MILLBURN, NJ - The curtain officially went up for Annie, the world’s best-loved family musical, at the Paper Mill Playhouse just in time for the holidays. Following performances earlier in the week, the opening night performance kicked off on Sunday evening at 7:00 pm and the show will run through December 31. The cast is full of theatrical heavyweights, including a Tony Award winner and a Tony nominee, along with newcomers to the Paper Mill stage.  

Little Orphan Annie is taken from her orphanage, and the clutches of cruel Miss Hannigan, to stay at billionaire Oliver Warbucks' mansion for the holidays. When Annie wins the hearts of Warbucks and his staff, they set out on an epic mission to find Annie’s parents.  Winner of the Best Musical Tony Award, Annie includes such unforgettable songs as “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “A New Deal for Christmas,” plus the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”

The principal cast will feature Paper Mill Playhouse favorite Tony Award winner Beth Leavel as the irascible Miss Hannigan and Tony Award nominee Christopher Sieber as Oliver Warbucks, Erin Mackey as Grace Farrell, Cooper Grodin as Rooster Hannigan, Kim Sava as Lily St. Regis, Kevin Pariseau as Franklin D. Roosevelt, and alternating in the role of Annie are Peyton Ella and Cassidy Pry.  

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The Annie orphans will include Gabby Beredo as Pepper, Tessa Noelle Frascogna as Molly, Michelle Henderson as Duffy, Eve Johnson as Tessie,Lauren Sun as July, and Sloane Wolfe as Kate.  

Rounding out the cast are Damien Brett, Shavey Brown, AnnEliza Canning-Skinner, Lynn Masako Cheng, Stacia Fernandez, Michael Coale Grey, Ruby Griffin, David Hess, Stacey Todd Holt, Joshua Israel, Allen Kendall, Kate Marilley, Bronwyn Tarboton, and Amy Van Norstrand.

Annie will be performed eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday. The performance schedule is Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., Thursday at 1:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m., Friday at 7:00 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. Visitwww.PaperMill.org for special holiday schedules.

The production team includes original set design by Beowulf Boritt, scenic coordination by Jared Rutherford, original costume design by Susan Benzinger, costume design for Paper Mill Playhouse by Leon Dobkowski, lighting design by Charlie Morrison, sound design by Randy Hansen, hair, wig and makeup design by Leah J. Loukas, and animals by William Berloni.  The production stage manager is Victoria Navarro. Casting is by Telsey + Company, Rebecca Scholl, CSA.

Paper Mill Playhouse will offer a special autism-friendly performance of Annie on Wednesday, December 27, at 1:30pm. This performance is designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum and or with other developmental disabilities and their families, and is planned in cooperation with Paper Mill Playhouse’s Autism Advisory Team. The theater environment will be altered for this performance, providing a sensory-friendly, comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming to all families. The performance itself will be adjusted with special attention paid to lighting and sound.  Major funding for autism-friendly programs is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by C.R. Bard Foundation, The Karma Foundation, MetLife Foundation, Nordstrom, PSEG Foundation, and Summit Area Public Foundation. For more information on Paper Mill Playhouse’s programs for people with autism and other developmental disabilities visit www.PaperMill.org/autism.

Beth Leavel (Miss Hannigan) received Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards for her performance as the title character in The Drowsy Chaperone. Broadway credits also include Mrs. Adams in Bandstand (also at Paper Mill Playhouse), Florence Greenberg in Baby It’s You (Tony, Drama Desk, OCC nominations), ElfMamma Mia!Young Frankenstein42nd Street (revival), Crazy for YouThe Civil WarShow Boat, and Anytime Annie (her debut) in 42nd Street. Last year she starred in the world premiere of The Prom at Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. Numerous Off Broadway and regional theater productions (including Boeing-Boeing at Paper Mill), commercials, and television appearances.

Christopher Sieber (Oliver Warbucks) Broadway: Matilda, Pippin, La Cage aux Folles, Shrek (Tony nomination), Spamalot (Tony nomination),Thoroughly Modern Millie, Into the Woods, Chicago, Beauty and the Beast, Triumph of Love, A Christmas Carol. Coming soon: The Prom. Off Bway: The Kid, The Boys in the Band. TV: Two of a Kind, It’s All Relative, Ed, Law & Order: SVU, Elementary, The Good Wife, lots of daytime TV with recurring characters. Paper Mill: Paper Moon, South Pacific, Peter Pan, and Hairspray!

