickelson (PMP: The Other Josh Cohen). Casting is by Tara Rubin Casting (PMP: Hercules).

The show will begin performances at Paper Mill Playhouse on Wednesday, June 7, and play through Sunday, July 2, 2023. Opening night is set for Sunday, June 11, 2023.

Tickets starting at $35 may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at papermill.org.  Groups of 10 or more may receive up to an up to 30% discount on tickets and should call 973.376.4343. Students may purchase $20 tickets. Patrons under 30 years old may purchase tickets for $30 to any performance.

Paper Mill Playhouse offers its audiences the opportunity to enhance their theater experience with behind-the-scenes views of mainstage productions, including a Q&A with the cast held live in the theater after the matinee on June 24. Paper Mill Prologues and The Director’s Viewpoint will be available to everyone on-demand in the Paper Mill Playhouse mobile app.

Paper Mill Playhouse offers award-winning access programs and services, including audio-described performances on Saturday, June 24, 2023, at 1:30pm and Sunday, June 25, 2023, at 1:30pm (sensory seminars for the blind are held at noon), as well as an open-captioned and ASL-interpreted performance on Sunday, June 25, 2023, at 7:00pm. Braille and large-print programs and assistive listening devices available.

Programs, dates, and artists are subject to change.

BIOGRAPHIES

Jordan Barrow (Benjamin Coffin III) is excited to return to Paper Mill! He attended the Summer Conservatory and performed in The Miracle Worker and Peter Pan. He was last seen as Boq in Wicked on Broadway. Some of his favorite credits include The Tempest (Shakespeare in the Park), Sousatzka (Elgin Theatre), Witness Uganda (The Wallis), America v. 2.1… (Barrington Stage). He has appeared on FX’s “Pose” and Comedy Central’s “Broad City” and can be seen in the feature Amy and Peter Are Getting Divorced. Education: University of Michigan.

Leana Rae Concepcion (Joanne Jefferson). Paper Mill Playhouse debut! Leana was most recently seen in Merrily We Roll Along at New York Theatre Workshop and will be in the upcoming Broadway revival. Other credits include Michele Weinberger in the NY workshop of Romy & Michele: The MusicalRattlesnake Kate (Katie), Radio City Christmas SpectacularThis Purple F***ing PotThe Eulogy Approach, and Agent 355. Proud Filipina-American. Pace Musical Theater. A3 Artists Agency and Lakey Wolff & Co.

Terrance Johnson (Tom Collins) is thrilled to make his Paper Mill debut in this dream show and role! Other performance credits include Bhangin’ It (Jake, La Jolla Playhouse), Dreamgirls (C.C. White, national/international tour), Once on This Island (Ti Moune, FIPAP), and Tick, Tick…Boom! (Michael, Triad Stage).

Olivia Lux (Angel Schunard) is a drag artist, actor, singer, and musician who starred in season 13 of the Emmy-winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (Top 5). She has toured Canada, the U.K., Netherlands, United States, and Australia and has been featured in People, Gay TimesRolling Stone AustraliaOutThem, and BuzzFeed. In 2021, Olivia joined the Iconic House of Miyake-Mugler, a ballroom house that won season 2 of the HBO Max voguing competition series Legendary; she has won numerous grand prizes in the Face category. A Jersey native, Olivia (a.k.a. Fred Carlton Bunton) studied Musical Theatre at Montclair State University (’16).

Mackenzie Meadows (Maureen Johnson) is ecstatic to make her Paper Mill Playhouse debut in her favorite musical! Mackenzie graduated with a BA in Musical Theatre from James Madison University in 2020. Recent credits include P in “Fantasmas” (HBO Max pilot), Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Maltz Jupiter Theatre), Chiffon/Audrey u/s in Little Shop of Horrors (Arts Center of Coastal Carolina), Jane in A Bronx Tale (John W. Engeman Theater), and Safia in Intermission! (Tom Kitt, Jerry Zucker, dir. Christopher Gattelli).

Alisa Melendez (Mimi Marquez) is absolutely jazzed to be making her Paper Mill debut! She was most recently seen in Almost Famous on Broadway (u/s Penny Lane, swing). Pace Musical Theater.

Zachary Noah Piser (Mark Cohen). Paper Mill debut! Zach is a Hapa, Jewish actor based in New York City. Broadway: KPOP (Brad, original cast), Dear Evan Hansen’s first AAPI Evan on Broadway and internationally, Wicked (Boq). Off-Broadway: Barrow Street Theatre’s West End transfer of Sweeney Todd (Tobias), Adventurephile (Keen Company), Mad Libs Live! (New World Stages). Additionally, he has premiered works at Williamstown (Row) and The Old Globe (The Heart ofRock & Roll). TV: PBS’s “Camp” TV series. Bay Area native, Northwestern grad.

