The theater is proceeding with rehearsals for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which is to begin performances on Wednesday. The final show of the season, Pirates is slated to open in June; but that production's future remains in jeopardy, as does the theater's recently announced 2007-2008 season.
"Since we went public [with our financial situation], we have received a tremendous amount of support from the community -- probably over $300,000 in small donations from all over the world," says Miller. "We've received donations from Tovah Feldshuh, who did Hello, Dolly! for us, and from actors who are currently performing in London.
"The board of trustees met yesterday and decided to let us proceed with tech rehearsals for Seven Brides. We're hoping that, at some point, a bank loan is going to come through to get us through the rest of the season, but as of today, we only have enough cash in hand to get us through next Friday. That includes the first three performances of Seven Brides but not the press opening. A couple of state politicans have started the process of granting Paper Mill emergency funding of $300,000 to $400,000, but even if that funding is approved, it's not going to be available to us until August."
As previously reported, Paper Mill began this season with a proposed $17 million budget and an acknowledged $2.8 million deficit. The theater's board of directors had committed to donating $1.1 million and raising up to $2 million, but as of the beginning of this week, only $56,000 had been received. Paper Mill was denied a $2 million loan by PNC Bank, despite the fact that the theater owns its property outright and that property alone is estimated to be worth at least $8 million.
On Monday, April 9, the theater will host a rally with local residents, elected officials including Senator Tom Kean Jr. and Governor Richard Cody, and performers including John Lloyd Young, Michelle Ragusa, Danette Holden, and Kate Baldwin. The rally will take place on the Playhouse grounds, beginning at 7pm, while a tech rehearsal for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers goes on in the theater.