Erin Mackey (Grace Farrell) is happy to return to Paper Mill Playhouse, after previously playing Nellie in South Pacific. Broadway: In TransitAmazing GraceChaplinAnything GoesSondheim on SondheimWicked (Los Angeles and Chicago companies as well). Off Broadway/Regional: Sweeney Todd(Lincoln Center/NY Philharmonic, also aired on PBS), South Pacific and Sunday in the Park with George (Guthrie), Lady, Be Good! (Encores), The Light in the Piazza (South Coast Repertory), Phantom (PCLO). Film/TV: The InternBlue BloodsGossip GirlThe Parent Trap.

Cooper Grodin (Rooster Hannigan) is thrilled to return to Paper Mill, where he was seen opening the new production of Les Misérables! Credits: title role in the new national tour of The Phantom of the Opera, title role in the first Asian tour of ZorroInto the Woods at Shakespeare in the Park, Evita at Vancouver Opera, Atlantic Theater Company’s reading of The Band’s Visit directed by Hal Prince, Drama Desk–nominated revival of The Golden Land. Cooper will be seen in the upcoming ABC series Deception. Original pop album It’s the Little Things available on iTunes.

Kim Sava (Lily St. Regis) is thrilled to be making her Paper Mill debut! She just stepped off the first national tour of Matilda, where she had the honor of playing the Acrobat, understudying Mrs. Wormwood and Miss Honey. Credits: Mrs. Wormwood in Matilda (Toronto); Barry Manilow’s Harmony (Alliance, Ahmanson); Guys and Dolls, Pegeen in Mame (Goodspeed); Cutman (Goodspeed reading), Fiddler on the RoofRocky Horror (Pioneer); Ariel in Footloose(Fireside); Rizzo in Grease (Tuacahn); Man of La Mancha (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ);Annie (Fulton); A Christmas Carol (NSMT); The ProducersJesus Christ SuperstarLes Misérables (MSMT); All Shook Up (Carousel).

Kevin Pariseau (Franklin D. Roosevelt) is delighted to be back at Paper Mill, having performed here as Charles Thomson in 1776 and as Roger DeBris in The Producers last season. Broadway/Off Broadway: Legally Blonde (ACCA Award); Show Boat (NY Philharmonic); The Explorers ClubI Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Regional: Chicago (Riverside), Beatsville (Asolo Rep), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Engeman Theatre), It’s a Wonderful Life (Bucks County Playhouse), Nerds (Philadelphia Theatre Company). Film/Television: Boardwalk EmpireTower HeistMorning Glory. Audiobooks: Over 120 recordings including The Winds of War (Audie nomination), War and Remembrance, and The Kama Sutra.

Peyton Ella (Annie) is thrilled to reprise role of Annie after Westchester Broadway Theater! Credits: NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! (Gretl), Grey Gardens (Ahmanson), NY Philharmonic’s Show Boat (also on PBS), The Late Show with Stephen ColbertGypsy (Netflix), Whistle Down the Wind (54 Below), School of Rock: Youth Production (Summer), A Little Princess (KOTA).

Cassidy Pry (Annie) is from New Jersey and is extremely grateful to be performing at Paper Mill in her dream role! Favorite shows include Seussical Jr.(Gertrude McFuzz); workshops inspired by Into the Woods (Witch), Matilda (Matilda), and Little Shop of Horrors (Urchin); the Broadway Workshop Revue; and the Shawnee Playhouse kids’ cabarets. Member of the 2016 and 2017 NJ All State Elementary Honors Choirs and selected for the 2018 All East Elementary Honor Choir.

Mark S. Hoebee (Director) joined the artistic team at Paper Mill Playhouse in 2000. Under his leadership, Paper Mill was presented with the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award; launched the American premiere of the 25th Anniversary Production of Les Misérables in 2010, working alongside Cameron Mackintosh; and was home to the world premieres of Newsies in 2011, in partnership with Disney Theatrical Productions, Honeymoon in Vegas in 2013,Ever After and Bandstand in 2015, and A Bronx Tale in 2016. Paper Mill also hosted the American premieres of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Bodyguard starring Deborah Cox, launching the national tour. On Broadway, Mark directed the Actors Fund benefit ofThe Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starring Jennifer Hudson. He has directed national tours of Victor/Victoria starring Toni Tennille, Dreamgirls, Company, and An Evening of Lerner and Loewe starring Diahann Carroll. His directing credits at Paper Mill include West Side Story; Mary Poppins; Dreamgirls; Hello, Dolly! starring Tovah Feldshuh; Harold and Maude: The Musical with Estelle Parsons; The Will Rogers Follies starring John Davidson;Meet Me in St. Louis; The King and I; Miss Saigon; Disney’s High School Musical; Peter Pan; Smokey Joe’s Cafe; Oliver!; Damn Yankees; Thoroughly Modern Millie; Curtains; and The Full Monty starring Broadway legend Elaine Stritch. He resides in Glen Ridge with his partner Larry Elardo, Coordinating Producer for the CBS Evening News, and their children, Stephen and Ashley.