Matt Rodin (Roger Davisis grateful to be revisiting Rent after playing Collins in his high school’s production more than 13 years ago. A few of his mother’s other favorite performances include Hedwig… (Milwaukee Rep), Mass (Kennedy Center), Hair (Weston Theater Co.), Next to Normal (Baltimore Center Stage), and the upcoming movie musical Beau. In 2020, he released Matt Rodin: Live at Home, and he continues to play shows in and around NYC.

Zi Alikhan (Director) is a queer, first-generation South Asian–American, culturally Muslim theater director. Credits: On That Day in Amsterdam (Primary Stages—Lucille Lortel nomination, outstanding director), Sanctuary City (Pasadena Playhouse—L.A. Times Best of 2022), Snow in Midsummer (Classic Stage Company), Manik Choksi’s The Ramayan (currently in development at Ars Nova), The Great Leap (Portland Center Stage), Somewhere (Geva Theatre Center), A Nice Indian Boy (Olney Theatre Center), Ragtime (PlayMakers Repertory Company). Upcoming: The Wizard of Oz (Geva) and The Band’s Visit (Writers Theatre, TheatreSquared). Zi was named one of TCG’s Rising Leaders of Color in 2021.

Steph Paul (Choreographer) is a Brooklyn-based director/choreographer who clears space for uninhibited physical truth. What comes up must come out. Her recent work includes How to Defend Yourself (NYTW, Victory Gardens, Humana Festival), Where the Mountain Meets the Sea (MTC, Humana Festival), The Royale (Kansas City Rep, City Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, American Theater Company), Becky Nurse of Salem (LCT), The Last Match (Writers Theatre). International: NYU Abu Dhabi, Royal Opera House Muscat, National Theatre of Scotland. Awards: Princess Grace Award, Helen Hayes Award. Steph is a proud NYTW Usual Suspect, Chicago Dance Crash artistic associate, and SDC member.

Amanda Morton (Music Director & Conductor) is a music director and writer. Most recently, she made her Broadway debut as associate music director and lyric dramaturg for KPOP. She is currently the music supervisor for Picnic at Hanging Rock by Greta Gertler Gold and Hillary Bell as well as a new adaptation of Anne of Green Gables by Matt Vinson and Matte O’Brien. She is also the music director for Other World by Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen, and Ann McNamee. Amanda is a proud member of Maestra, where she sits on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access committee.

Chika Shimizu (Scenic Designis a New York–based scenic designer. Regional: Pacific Overtures (Signature Theatre, DC); The Great Wave (Berkeley Rep); Sanctuary City (Pasadena Playhouse); Somewhere (Geva Theatre); The Great Leap (Portland Center Stage); VietgoneTiger Style! (TheatreSquared); The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Yale Rep—CT Critics Circle Award nomination). Off Broadway: Belfast Girls (Irish Rep), The Naturalists (The Pond Theatre Company, Soho Rep), The Winning Side (Epic Theatre Ensemble, Theatre Row), Awake (The Barrow Group), Romulus the Great (Yangtze Repertory Theatre). Installations: Another DreamUn(re)solved AR installation (Ado Ato Pictures—2022 SXSW Innovation Award, Emmy Award; currently on tour). MFA in Design from Yale School of Drama.

Rodrigo Muñoz (Costume Design) is a NY-based costume designer originally from Mexico City. Recent credits: Off-Broadway: Plays for the Plague Year (Public); Bernarda’s Daughters (The New Group); Sorry for Your Loss (Minetta Lane), Notes from Now (Prospect Theater Company), This Space Between Us (Theatre Row), Preparedness (Bushwick Starr), Volpone and The Revenger’s Tragedy (Red Bull Theater); Regional: The Bluest Eye (Huntington), Red Velvet (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Torera (Alley Theatre), Somewhere (Geva Theatre), How to Make an American Son (Arizona Theatre Company), Mushroom (People’s Light), The Fall of the House of Usher (Boston Lyric Opera), Bad Dates (Portland Stage), Jazz Singer (Abrons Arts Center). Upcoming: Cabaret (Barrington Stage Company).

Cha See (Lighting Design) is from Manila, Philippines. Off-Broadway: You Will Get Sick (Roundabout Theatre Company); The Seagull/Woodstock, NY and One in Two (The New Group); Wet Brain (Playwrights Horizons); The FeverLucy (Audible Theater), Exception to the Rule (Roundabout Underground); What to Send Up When It Goes Down (BAM, Playwrights Horizons); Soft (MCC); As You Like It (La Jolla Playhouse), among others. Upcoming: Babbitt and Is It Thursday Yet? (La Jolla Playhouse), (pray) (Ars Nova). Training: MFA from NYU Tisch.

