Thursday, October 30, 2014

Paper Mill Announces Cast For 'Elf' Holiday Musical

Paper Mill Playhouse announces casting for its holiday musical, Elf.  

Based on the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, Elf has a book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin.  Elf will be directed by Eric Ankrim and choreographed by Josh Rhodes. Elf will run eight times a week at the Millburn, New Jersey, theater from November 26, 2014, through January 4, 2015. The official press opening night is Sunday, November 30, at 7:00pm. Paper Mill Playhouse's 2014-2015 Season is proudly sponsored by Investors Bank.

Based on the holiday film starring Will Ferrell, Elf is the fantastical holiday musical for the entire family! This is the hilarious and joyous tale of Buddy, an orphan who is mistakenly transported to the North Pole and raised by Santa's elves. Now, as a grownup, he embarks on a journey to discover his true identity.  It's a holiday treat for the entire family.

Elf will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday. Performance schedule: Wednesday at 7:00pm, Thursday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm, Friday at 7:00pm, Saturday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm. Check Paper Mill Playhouse’s website for special holiday week schedules. Tickets are on sale now and range from $28 to $99. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Groups of 10 or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680.  College students can order $20 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office on the day of the performance.

“There is no better way to celebrate the holidays than a trip to Paper Mill Playhouse to experience this heartwarming and hilarious musical about everyone's favorite elf, Buddy,” commented Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director for the Millburn theater. “Bring your entire family together to see the New Jersey premiere of this holiday treat.”

Elf features a cast of Broadway veterans and Paper Mill Playhouse favorites. James Moye (Buddy), a North Bergen resident, appeared in the Broadway companies of Bullets Over BroadwayMillion Dollar QuartetRagtimeA Tale of Two CitiesThe Full Monty and Urinetown. Moye’s television credits include The Onion News NetworkLaw and Order: Criminal IntentThe Today ShowJimmy Kimmel Live! and more. Kate Fahrner (Jovie), a resident of Maplewood, was seen in the Broadway and touring productions of Wicked. Fahrer was also seen in off-Broadway productions of Under My Skin and Sarah, Plain and Tall.   Paul C. Vogt (Santa) returns to Paper Mill Playhouse, where he last appeared as Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Vogt is known for his roles on MADtv and NBC’s The Rerun Show. On Broadway, Vogt was seen in Chicago and Hairspray.

Heidi Blickenstaff (Emily Hobbs) was last seen on Broadway as Alice Beineke in The Addams Family. Blickenstaff’s other Broadway credits include [title of show]The Little Mermaid and The Full MontyRobert Cuccioli(Walter Hobbs) returns to Paper Mill for his thirteenth production. On Broadway, Cuccioli was seen in Spider-Man: Turn Off the DarkLes Misérables and Jekyll & HydeJake Faragalli (Michael), a south Jersey resident,appeared off-Broadway in Julie Taymor’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and was seen in regional productions of Oliver!, Mulan, Willy Wonka, To Kill a Mockingbird and Father of the Bride.

Cleve Asbury (Mr. Greenway), a Bloomfield resident, was featured as Mr. Ovington in the recent Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Asbury was also seen on Broadway in Chita Rivera: The Dancers LifeAnnie Get Your GunJerome Robbins' BroadwayMe and My Girl and others. Jessica Sheridan (Deb) returns to Paper Mill, where she appeared in Oliver! and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Sheridan’s Broadway credits include Sister ActFolliesMary Poppins and Les MisérablesDeMone (Macy’s Manager) performed in productions of RagtimeMiss SaigonRentJesus Christ SuperstarThe Great MacDaddyBlack Nativity Now andBalls: The Musical.

Rounding out the ensemble are: Sydney Brenton (Short Hills, NJ), Stephanie Cain, Alicia Charles, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Di Liberto, Madge Dietrich, Michael Fatica, Michael Coale Grey (Union, NJ), Anna McCarthy (Madison, NJ), Gillian Munsayac, Patrick O’Neill, Heather Parcells, Jody Reynard, Chris Richards, Justin Schuman, Sam Seferian and Laura Smith.

Eric Ankrim (Director) is a Seattle-based director and actor who previously directed Elf at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, WA. Ankrim also directed the Seattle premieres of In the HeightsSpring AwakeningAvenue Q andDr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which he adapted for the stage. As an actor, Ankrim understudied Zachary Levi in Broadway's First Date, in a role he originated in Seattle. 
Josh Rhodes (Choreographer) received a 2013 Drama Desk Award nomination for best choreography for Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella. Also on Broadway, Rhodes provided the musical staging for First Date and served as the Associate Choreographer on The Drowsy Chaperone, and he choreographed Company with the New York Philharmonic starring Neil Patrick Harris and Patti LuPone for PBS.