JoAnn M. Hunter (Choreograper) is back at Paper Mill Playhouse after previously choreographing CurtainsPump Boys and DinettesOliver! and Grease. Ms. Hunter choreographed the world premiere of The Nutty Professor directed by Jerry Lewis (Broadway World Award, Best Choreography). On Broadway, Ms. Hunter choreographed School of Rock, Disaster! and On A Clear Day You Can See Forever and she performed in Thoroughly Modern Millie,Kiss Me, KateChicago and more.

Jeffery Saver (Music Director) composed the musicals Dodsworth and Time After Time with collaborator Stephen Cole. He has written and arranged special material for Chita Rivera, Christine Baranski, Rosie O’Donnell, Dorothy Loudon, Joel Grey, Bebe Neuwirth, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and others. As a music director and pianist, his Broadway credits include Allegiance (starring Lea Salonga and George Takei), End of the Rainbow (Broadway and LA productions), Sister Act, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, The Secret Garden, The Rink, and A Chorus Line

Beowulf Boritt (Original Scenic Design). Paper Mill: The HoneymoonersA Bronx Tale. Broadway: Act One (Tony Award), The Scottsboro Boys (Tony nomination), Thérèse Raquin (Tony nomination), Meteor ShowerPrince of BroadwaySunday in the Park with George (2017), Come from AwayA Bronx TaleHand to GodOn the TownSondheim on Sondheim…Spelling BeeLovemusikRock of AgesChaplinBronx BombersGraceThe Two and Only. Off Broadway: 100 shows including The Last Five YearsThe Toxic Avenger, and Miss Julie. Work ranges from NYC Ballet to the Ringling Bros. Circus and internationally in England, Russia, China, Australia, and Japan. He received the 2007 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Set Design.

Suzy Benzinger (Original Costume Design). Broadway: Movin’ OutMiss SaigonSaturday Night FeverAin’t Broadway Grand. Film: Woody Allen’s Blue JasmineCafé SocietyDeconstructing Harry, and CelebrityClub ParadiseWhatever Works. Off Broadway and Regional: In the Secret SeaUncle VanyaThe SeagullCarmenDear WorldGypsyThe Boys in the Band, world premieres of Jones and Schmidt’s Mirette and Lori McKelvey’s Camila. Ms. Benzinger is the recipient of the Irene Sharaff Young Master Award.

Charlie Morrison (Lighting Design) Paper Mill: Mary PoppinsWest Side Story, ElfGreaseThe Little MermaidCurtainsSmokey Joe’s CafeThe Full MontyMeet Me in St. LouisHello, Dolly! National and international tours: The Little MermaidThe ProducersHello, Dolly!Chitty Chitty Bang BangMiss SaigonAidaHow the Grinch Stole ChristmasMan of La ManchaGuys and DollsGroovalooMy Fair LadyThe King and I42nd StreetThe Who’s Tommy; and many others. Regional: Shakespeare Theatre Company (DC), Guthrie, Goodspeed, Seattle Rep, Dallas Summer Musicals, TUTS, 5th Avenue, Kansas City Starlight, Pittsburgh CLO, George Street Playhouse, PlayMakers Rep, Tulsa Opera, and more. Winner of two Helen Hayes Awards (seven nominations).

Randy Hansen (Sound Design). Over a wonderful career, Randy has designed sound for more than 130 musicals and 40 plays. Many memorable moments include working with the opera star Jessye Norman, the Indianapolis and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Having recently opened a national tour of The Little Mermaid that is touring throughout 2017, Randy is thrilled to be back at Paper Mill for Annie. In New York City he was the president of Audible Difference, Inc., a sound design company that over the past 30 years has served the fashion industry in New York and Paris.

Jared Rutherford (Scenic Coordination). Paper Mill Playhouse: A Bronx Tale (associate). Broadway: A Bronx Tale (associate), Hand to God (assistant). West End: Young Frankenstein. International (Associate): The Secret (China), Chaplin: The Musical (Russia). Other US associate credits include Little Dancer at the Kennedy Center, Bent at Mark Taper Forum, The Laramie Project at Ford’s Theatre, and national tours of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatAnnie, and 42nd Street. Television (Art Director): The President Show (Comedy Central), America’s Best Cook (Food Network), The Wendy Williams ShowLate Night with Seth Meyers (swing art director, NBC).

