SHORT HILLS, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse hosted its largest fundraising event of the year, the “Curtain Up on the 76th Season Gala” on Friday at the Hilton Short Hills.
“This is the perfect moment for us to celebrate all the success we’ve had this year and to look forward to the excitement of the new season,” said Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director.
Nearly 400 supporters of the Paper Mill Playhouse gathered in the ballroom of the Hilton to enjoy an evening of dancing, dinner and performances. The theater also made special presentations to the evenings honorees: Tony Danza, the star of the Paper Mill’s acclaimed production of Honeymoon in Vegas; Linda Bowden, NJ Regional President with PNC Bank; and former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
The evening featured a show-stopping performance by students from Paper Mill Playhouse’s Arts Education programs. For more than 25 years, Paper Mill Playhouse has been helping students of all ages and skill levels develop their performance skills, and the performance was a great reminder of the importance of those programs.
“The gala is one of my favorite events of the year,” said Todd Schmidt, Managing Director. “The kids are one of the most moving parts of the show for me. We have some wonderful young performers here tonight. I am also pleased to be honoring Linda Bowden from PNC Bank, a big supporter of Paper Mill Playhouse, and of course, Tony Danza.”
Bowden received the Byrne/Kean Arts Advocate Award for her work on behalf of New Jersey’s arts community.
Danza was presented the Frank Carrington Excellence in the Arts Award. Named after Paper Mill Playhouse’s co-founder and first Executive Producer, this award is given to “an artist who has been a member of the Paper Mill family and also accomplished great things in the entertainment industry.”