MILLBURN, NJ  — Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Producing Artistic Director, Michael Stotts- Managing Director), recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award, recently announced an expansion of the theater’s award-winning Theater School with the lease of a storefront building in Downtown Millburn. The new space, totaling 2,500 square feet, is located at 20 Main Street.

This is the first property extension of the theater since 1996 and the first expansion of the theater’s footprint into Downtown Millburn. This expansion is a result of a board-approved strategic plan to move Paper Mill Playhouse forward, re-imagining the Millburn theater as the center for musical theater in America.

The official ribbon cutting for the new space will take place on Wednesday, March 4 at 9 a.m. on site.The community is welcome to visit the new studios on Saturday, March 14 for an open house event, featuring free classes for students ages 6 to 15.

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Free class spots during the open house must be reserved in advance and are first come, first served with an online registration at https://tinyurl.com/PMPStudios. The theater’s spring session of classes kick off the week of April 20 with classes for all of life’s stages.

For more information on upcoming Paper Mill Theater School offerings, visit www.PaperMill.org/Education.

Paper Mill Playhouse will host two "Master Classes" to celebrate the studio opening and the 25th Anniversary of the Rising Star Awards. Two former Rising Star winners will return to Millburn to share their expertise with students. 

On Monday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m., Broadway performer Jelani Remy (Broadway’s Ain’t Too Proud, The Lion King, Smokey Joe’s Café) will present a dance workshop for ages 11 to 15.

 On Monday, April 6 at 6:30 p.m., Broadway performer Natalie Weiss (EmojilandAmerican Idol, You Tube’s Breaking Down the Riffs, Broadway’s Everyday Rapture) will present her ‘Breaking Down the Riffs’ vocal Master Class. 

For Master Class times, prices and to register, contact classes@papermill.org. Space is limited.

“We are thrilled to expand our theater’s footprint into Downtown Millburn,” said Paper Mill Playhouse Managing Director Michael Stotts. “This expansion allows us to serve the community by increasing Paper Mill Playhouse’s capacity to inspire more students through our arts education programs.

"This additional space is a wonderful opportunity to further integrate Paper Mill with our business partners in Downtown. It literally bridges the gap between our theater and downtown. This is the beginning of a long-term vision to realize a ‘cultural corridor’ that extends from the Turtle Back Zoo through the South Mountain Reservation to Taylor Park in Millburn.”

In June 2019, Paper Mill Playhouse engaged Posen Architects, LLC for the architectural design of the interior. In December 2019, Haas Construction Management, LLC began work on the renovation of the interior to create a space suitable for classes.

Within the 2,500 square feet of space at 20 Main Street, Paper Mill has created two new studio classrooms, a reception area and two accessible bathrooms. The larger studio will be used for classes of 20-25 students and features a newly installed sprung floor and dance mirrors.

Classes are typically held on weekdays from approximately 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., and weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The smaller classroom will be used for private voice lessons and college prep offerings.

“Paper Mill Playhouse is thrilled that we have moved beyond stabilization into a new growth phase,” said Hoebee. “Central to Paper Mill's mission is our dedication to educating students, so it is only fitting that our first expansion into Millburn be through our education department.

"These programs will provide educational opportunities for a diverse range of participants, with Paper Mill's trademark commitment to both accessibility and excellence. This expansion would not be possible without the generous support of our inaugural education and outreach sponsor, The Harmony Helper App.”

The Paper Mill Playhouse Board of Trustees adopted a new strategic plan “Paper Mill Forward,” created by managing director Michael Stotts and a strategic planning committee led by Andrew Gottesman on Nov. 19, 2019, which outlines a roadmap for the theater through 2023.

The vision of Paper Mill Playhouse is to be internationally recognized as the leading musical theater where new and reimagined musicals and innovative education programs are cultivated and produced. Paper Mill Playhouse is the place where artists, theater lovers and students come together to realize their creativity and to be inspired by the theater’s unmatched passion and commitment to excellence.

According to the theater’s strategic plan, the vision is guided by several goals that include making investments in quality art, artistic programming, theater employees and technology. The theater will work to build a vibrant audience, volunteer, and student/parent base that reflects the broad demographics of the region that will help sustain Paper Mill Playhouse and increase the theater’s capacity for continued growth.

The plan calls for an expansion of Paper Mill’s value to the region, particularly Millburn and the surrounding towns with an effort to strengthen and promote the transformational work happening in the theater’s education, access, and outreach programs.

The opening of Paper Mill Studios is one of many steps to realize this vision.

Paper Mill Playhouse is New Jersey’s largest producing theater and its community extends to all 21 counties and the New York metropolitan area. As the nation’s premier musical theater, the theater fosters a creative environment to advance the art form, educate students, develop future theater lovers, nurture inclusion, and provide access for all.

Paper Mill Playhouse inspires more than 220,000 patrons and students each season. As a not-for-profit theater, Paper Mill thrives because of donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and government grants. Paper Mill Playhouse a cultural hub for the community with over $20 million of economic impact each year.

“We are thrilled to see our beloved Paper Mill increase their footprint into downtown Millburn,” stated Jackie Lieberberg, Mayor of Millburn/Short Hills. “The addition of Paper Mill Studios to our downtown will contribute a special vibrancy to the area and provide an increased economic benefit to our community. 

"We look forward to seeing parents, caretakers and students patronizing our retail shops and dining establishments—before, during or after class. We are so excited to have them here."

Alex McDonald, Millburn Township Administrator, added that Paper Mill Playhouse is the economic engine for Millburn's downtown district and brings "hundreds of thousands of people into town," has made Millburn a destination and is "part of the fabric of this community.”

Paper Mill champions nearly 40,000 students each year with transformative education programs, which are at the heart of this not-for-profit organization. Paper Mill takes keen responsibility to ensure children have access to theater’s life-changing opportunities, regardless of economic, physical, or developmental challenges.

Paper Mill responds with high-quality arts education, cultural partnerships, and outreach – impacting teens, aspiring artists and families of children with autism and other cognitive and developmental disabilities.

“Whether you’re an aspiring performer, are college bound, or you simply want to increase your comfort level with public speaking, there is a class for you at Paper Mill Playhouse,” said Lisa Cooney, Paper Mill Director of Education. “For nearly 40 years, Paper Mill Playhouse has been helping students of all ages and skill levels develop their passion for performance and communication—qualities that are invaluable in every career, from Broadway to the boardroom.”

Former Paper Mill students and Rising Star Award nominees and winners have gone on to take the entertainment industry by storm.

Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married, Les Misérables), Tony Award winners Laura Benanti (Gypsy), Ali Stroker (Oklahoma) and Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon), Tony nominee Rob McClure (ChaplinMrs. Doubtfire), Olivier Award nominee Jared Gertner (The Book of Mormon-West End), Jelani Remy (Disney’s The Lion King, Ain’t Too Proud), Joshua Dela Cruz (Blue’s Clues, Disney’s Aladdin), Julia Knitel  (Beautiful, the Carole King Musical); Jordan Barrow (Madame Sousatzka) and Shanice Williams star of NBC’s The Wiz LIVE! all got their start at Paper Mill Playhouse. Paper Mill Playhouse alumni appear on Broadway, in national tours, and in television and films.

Paper Mill Playhouse Education and Outreach programs are proudly sponsored by The Goren Family and The Harmony Helper App. For more information on Paper Mill Playhouse education programs or to check out Paper Mill’s Theater School offerings, visit www.PaperMill.org/education.