New Jersey Stage published its 25,000th story in December 2021. As the site approached the milestone, we posed the question on social media as how we should celebrate. One response was to highlight our favorite stories from over the years. We liked this idea, but could not narrow things down to just 25 favorites so we will present a favorite each day from different genres. Every Tuesday we feature one of our favorite stories in theatre. This week's choice is our story on Paper Mill Playhouse Winning the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award.
The story was published on May 19, 2016 and is available here. Paper Mill Playhouse became the third theatre company in New Jersey to win the award, which began being presented on an annual basis in 1976. McCarter Theatre in Princeton became the first in New Jersey to receive the honor in 1994. Five years later, Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick joined them.
In the article we talk with Paper Mill Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Mark S. Hoebee and Managing Director Todd Schmidt, along with others in the theatre community about the honor. The Millburn theatre had been on a rather magical run with productions like Honeymoon in Vegas, Les Misérables, Disney’s Newsies, and The Bandstand launching national tours and going on to Broadway, so the recognition was well deserved.
“Receiving the Regional Theatre Tony Award is the greatest honor any regional theatre could imagine,” said Paper Mill Playhouse Producing Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee. “The most incredible part of this is that the award is bestowed upon you for the work you are doing. You don’t compete for it, you can’t petition for it, it is borne out of a conversation among our colleagues in New York, colleagues whom we admire and emulate. To be recognized by those you hold in such high esteem is beyond words.”
“We have dreamed that one day we might be honored in this way, but it is certainly not something we ever expected,” continued Hoebee. “We value this so much because this award validates not only the work we are doing on the mainstage and the shows that are finding a life after they premiere at Paper Mill, but also the incredible work that we are doing with arts education, access and outreach. Paper Mill was the first theatre in the country to have an autism-friendly performance and we are dedicated to access for patrons and students of all abilities. We call this ‘Theatre for Everyone’ and it is key to our deep sense of inclusion in all parts of our organization. The staff and crew at Paper Mill work tirelessly and with passion for a theatre that they truly love but to have this work recognized by the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League leaves us all speechless.”