WEST ORANGE, NJ — In early March, West Orange High School sophomores Riley Hahn and Madison Gough and Edison Middle School sixth-grader Kyan Bashkoff were three of 68 students from across New Jersey and as far away as California, Colorado and Tennessee who received their acceptances to the Paper Mill Playhouse Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory program.

In mid-March, COVID swept the globe shutting down schools, businesses, and the hopes of any in-person opportunity for these aspiring performers.

Paper Mill Playhouse quickly transitioned the Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory to an online platform enabling Riley, Madison, Kyan and the rest of the students to embark on a rigorous six-week program of online courses designed to enhance performance skills while instilling the technique, discipline and professionalism needed to excel in the performing arts.

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For Riley, Madison and Kyan, participating in the conservatory puts them on the same stage as notable alumni, including Academy Award & Golden Globe winner Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married, Les Misérables), Tony Award winners Laura Benanti (Gypsy) and Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon), Tony nominee Rob McClure (Chaplin) and many more.

 This unprecedented summer experience culminates in the world premiere of the musical film montage, NEW VOICES 2020: PURE IMAGINATION on Tuesday, Sept.22 at 7 p.m on the Paper Mill Playhouse Facebook and YouTube channels.