Benny & Joon Begins Rehearsals, With Claybourne Elder and Hannah Elless
Bryce Pinkham also appears in the new musical.
Rehearsals have begun for Paper Mill Playhouse's Benny & Joon, featuring a book by Kirsten Guenther, music by Nolan Gasser, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, and based on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture written by Barry Berman and Leslie McNeil. Performances will run April 4-May 5, with an official opening on April 14.
The principal cast includes Claybourne Elder (Sunday in the Park With George) as Benny, Hannah Elless (Bright Star) as Joon, Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder) as Sam, Conor Ryan (Desperate Measures) as Sam at certain performances, and Tatiana Wechsler (Oklahoma!) as Ruthie, with Colin Hanlon (Falsettos) as Mike, Paolo Montalban (Cinderella) as Larry, Natalie Toro (A Tale of Two Cities) as Dr. Cortez/Mrs. Smail, Jacob Keith Watson (Carousel) as Waldo/Video Store Owner, and Belinda Allyn (Paper Mill's West Side Story). The production will be directed by Jack Cummings III, with choreography by Scott Rink and music direction by J. Oconor Navarro.
Based on the 1993 film starring Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson, this new musical is a smart, funny, tenderhearted celebration of love: between children and parents; romantic partners; friends; and, most of all, siblings. The pair at the heart of the show are Joon, a young woman dealing with mental illness, and Benny, the big brother who's determined to take care of her. When a charmingly eccentric stranger comes into their lives, he throws their carefully calibrated world off-kilter — maybe for the better.
The production team includes scenic and costume design by Dane Laffrey, lighting design by R. Lee Kennedy, sound design by Kai Harada, flying by Foy, movement coordinator Lorenzo Pisoni, and orchestrations by Michael Starobin.