Paper Mill Playhouse hosted its Center Stage Celebration on Friday, May 13th at the Hilton Short Hills. The benefit honored eight time Academy Award®-winning composer Alan Menken with the theater's prestigious Frank Carrington Excellence in the Arts Award. There to add to the entertainment of the evening and help honor the music man was Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award winner Laura Benanti. BroadwayWorld was on hand for the event and brings you photo coverage of the gala below.
The first award was presented posthumously to legendary actress Lynn Redgrave who appeared in Paper Mill Playhouse's The Important of Being Earnest. The Frank Carrington Excellence in the Arts Award is named after Paper Mill Playhouse's co-founder and first Executive Producer. This award is given to a Paper Mill Playhouse artist who has experienced a distinguished career in the entertainment industry.
In addition to the appearances by Menken and Benanti, the annual gala celebration offerdc an evening of dinner, dancing, auctions and entertainment with students from Paper Mill Playhouse's arts education programs performing a tribute to Mr. Menken.
ALAN MENKEN has won a total of eight Oscars, more than any other living individual, and has been Oscar-nominated a total of twenty times. Theatre scores: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; Real Life Funnies; Atina: Evil Queen of the Galaxy; Little Shop of Horrors; Kicks; Patch, Patch, Patch; The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz; Beauty and the Beast; A Christmas Carol; King David; Weird Romance; Der Glöckner von Notre Dame; The Little Mermaid; Leap of Faith; and Sister Act. Film scores: Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Newsies, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Life with Mikey, Hercules, Home on the Range, The Shaggy Dog, Noel, Enchanted and Tangled. Honors: eight Academy Awards, seven Golden Globes, ten Grammys, New York Drama Critics Circle Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk, two Tony nominations, the Olivier Award, London's Evening Standard Award, membership in the Songwriters' Hall of Fame, a doctorate in fine arts from New York University and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Upcoming: Stage adaptations of Aladdin, Newsies and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Ms. Benanti was the first Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award winner for a Leading Actress in a Musical. She was honored with the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Drama League nomination for her portrayal of Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee in the Patti LuPone revival of Gypsy. She previously starred in the Encores! production. Broadway: The Sound of Music (Maria, opposite Richard Chamberlain), Swing! (Tony nomination: Best Featured Actress), Into The Woods (Cinderella; Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, LA Ovation and Tony nominations), Nine (Claudia, opposite Antonio Banderas; Outer Critics Circle, Drama League nominations), The Wedding Singer (Julia Sullivan), In The Next Room, or The Vibrator Play (Lincoln Center), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Lincoln Center). Encores: Gypsy (Louise), Wonderful Town (Eileen). Benefits: The Secret Garden (Lily), Hair, Pippin (Catherine) and Children of Eden. Off-Broadway: Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, Time and Again (Julia, MTC). LA Opera: A Little Night Music (Anne). Williamstown: The Winter's Tale (Perdita, opposite Kate Burton). Film: Falling for Grace (Princess Alexandra), Take the Lead. Television: "Open Books" (CBS), "Life on Mars" (ABC), "Eli Stone" (ABC), "Starved" (FX). Recordings: several Broadway cast recordings, as well as "NEO," "The Stephen Schwartz Album" and "The Maury Yeston Songbook." Laura Benanti was raised in Kinnelon, New Jersey.
Senator Thomas H. Kean, Jr., New Jersey Senate Republication Leader was also honored with the Byrne Kean Arts Advocate Award. The first Byrne Kean Arts Advocate Award was presented to Brendan Byrne and Tom Kean, Sr. in 2010 for their passionate work on behalf of New Jersey's arts community.
For over seven decades Paper Mill Playhouse has been one of the nation's leading not-for-profit theaters. They continue to bring world-class artists and outstanding musicals and plays to the community while enriching the lives of over 50,000 young people each year through renowned education outreach, artists training and access programs.
Photo Credit: Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Alan Menken and Nora Menken with students from the Theatre School at Paper Mill-Ben Rosenbach, Krista Pioppi, Charlo Kirk, Kaela O'Connor, Aaron Riesebeck, Jordan Barrow and Melody Madarasz
Alan Menken with Hannah Skokan, Melissa Barrow, Montana Byrne, Mackenzie Popielarz, Victoria Napolitano, Jacqueline Napolitano, and Julia Napolitano
Senator Thomas H. Kean, Jr., Rhonda Kean, and The Honorable Thomas H. Kean
The Honorable Thomas H. Kean
Laura Benanti and Patrick Parker (Associate Artistic Director of Paper Mill)
Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director of Paper Mill) and Laura Benanti
Laura Benanti and Mark S. Hoebee
Laura Benanti, Patrick Parker and students from Paper Mill Playhouse
Charles A. Pascarella (Board of Trustees), Maryann Pascarella, Raymond Babinski and Judith Babinski
Mary Coll (Center Stage Celebration Committee), Karen Stirling and Barbara Luby
Carolyn J. Ferolito (Co-Chair of Center Stage Celebration) and Lesley McDonald
Howard Hirsch (Board of Trustees) and Carolyn J. Ferolito
Jacqueline Brevard (Board of Trustees), Laye Thiam and Beverly Mack
Michael Row and Lynn Van Nosdall (Center Stage Celebration Committee)
Kristin Wenger and Kenneth P. Wenger (Chair of the Board of Trustees)
Norman Baron and Laura Baron
Pamela Hirsch and Howard Hirsch
Dr. Perry Robins and Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf
Theresa De Leon and J.D. DeLeon
Lana Gold Walder (Board of Trustees) and Justin Walder
Margy Coll, Karyn Rosamilia and Neva Rosamilia
Sean Larkin and Stephanie Mallios
Olga Dobrolieubova and Esme Artz (Press Assistant Paper Mill Playhouse)
ChristIna Clarkson and Brian Clarkson (Board of Trustees)
Robert Cepek and Jackie Cepek
Deborah Walkoczy and Lisa E. Cooney (Director of Education)
Bridget Bross, Olga Dobrolieubova and Deborah Walkoczy
Patrick Parker and Mark S. Hoebee
Carolyn J. Ferolito and Jerry Rose
Beth Kirsch (Board of Trustees) and Robert Kirsch
Lauren Ferrari (Board of Trustees) and Richard Gonzalez
Tom Matt and Carl Knerem with Jane E. Higgens (Co-Chair of Paper Mill Playhouse Center Stage Celebration)
Newsies-Kathryn Raskin, Kim Castellanos, Christopher Morrissey and Adam Ziering
Todd Schmidt (Managing Director)
The Byrne Kean Arts Advocate Award is presented by The Honorable Thomas H. Kean, The Honorable Brendan T. Byrne and Todd Schmidt to Senator Thomas H. Kean, Jr.
Senator Thomas H. Kean, Jr.
Mark S. Hoebee
The Frank Carrington Excellence In The Arts Award is presented to Alan Menken by Mark S. Hoebee and Todd Schmidt
Students from Paper Mill Playhouse Education Programs
Aaron Risebeck, Jordan Barrow, Melody Madarasz, Krista Pioppi, Kaela O'Connor and Charlo Kirk
Jordan Barrow, Melody Madarasz and Krista Pioppi