Matt Kraus (Sound Design). Paper Mill Playhouse: On Your Feet!A Jolly HolidayCinderellaChasing RainbowsBeauty and the BeastHoliday Inn (to name a few). Broadway: Liza’s at the Palace…Kristin Chenoweth: My Love Letter to BroadwayKathy Griffin Wants a Tony. Off Broadway: Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (New Victory), Caucasian Chalk Circle50 Shades! The Musical ParodyVoca PeopleSpotlight Bar onboard Princess Cruises. Audio coordinator for remote shoots at “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and the NBA’s 2020 Bubble. Regional: St. Louis Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Walnut Street, and more. He won an Emmy Award for his work on Disney’s Broadway Hits at Royal Albert Hall.

Nicholas Hussong (Projection Design). Creative producer at Dwight Street Book Club. Broadway: Skeleton Crew (Tony nomination). Off-Broadway: Wet Brain (Playwrights Horizons); On That Day in Amsterdam (Primary Stages); Skeleton CrewThese Paper Bullets (Atlantic); Until the Flood (Rattlestick). Select regional: Cabaret (Atlanta Opera); To the Yellow House (La Jolla); Kleptocracy (Arena); Haint Blu, Hair & Other Stories (Urban Bush Women); Grounded (Alley); Arden Theatre, PlayMakers Rep, Berkshire Theatre Group. Other work includes Marc Jacobs, Complex magazine, AMC+, San Diego Shell, Nashville Symphony, Hartford Symphony, “Tony Awards” (CBS), Ask Ronna podcast. Designed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, China, Canada, and Vienna. Cocreator of FEAST, an immersive dining experience with Listen&Breathe. Adjunct lecturer, NYU Tisch.

Jamie Godwin (Projection Design) is a video designer based in New York. Recent works include Haint Blu (Urban Bush Women), Fabulation (Lenfest Center), A Doll's House Part 2 (GableStage), Christmas Mountain (Pie Hole) and Chava the Giant and the Oldest Bird (Rattlestick). Other work includes A&E Networks, Dwight Street Book Club and Big Machine Studios.

Alex Might (Fight & Intimacy Director) is an actor and movement director from central Ohio. Credits include POTUS (Broadway), How to Defend Yourself (New York Theatre Workshop), The Wolves (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Thelma and Louise and the Time Machine (Breaking the Binary Festival), Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Keen Company), Kin (WP Theater), New Golden Age (Primary Stages), No Mercy (Moxie Arts), and Elegies for AngelsPunks, and Raging Queens (King’s Head Theatre, London).

Gary Mickelson (Production Stage Managerreturns to PMP for lucky show number thirteen! Favorites here include The Other Josh CohenElf, and both shows in the “Tenor-verse.” He recently was the PSM on the world premiere of The Griswolds’ Broadway Vacation. Broadway: Come From AwayDr. ZhivagoFirst DateMemphisGypsyCompanyChita Rivera: The Dancer’s LifeA Christmas CarolThe Lion in WinterTriumph of LoveVictor/Victoria. National Tours: The ProducersHairsprayGrease!. Off-Broadway: Whorl Inside a Loop. He has captained four championship Broadway Bowling League teams and managed a Championship Broadway Show League Softball team.

Tara Rubin Casting (Casting). Paper Mill: HerculesUnmaskedChasing RainbowsThe StingBandstandA Bronx TaleThe Hunchback of Notre DameCan-CanLes Misérables 25th Anniversary Tour. Selected Broadway and Tours: Bad CinderellaDancin’KPOPMr. Saturday NightSixAin’t Too ProudKing KongThe Band’s VisitPrince of BroadwaySunset BoulevardMiss SaigonDear Evan HansenCatsFalsettosSchool of RockBullets Over BroadwayBig FishBilly ElliotShrekSpamalot…Spelling BeeThe ProducersMamma Mia!Jersey BoysLes MisérablesThe Phantom of the Opera. Selected Off Broadway: Sing StreetTrevorBetween the LinesCluelessGloria: A LifeSmokey Joe’s CafeHere Lies Love.


 

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is a nationally renowned not-for-profit theater under the direction of Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director) and Michael Stotts (Executive Director). A beloved New Jersey arts institution since 1938, Paper Mill creates and produces groundbreaking new musicals and reimagined classics. Several productions have gone on to Broadway and launched national tours, including Disney’s NewsiesLes MisérablesHoneymoon in VegasA Bronx Tale, and Bandstand. The theater is also the home to an award-winning center for musical theater education and artist training, with outreach programs that impact thousands of students each year. As one of the nation’s premier musical theaters, Paper Mill fosters a creative environment to advance the art form, educate students, develop future theater lovers, nurture inclusion, and provide access for all. We acknowledge that our theater stands on the traditional land of the Lenni-Lenape, and we honor the Indigenous people who inhabited it for thousands of years before European settlers arrived. 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.



 
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