Saturday, June 6, 2015

'Ever After' Enchants At Paper Mill Playhouse

Have you been to the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ?
If not, now is a perfect time to go.
Because, this legendary theater and well-know Broadway incubator is presenting a romantic new musical suitable for all ages. And Millburn is beautiful this time of year.
But, you'll have to hurry because the world premiere of Ever After continues only through June 21.
Hey, even if you've been to the Playhouse before this show makes it worth a return visit.
Based on the 1998 film starring Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston, Ever After is no fairy tale. With Book and lyrics by Marcy Heisler and music by Zina Goldrich, this show sets the record straight on the fable of Cinderella. It was never about fairy godmothers, talking mice, or magic pumpkins. Her name was Danielle and it was always about her wit, her smarts, her strength, and her good friend, Leonardo da Vinci. She makes her own dreams come true. Warm and beguiling, funny and smart, this is the musical you’ll take to your heart.
It's superbly directed and choreographed by three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall. And it stars two-time Tony winner Christine Ebersole (Grey Gardens), Emmy winner Charles Shaughnessy (The Nanny), Julie Halston (On The Town) and two marvelous rising stars of Broadway, James Snyder (If/Then) and Margo Seibert (Rocky) as Danielle and Prince Henry. When Snyder and Seibert look into each other's eyes and sing some of the lushly romantic songs in this show it's an absolute joy. They are perfectly matched. Snyder's voice has incredible range and is capable of evoking love, loss and longing. And Seibert has correctly been called "a compelling presence" with a "textured singing voice that lets us hear the character" she is playing.
Right at the start of Ever After the pace is set when Danielle's father sings the beautiful title song. It's a poignant moment that's followed by more than a few surprises. Along the way, we meet the characters of the classic tale presented for the first time as real, three-dimensional personalities, each with their own struggles, hopes, disappointments, dreams, resentments and aspirations. It's a revelation, in more ways than one.
This is a musical with truly melodic, meaningful, listenable songs including the playful My Cousin's Cousin, After All (a mother's weary lament), the farcical All Hail the Gypsy Queen, the romantic Right Before My Eyes, the soaring Out of the Darkness and finally, a beautiful anthem in Love Goes On.
It would be easy to caricature the by now all-too-familiar principals in this tale but the script resists that temptation and the actors take it all to a new level. Ebersole, Shaughnessey, Halston, Snyder and Seibert give us rich portrayals and they're joined by Tony award nominees Charl Brown (Motown) and Tony Sheldon (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) to give us an extraordinary ensemble. Sheldon is wise and wistful as Leonardo da Vinci and Brown is wonderfully agile and endearing as Captain Laurent.
One hopes that Ever After will have a life beyond this world premiere at Paper Mill. It certainly deserves to live on.
But that is just a dream at this point.
So, don't wait. Don't take a chance. See it now!

About Paper Mill Playhouse

Founded in 1934, Paper Mill Playhouse raised the curtain on its first performance with Gregorio Martinez Sierra’s The Kingdom of God on November 14, 1938. By the end of the first year, Carrington had coaxed entertainer Irene Castle out of retirement to make her dramatic debut in Noël Coward’s Shadow Play. The first few years featured a variety of classical and modern plays. By 1941, the Playhouse had begun to specialize in operettas, which it continued until the early 1950s.
Change marked this period in Paper Mill’s history, especially with Scudder’s death in 1958. Then, Angelo Del Rossi joined as Associate Producer in 1964, working closely with Carrington until his death in 1975. Del Rossi then became Executive Producer and remained in that role for nearly 40 years. During this period he led the Playhouse to a new era of prominence and artistic excellence.
In 1971, the New Jersey Ballet staged its first production of The Nutcracker at Paper Mill with world-renowned dancer Edward Villella in the role of the Cavalier. The Nutcracker production has been produced annually at Paper Mill since then.
In 1972, Governor of New Jersey William Cahill proclaimed Paper Mill the "Official State Theater of New Jersey." The theater has been cited as a State Center of Artistic Excellence and as a Major Impact and Distinguished Arts Organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Through the years, Paper Mill Playhouse has welcomed such talent as Christopher Patterson, Gloria Stuart, Alice Ripley, Eddie Bracken, Laura Benanti (Rising Star Award winner), Betty Buckley, Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Christine Ebersole, George S. Irving, Laurence Guittard, Anne Hathaway (Paper Mill Conservatory alumna and Rising Star Award nominee), Dee Hoty, John Mahoney, Dorothy Louden, Donna McKechnie, Ann Miller, Stephanie Mills, Liza Minnelli, Estelle Parsons, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera, Tony Roberts, Patrick Swayze, Karen Ziemba, Adrian Zmed, Nick Jonas, Bailey Hanks, Lynn Redgrave, Lorna Luft, and David Garrison.
In April 2003, Michael Gennaro, former Executive Director of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, joined Paper Mill as President and CEO. Paper Mill Playhouse was one of the first theaters to begin the regional theater movement in the United States. It has grown to be one of the most acclaimed not-for-profit professional theaters in the country, and attracts more than 450,000 people annually, and has one of the largest subscription based audiences.

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