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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Paper Mill Playhouse wins NJ Governor’s Jefferson Award for Autism-Friendly Performances! 2015-16 lineup

autism award

Five Autism-Friendly performances planned

autism ribbon Paper Mill Playhouse has announced that the Paper Mill Playhouse Autism Advisory Team has won the 2015 New Jersey State Governor's Jefferson Award for Public Service.  Paper Mill Playhouse was the first professional theater in the nation to offer Autism-Friendly performances designed for people with autism and other developmental disabilities, and continues its commitment to offering an ongoing series of affordable programming that enables all patrons to enjoy live theater with independence and dignity.  The Paper Mill Playhouse’s Autism Advisory Team was presented the Jefferson Award by Acting NJ Governor Kim Guadagno at a ceremony at the Newark Museum. Accepting the award were Paper Mill Autism Advisory Team leaders, Linda S. Meyer, Ed.D., BCBA-D, MPA, CPT; Kelly A. Carlile, M.A., BCBA; Jeff Jacobs, M.A., BCBA, and Erin Chambers, a graduate student in Applied Behavior Analysis at Caldwell College.

Ji1fUGXuZR7Nwu3tcakZM-welVDsM32z49RAuYnLCOw Honorees of the New Jersey State Governor's Jefferson Award achieve measurable community impact and represent outstanding acts of public service, without the expectation of recognition or compensation.  Recipients demonstrate unique vision, dedication and tenacity of heroic proportion and serve as inspiration for others.  The Paper Mill Playhouse Autism Advisory Team was selected for this prize from a pool of close to 500 nominees.  Team members must have a minimum of 2 years of experience working with or supporting people with autism or other developmentally disabilities, such as behavior analysts and special education educators.  Qualified volunteers wishing to join the award-winning Paper Mill Playhouse Autism Advisory Team should contact Paper Mill’s Director of Education Lisa Cooney at

At Autism-Friendly performances the theater environment is altered, providing a sensory-friendly, comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming to all families. The performance itself will be adjusted with special attention paid to lighting and sound, with preparation materials provided and on-site specialist support.  The Autism-Friendly 2015-16 performance schedule includes the TheatreworksUSA productions of Curious George on November 7 and May 12 at 10:00 am, The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe on December 16 at 10:00 am and Henry & Mudge on June 12 at 10:00 am.  Tickets for these performances are on sale now at

Also included this winter is a special Autism-Friendly performance of Paper Mill’s holiday, mainstage musical, A Christmas Story: The Musical. Paper Mill Playhouse will offer an Autism-Friendly performance of A Christmas Story: The Musical on Tuesday, December 29, at 1:30 pm. This is the third time Paper Mill Playhouse has expanded its autism-friendly performances to a mainstage production after a successful performance of Disney’s The Little Mermaid in 2013 and Elf in 2014.  Tickets for this performance are on sale now at or may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Groups of 10 or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680

christmas story Additionally, Paper Mill Playhouse will host a free Open House titled Meet Your Seat for A Christmas Story: The Musical on Monday, December 28, 2015, from 4:00 to 6:00pm.  This is an opportunity for children who are new to the theatrical experience to visit the theater space before the show. Often children with autism or other developmental disabilities become anxious in new surroundings, new experiences, and they need time to transition. The Meet Your Seat open house provides an opportunity for children to come to the theater in advance of the performance and take time to feel comfortable in this new space.  The Autism-Friendly performance of A Christmas Story: The Musical is proudly sponsored by the Merck Foundation.  Major funding for autism-friendly programs is provided by the Merck Foundation, with additional generous support from C.R. Bard Foundation, The Karma Foundation and MetLife Foundation.

The holiday movie that the whole world loves, comes to musical life.  Ralphie wants only one thing for Christmas: An Official Red Ryder® Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. A Christmas Story: The Musical is the hilarious account of Ralphie’s desperate quest to ensure that this most perfect of gifts ends up under his tree this Christmas. Straight from Broadway‚ this musical is based on the classic 1983 movie. It’s funny‚ heartfelt‚ and captures holiday wonder with such deliciously wicked wit that it is sure to delight children and grown-ups alike.

“There is no better way to celebrate the holidays than a trip to Paper Mill Playhouse to experience this heartwarming and hilarious musical based on one of America’s favorite holiday films” commented Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director for the Millburn theater. “Bring your entire family together to see this holiday treat.”

Paper Mill Playhouse embraces a long history of providing access services to patrons of the theater.  In addition to Autism-Friendly performances, Paper Mill Playhouse offers a wide variety of access programs and services including: sign-interpreted performances, open-captioned performances, audio-described performances, pre-show sensory seminars and barrier-free access theater-wide.  Paper Mill Playhouse’s accessibility programs have been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, VSA arts/MetLife, and the New Jersey Department of Recreation as a role model for other performing arts organizations throughout the country.

Paper Mill Playhouse, a leader in accessibility, will offer audio-described performances for A Christmas Story: The Musical on Saturday, December 19, and Sunday, December 20, at 1:30 pm. Prior to these performances at noon, the theater will offer free sensory seminars. Sensory seminars offer an opportunity for patrons with vision loss to hear a live, in-depth description of the production elements of the show and hands-on interaction with key sets, props, and costumes.  There will be a sign-interpreted and open-captioned performance on Sunday, December 20, at 7:00 pm. 

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization, is one of the country's leading regional theaters.  Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.  Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

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