Dominick Amendum (Music Director) has, for the past eight years, served as Associate Music Supervisor for the international megahit Wicked, having also conducted Wicked’s Broadway, Los Angeles and first national touring companies. In New York City, Amendum also worked on First DateHeathers and The Blue Flower. Amendum worked on recordings with artists such as Dolly Parton, Marvin Hamlisch, and Stephen Schwartz.

Thomas Meehan (Book) received the Tony Award for writing the book of Annie, his first Broadway show, as well as for cowriting the books for The Producers and Hairspray. He also wrote the books for the musicals Rocky,ChaplinYoung FrankensteinI Remember MamaAnnie Warbucks and more. He is a longtime contributor of humor to The New Yorker, an Emmy Award–winning writer of television comedy, and a collaborator on screenplays including Spaceballs and To Be or Not to Be.

Bob Martin (Book) has worked as an actor and writer in Canadian theater, film and television for three decades. He co-created and starred in The Drowsy Chaperone, which won him the 2006 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for best book, the Theatre World Award, and a Tony nomination for best actor. He is the co-creator of the TV show Slings & Arrows and also has written, produced, and appeared in Michael: Tuesdays & ThursdaysPuppets Who KillSensitive Skin and others.

Matthew Sklar (Music) wrote the music for The Wedding Singer, which garnered nominations for the Tony Award for best score and the Drama Desk Award for outstanding music. Sklar’s other original musicals include The Rhythm ClubJudas & Me and Wicked City. Sklar served as pianist, conductor and/or arranger for more than a dozen Broadway productions, including ShrekNine42nd StreetTitanicMiss SaigonLes Misérables and Caroline, or Change.

Chad Beguelin (Lyrics) most recently penned the book and additional lyrics for Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway, earning Tony Award nominations for best book and best score. He was nominated in the same categories in 2006 for his work on The Wedding Singer. His play Harbor premiered Off Broadway last season at Primary Stages. He also wrote the book and lyrics for Judas & MeThe Rhythm Club and Wicked City.

Paper Mill Playhouse will once again, be a collection point for this year’s Jersey Cares Coat Drive.  Over the past 19 years, Jersey Cares has collected, sorted and distributed more than 500,000 winter coats to New Jersey residents. The donated winter coats benefit at-risk men, women, children, and infants in our area. Each year, Paper Mill Playhouse gladly participates in this worthy cause and will be collecting gently-used, winter coats from November 26 through the run of Elf. This year, Paper Mill Playhouse will also be a collection center for new, unwrapped toys to help underserved communities throughout the state.  Collection of coats and toys will take place in the lobby at Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ.

Paper Mill Playhouse, a leader in accessibility, will offer audio-described performances for Elf on Saturday, December 20, and Sunday, December 21, at 1:30 pm. 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 21, at 7 pm. 

Paper Mill Playhouse will offer a special autism-friendly performance of Elf on Tuesday, December 23, at 1:30pm.  This performance is designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum or with other developmental disabilities, and is planned in cooperation with Paper Mill Playhouse’s Autism Advisory Team. This is the second time Paper Mill Playhouse has expanded its autism-friendly performances to a mainstage production after a successful performance of Disney’s The Little Mermaid in 2013. 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. 

Additionally, Paper Mill Playhouse will host a free open house titled Meet Your Seat on Monday, December 22, 2014, from 4:00 to 6:00pm.  This is an opportunity for children who are new to the theatrical experience to visit the theater space before the show. Often children with autism or other developmental disabilities become anxious in new surroundings, new experiences, and they need time to transition. 

The Meet Your Seat open house provides an opportunity for children to come to the theater in advance of the performance and take time to feel comfortable in this new space.  Major support for autism-friendly programs is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional generous support by C.R. Bard Foundation, The Karma Foundation, The Merck Company Foundation, and, MetLife Foundation.

Paper Mill Playhouse embraces a long history of providing access services to patrons of the theater.  In addition to autism-friendly performances, Paper Mill Playhouse offers a wide variety of access programs and services including: sign-interpreted performances, open-captioned performances, audio-described performances, pre-show sensory seminars and barrier-free access theater-wide.  Paper Mill Playhouse’s accessibility programs have been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, VSA arts/MetLife, and the New Jersey Department of Recreation as a role model for other performing arts organizations throughout the country.

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization, is one of the country's leading regional theaters.  Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.  Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.   

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