This month, we check in with Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director at Paper Mill Playhouse, as he tells us about their upcoming production of Ever After.
The world premiere of a brilliant new musical based on the 1998 film starring Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston. This is no fairy tale. Ever After 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 romantic, funny and smart, this is the musical you’ve been waiting for.
How did Ever After find its way to the Playhouse?
Ever After had been on our radar for several years. I saw an early reading of the show and loved the material. I had a meeting with Scott Landis and Philip Morgaman to discuss the show, but Paper Mill wasn’t at a place to take on the project at that time. Then about two years ago, we were working with Kevin McCollum on The Other Josh Cohen and he had joined the producing team on Ever After. Kevin encouraged me to come see another more full presentation of the piece that they were doing, so I went with Todd Schmidt, our Managing Director. Kathleen Marshall, the director/choreographer had assembled a wonderful cast and there was a 9-piece band and it was just wonderful. So we grabbed the opportunity to give the show its first full production.
What makes the show a “Paper Mill show?”
Well, let’s start with the material. What Zina [Goldrich] and Marcy [Heisler] have written is so good. It’s a terrific adaptation of the Drew Barrymore/Anjelica Huston film, but with a wonderful musical theatre spin. Having a hook like that in title recognition is a very comforting thing for an audience like ours.
The score is glorious and although the music feels incredibly fresh, the show has a classic feel about it, which is also great for our patrons. And the story, although familiar since it is based on the tale of Cinderella, has a new twist on it. Danielle, our heroine, is not sitting around waiting for a prince to rescue her. She takes her life in her own hands and makes the magic happen. It’s so nice to have a strong-willed, confident female character at the helm. But, as Kathleen says, the show “behaves like one of the classic Lerner and Loewe or R&H pieces,” which to me means that it takes a full romantic musical journey.
The show has been highly anticipated for years but has never been seen beyond a workshop. What are the creators hoping to achieve while at Paper Mill, other than realizing the full production?
I think that we are all just ready to see the material realized on stage, and we have a tremendous design team assembled to bring the show to life.
Derek McLane is designing the set, Jess Goldstein will be doing the costumes, Peter Kaczorowski is on lights and Nevin Steinberg is our sound designer. We also have Rick Sordelet and his son Christian to create the fight choreography. It’s an incredible team. And the period in which the show is set is so lush. The visual presentation promises to be as exciting as the material itself.
Why should everyone swing by Millburn this spring to experience Ever After?
I really think this is going to be an event that shouldn’t be missed. The cast is simply stunning—Margo Siebert (Rocky), James Snyder (If/Then), two-time Tony® winner Christine Ebersole, Emmy winner Charles Shaughnessy, Tony® nominees Tony Sheldon and Charl Brown, Julie Halston, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Annie Funke, Mara Davi and on and on… And Paper Mill is so easy to get to. There is a Midtown Direct train that leaves from Penn Station and drops you off practically at Paper Mill’s doorstep. We just started rehearsals this week and already the buzz is happening about how thrilling the show is!
For more information about Paper Mill Playhouse’s upcoming production of Ever After, visit the Paper Mill website.