Millburn Theater to Co-Produce Showcase for Young Artists with Disabilities on its Mainstage on August 8, 2020.

Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ

Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Producing Artistic Director, Michael Stotts- Managing Director), recipient of the Tony Award for Regional Theatre, has joined forces with the Cranford, New Jersey based non-profit Shining Stars Network to co-produce a performance featuring young artists with disabilities entitled “An Evening of Shining Stars.”  The showcase will offer audiences a Broadway spectacular featuring your favorite music, dance and production numbers from the Great White Way and will take place on Saturday, August 8, 2020 at Paper Mill Playhouse (22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ). Tickets will go on sale March 2020 starting at just $25 and may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343 or online at This event marks an expansion of Paper Mill Playhouse’s Theater for Everyone program, an award-winning initiative founded in 2011 that includes performances and classes for people with autism and other developmental disabilities and their families. Paper Mill’s Theater for Everyone program strives to weave inclusion throughout the fabric of the institution, creating opportunities for people of all abilities to learn, perform and attend performances with independence and dignity. 

Shining Stars Network’s Greatest Show performance May, 2018.

Shining Stars Network was created to put a spotlight on the special needs community and showcase their talents.  By producing inclusive entertainment, opportunities are provided for people with and without disabilities to work together to create experiences that enhance lives. Shining Stars performers are individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities who perform in inclusive events that build self-esteem and friendships.  Performers are shadowed by Shining Star buddies, neurotypical high school students who help Shining Star performers learn new things and develop strong friendships.  Founded in 2012 and initially serving Union County, New Jersey, there are now Shining Stars performers from seven different New Jersey counties. 

The Shining Stars Performers and their buddies.

“Prepare to be amazed as our special needs performers and their high school buddies take the stage in front of an audience of over 1,000,” shared Shining Stars Director Sally Curci.  “When the lights go up, the stars always shine, entertaining with solo acts and full-cast dance choreography.  The audience is wonderful, and our performers are amazing. Each and every year our audience has grown along with our cast. They continue to inspire us every day.  We are so excited to give our special cast the chance to perform at such a great venue as Paper Mill Playhouse.”

Paper Mill Playhouse holds up to 1,200 people.

“We are thrilled and honored to create this partnership with the legendary Paper Mill Playhouse,” noted Shining Stars Network Co-Founder and CEO Mike Curci. “From our special needs cast members, buddies, parents and our entire team, everyone is very excited for our stars to have the opportunity to perform on the iconic Paper Mill stage. It will be like performing on Broadway and we look forward to co-producing this show with their incredibly talented team.”

“An Evening of Shining Stars is an amazing opportunity to foster a love for performing for these young artists whose gifts are many,” remarked Paper Mill Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Mark S. Hoebee.  “We’re very pleased to be working with Shining Stars to make this event come to life on the historic Paper Mill stage.  When the New Jersey legislature-designated Paper Mill as the State Theater of New Jersey in 1972, we made it our mission to ensure that the art and cultural experiences at Paper Mill were available and meaningful to the entire population.  This event speaks to that core mission in a meaningful way.”   

An Evening of Shining Stars highlights the many talents of the local special needs community.

A national leader in cultural accessibility, Paper Mill Playhouse offers a myriad of award-winning access programs and services, including audio description, sensory seminars, Braille and large-print programs for the visually impaired, American Sign Language interpretation, open-captioning and assistive listening devices for those with hearing loss.In addition, Paper Mill offers classes for adults and adolescents with developmental disabilities to study creative drama and improvisation, and provides autism-friendly performances of both mainstage and children’s shows throughout the season. Upcoming autism-friendly performances are the one-hour performance of Dog Man: The Musical on Sunday, December 8, at 10:00AM, and the mainstage production of  Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Thursday, December 26, at 1:30PM. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, or at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at  The Goren Family and the Harmony Helper App, and Merck are the major sponsors of the autism friendly performance of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

Shining Stars Network focuses on building self-confidence through the performing arts.

SHINING STARS NETWORK is a non-profit organization founded by Sally and Mike Curci that shines the light on the special needs community by creating opportunities in the performing arts, with the goal of building self-confidence and self-esteem while enjoying the experience of performing on stage. In addition, their Shining Stars Ambassadors basketball team travels to play local first responders and organizations while building friendship and understanding. Now entering its 4th year, Camp Shine, a two-week intensive special needs performing arts summer camp, will take place the last two weeks of August 2020. For more information on Shining Stars Network or any of their programs, please visit

Paper Mill Playhouse was recently renovated for the 80th anniversary season.

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization under the direction of Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director) and Michael Stotts (Managing Director), recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award, 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. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.  Paper Mill Playhouse Education and Outreach are proudly sponsored by The Goren Family and The Harmony Helper App.  Major funding for autism-friendly programs is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and Wells Fargo. Additional support includes Autism Speaks, BD, The Thomas & Agnes Carvel Foundation, The Karma Foundation, Merck, MetLife Foundation, Nordstrom, and Summit Area Public Foundation.

Paper Mill pioneered the Theater for Everyone in 2011.

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