MILLBURN, NJ — Paper Mill Playhouse, recipient of the 2016 Tony Award for Regional Theatre, has selected students to be a part of the theater’s prestigious Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory for 2017. Participants range in age from 10 to 18. Members of the competitive Conservatory who earned coveted spots in the Senior, Junior Plus and Junior companies are directed and choreographed by Paper Mill Playhouse’s professional artistic staff in a fully produced, original concert on the Paper Mill mainstage titled “New Voices of 2017: Everyone Loves an Underdog!” The concert is the culmination of the five-week program. Also appearing are numerous winners and nominees of the 2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards presented by the Investors Foundation, who won scholarships to attend the Conservatory. The Summer Musical Theater Conservatory and “New Voices” are supported by the Investors Foundation.
Performances of “New Voices of 2017: Everyone Loves an Underdog!” will be Friday, July 28, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, July 29, at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973-376-4343, visiting www.papermill.org or visiting the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office.
This year’s conservatory students include Bloomfield’s Katie Kallay and Ellie Kallay; Cedar Grove’s Francesca Catrone; Livingston’s Brooke Lelia; Maplewood’s Hunter Kovacs, Ben Halperin, Georgia Post-Lipnick, Charlotte Post-Lipnick and Alonzo Gallo; Millburn’s Amanda Heckmann, Sanaa Quander and Halle Just; Montclair’s Bobby Axelrod, Abraham Deitz-Green, Justin Comini, Ella Fine, Will Flamm and Ambrose Armory; Newark’s Gabriana Padilla; Nutley’s Maggie Spector-Williams; Roseland’s Aidan Alberto; Short Hills’ Sydney Brenton, Jonathan Charette, Judith DiMinni, Spencer Brenton, Rachel Gesner, Julia Gesner, William Kaiser, Aashni Sawhney and Lily Tan; South Orange’s Ben Blais, Harry Echtman, Naomi Fisch, Olivia Pryor and Gideon Johnson; Verona’s Maya Fortgang; West Caldwell’s Alex Vacchiano; and West Orange’s Riley Hahn and Samantha Powell.
“From the first day of class all the way through opening night of ‘New Voices,’ we require our students to rise to the demands of this rigorous program,” Lisa Cooney, Paper Mill Playhouse director of education, said in a press release. “We ask them to work harder than they ever have before as young performers, and we strive to build an incredible ensemble company, while each student hones their own individual performance skills. Our faculty pushes the students to believe in themselves as professional artists and treats them as such.
“We find summer after summer that our students meet our expectations and more,” she continued. “When they move on to college or the professional world, they are ready for the challenges they’ll face, and time and again they thrive and ultimately live their dream of being a professional performer. It’s gratifying when they make a name for themselves on Broadway or in Hollywood, but even if they do not, the skills they learn and the work ethic they develop will serve them in any field.”
The Paper Mill Playhouse Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory is a program of rigorous study allowing students to enhance their individual performance potential while developing a broad base of theater experience and knowledge. Students participate in intensive classes including musical theater performance, acting, dance, and improvisation, while also attending guest workshops led by professional actors, directors, and casting agents. The final weeks are devoted to rehearsals for the “New Voices” concert, performed annually on the Paper Mill Playhouse stage. The conservatory offers the unique opportunity for gifted and talented young performers to work at their own level and challenge themselves to achieve new goals and learn new skills. Key to the curriculum is the development of self-discipline, respect, and a commitment to excellence that will serve these young artists throughout their lives.
Photos Courtesy of Paper Mill Playhouse