New Jersey prides itself on its varied arts programs and outlets. One of the most famed of these is the Paper Mill Playhouse, located on 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn.
The playhouse, an actual paper mill when it was built in 1795, opened for its current usage in 1938.
The productions found at the theater span all age brackets, and many state residents will tell you that their first school trip experiences were to Paper Mill.
"Paper Mill Playhouse produces our theater from the ground up," playhouse press relations manager Shayne Miller said. "This sets us apart from the many presenting houses in the state. Furthermore, Paper Mill Playhouse is the only professional theater in the state that produces a season of musicals. Our beautiful, brook-side campus offers a serene excursion for any family. Our campus, in the heart of Downtown Millburn offers an array of cafes, shops and restaurants for a perfect evening or afternoon out."
Upcoming productions include a stage adaptation of the Disney musical "Newsies" and a holiday favorite, an adaptation of Irving Berlin’s "White Christmas." Alongside the playhouse's New Voices presentations and short-run productions and presentations, Paper Mill Playhouse has no shortage of shows to enthrall families. That's why we've chosen it for this installment of Day Tripper, a weekly look at destinations that are out of town, but in reach, and worth the trip.
DAY TRIPPER DIGEST
Estimated Travel Time: 43 Minutes
Why it’s Worth the Trip: Paper Mill Playhouse is easily within reach. It's an affordably priced, professional theater with a wide range of presentations. If you are looking for a satisfy your love of live productions without going broke, Paper Mill is a perfect solution. Even better, it's a staple of New Jersey’s culture and history.
How to Get There from Here: Detailed driving directions.
You’ll Probably Get Hungry: A short ride onto Main St. will bring you within reach of La Strada Restaurant, Tinga Taqueria, and Bella's Bakery. If you’re being budget-conscious, you can grab a frappucino at Starbucks Coffee or lunch at the Millburn Diner.
While You’re in the Area: Why not do some shopping while you’re in town? There are plenty of boutiques (Red Carpet Boutique, Jia Boutique and Maria's Boutique among them). You might want to try out shops like Gambert Custom Shirts, Footnotes and The Sneaker Factory, too. A short ride will bring you to The Mall at Short Hills for a wider variety (and back-to-school shopping, but don’t let the kids know). The historic Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary is also in Short Hills. This destination was established in 1923 and highlights 45 species of trees, including 275-year-old tulip trees, rare ferns, more than 150 species of wildflowers, and 100 species of birds.
Miller said that he believed the theater was good not only for the area, but for New Jersey arts in general.
“Paper Mill Playhouse was named The State Theater of New Jersey by Gov. (William T.) Cahill in 1976,” Miller said. “Everyone in New Jersey has a Paper Mill Playhouse story. Whether you visited the campus as a child, attended a production with your family or participated in one of our many arts education programs, Paper Mill Playhouse has touched so many lives in the State of New Jersey.”
“Paper Mill Playhouse arts education programs reach over 50,000 students each year in all 21 counties of the state,” Miller said of the theater’s efforts beyond just mounting productions. “Our outreach and access programs make it possible for everyone, regardless of disability, to enjoy live theater with dignity and independence.”
Miller’s connection to Paper Mill Playhouse started early.
"I began (working) at Paper Mill Playhouse six years ago. I attended productions at Paper Mill Playhouse since I was a child," Miller said. "My educational background was in theater and my work experience was in press and public relations (in politics). The position at Paper Mill Playhouse was a way for me to bring both my work experience and my educational experience, along with my passion for the arts to this beloved not-for-profit arts organization.”