MILLBURN, NJ – Michael Hirsch, who resides in Livingston, NJ, is an avid theatergoer and fan of the Paper Mill Playhouse. So much so, he’s been a season ticket holder for several years, attending many of the shows with his long time girlfriend, Jaclyn Silverstein of Staten Island, NY.
When Michael asked Jaclyn to accompany him to a Saturday afternoon matinee, she gladly accepted, as usual, thinking she would be spending just another afternoon with her boyfriend. She had no idea, at the time, that agreeing to this particular date could change her life.
He came up with the idea of proposing at the playhouse but wasn’t sure if something like that was even possible. After all, this was very special request he would make of the prominent regional theater in Millburn, NJ. He reached out to Paper Mill in hopes that something could be worked out.
“We get lots of personal requests each year [for marriage proposals on-stage] and unfortunately we cannot accommodate most of them,” said Shayne Miller, Director of Public Relations, Paper Mill Playhouse. “ We wish we could but the nature of the shows we produce makes it very difficult accommodate many of those requests.”
However, Michael was in luck. Pump Boys and Dinettes has a small cast and the musical itself has several audience participation components throughout the show. Unlike more traditional musicals, the audience is encouraged to clap along, responded to queries from the actors and is quite interactive.
At the opening of the second act, there is a raffle. Contained in a hat are the ticket stubs of every audience member at the show and one lucky person could win a brand new, Pump Boys and Dinettes approved, car air freshener (you’ll understand when you see the show).
Miller and the Paper Mill agreed to let Michael propose and a date was set. In fact, Miller and the Paper Mill management played a big part in helping Michael plan his proposal. The set up would be that the actor picking the ticket stub would “accidentally” pull two stubs, and then ask the audience if he could give two fresheners away. Of course, Michael and Jaclyn’s seat numbers would be called. Even Assistant House Manager Lindsay Ricketts and the ushers were in on the scheme.
With the good news in hand, Michael spent the next two months planning for the big day and even brought two close friends into scheme. By Saturday afternoon and unbeknownst to Jaclyn, all the behind-the-scenes planning was done and the stage, literally, was set.
“I had no idea [what he was up to]. I was so surprised!” Jaclyn told TAPinto.net during an interview when asked if she had any clue Michael was going to propose on stage that day.
Actor James Barry, who plays one of the Pump Boys (Jim), masterfully executed the scheme just as the second act began. However, Jaclyn told TAPinto.net off camera that she thought it was too coincidental that both her and Michael’s seat numbers were picked. The theater has 1,200 seats.
“I thought it was strange, at first. Then I realized something was going on but didn’t know exactly what,” she said. “Plus I noticed cameramen and media in the front rows, I’ve never seen that here [at Paper Mill].”
“It would have been the most embarrassing moment of my life [if she said ‘no’],” said Michael Hirsch.
Thankfully for Michael, Jaclyn said, “YES!”
(To view photos in 4X, click images)
Pump Boys and Dinettes is currently playing at The Paper Mill Playhouse through May 1. For more information and performance dates, please visit PaperMill.org.