Leah J. Loukas (Hair, Wig and Makeup Design) Paper Mill Playhouse: The Sound of Music, The Little Mermaid, Oliver!, South Pacific, Grease, Elf, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Ever After, A Christmas Story, Million Dollar Quartet, Mary Poppins. Broadway: Marvin’s Room; Sweat; Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812; Oh, Hello; The Heidi Chronicles; On the Town; A Night with Janis Joplin; Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; American Idiot; Irena’s Vow. Regional and Off Broadway theaters include the Muny, Dallas Theater Center, and La Jolla Playhouse. Public Theater (NYC): Julius Caesar, Sweat, Plenty, Barbecue, Fortress of Solitude, The Taming of the Shrew, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Into the Woods.

Leon Dobkowski (Costume Design for Paper Mill Playhouse). For Paper Mill: Mary PoppinsA Christmas StoryVanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Other design credits include The Wizard of OzMamma Mia!, Newsies, Seussical (St. Louis Theater Circle Award), and Tarzan (Judy Award), all at the Muny; South Pacific (Asolo Repertory); The Weir and The Dead, 1904 starring Kate Burton and Boyd Gaines (Irish Rep); The Little MermaidLegally Blonde (Music Theatre Wichita); The Wiz (Maltz Jupiter); Mickey & Minnie’s Doorway to Magic (Disney Live); George M! (Westchester Broadway); Romeo and Juliet (Yale Rep); Peter and the Starcatcher, Once (Weston Playhouse); and Claudio Quest (NYMF, Outstanding Overall Design). MFA, Yale School of Drama.

William Berloni (Animal Director and Trainer). 2011 Tony Honor, 2017 Drama League Unique Contribution to the Theater Award, 2014 Outer Critics Circle Special Achievement Award. Select Broadway: The CrucibleThe AudienceBullets Over BroadwayLady Day…Annie (original and all revivals), A Christmas StoryThe WizThe Wizard of Oz. Hundreds of Off Broadway and regional productions, tours, television (From Wags to Riches with Bill Berloni,Sesame Street, Peter Pan Live!The Wiz Live!), and film (Paterson, It Comes at Night). Author of Broadway TailsDoga: Yoga for Dogs, and Sandy: The Autobiography of a Star; director of animal behavior at the Humane Society of New York. Follow on Facebook, Twitter (@BillBerloni), andwww.theatricalanimals.com.

Victoria Navarro (Production Stage Manager). Broadway: The Lion KingThe Color Purple. National tours include MatildaAnnieOliver!, and Seussical. Opera: Santa Fe Opera, Virginia Opera.

Telsey + Company (Casting). Broadway/Tours: SpongeBob SquarePantsOnce on This IslandThe Parisian WomanM. ButterflyAnastasiaCharlie and the Chocolate FactoryHello, Dolly!Come from AwayWaitressHamiltonKinky BootsWickedOn Your Feet!Something Rotten!The King and IAn American in Paris. Off Broadway: Sweeney Todd, Atlantic, Classic Stage, MCC, Second Stage. Regional: Alley, Deaf West, Goodman, Hartford Stage, La Jolla, McCarter, New York Stage and Film, Pasadena Playhouse, Wallis Annenberg Center, Williamstown. Film: Miss SloaneInto the WoodsMargin Call,Rachel Getting MarriedAcross the UniverseCampPieces of April. TV: This Is UsNCIS: New OrleansHouse of CardsRiseI’m Dying Up HereOne Day at a TimeGravesAtypical, commercials. www.telseyandco.com

Paper Mill Playhouse, a leader in accessibility, will offer audio-described performances for Annie on Saturday, December 16, 2017, at 1:30pm and Sunday, December 17, 2017, at 1:30pm. Prior to these performances at noon, the theater will offer free sensory seminars. Sensory seminars offer an opportunity for patrons with vision loss to hear a live, in-depth description of the production elements of the show and hands-on interaction with key sets, props, and costumes.  There will be a sign-interpreted and open-captioned performance on Sunday, December 17, 2017, at 7:00pm.

Free Audience Enrichment Activities for ANNIE

Conversation Club: Join us Thursday evenings, November 30, December 7, 14, or 21, one hour before curtain for an informal, informative gathering. You'll learn more about the performance you're about to see.

The Director's Viewpoint: One hour before curtain at 6:00pm on Wednesday, November 22, we host a pre-show discussion in the Renee Foosaner Art Gallery.

Q&A with the Cast: After the matinee on Saturday, December 16, stick around for a lively Q&A with cast members directly following the performance.