Friday, August 10, 2012


PMP exteriorPaper Mill Playhouse in partnership with VSA-NJ will once again offer

Creative Drama Class for Students with Developmental Disabilities, Ages 8 to 12

WHEN: 6 Fridays from September 7 through October 26, 5:00–6:00 PM
Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn
TUITION: $224 per student
Space is limited, so register today.
If you are interested in registering for this program or would like more information about services for students on the autism spectrum, please call Mickey McNany, Theatre School Director at 973.315.1669 or e-mail

Dis Photo 2Designed specifically for children with developmental disabilities, and planned in cooperation with VSA-NJ, an organization which provides a wide array of arts programming for children and adults with disabilities, this new class will include theater improvisation, story telling, music, movement and visual art. The series will creatively address and include diverse learning styles and modes of communication. The drama class for children with disabilities is also open to their non-disabled siblings and parents or other caregivers. The classes will be held on-site at Paper Mill Playhouse, and will be instructed by Leslie Fanelli of VSA-NJ.

“The class received such a positive response when we first offered it in the spring and I am thrilled we are offering it again,” commented Mickey McNany, Paper Mill Playhouse Theater School Director. “This type of creative play and learning experience is something special for these students and an opportunity they don’t often receive. It really does wonders for their self-confidence. I wish everyone could see the smiles on the students’ faces and ours!”

Dis Photo 1Instructor Leslie Fanelli has decades of experience working with students with disabilities. She is a Teaching Artist for VSA New Jersey, the state organization on arts and disabilities. It is the felicitous collaboration between Paper Mill and VSA that brings Leslie to the Theatre for Everyone program at the Paper Mill Playhouse. She is also the Executive Director of Theatre in Motion, an educational theatre company that features artists with and without disabilities performing for intergenerational audience/participants with and without disabilities. She teaches the Paper Mill class for youngsters with disabilities along with her assistant, Sean Dineen, an actor and adjunct history professor at Kean University who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.

This class offering continues Paper Mill’s tradition of innovating new ways to bring theater to everyone. Paper Mill Playhouse has long provided a Theater For Everyone model and in 2011 the theater began offering a groundbreaking program, Sensory Friendly live theater performances for children with autism and other developmental disabilities. For more information about Paper Mill Playhouse programs for students on the autism spectrum, visit:

Paper Mill Playhouse embraces a long history of providing access services to patrons of the theater and beyond. At Paper Mill Playhouse, we believe that the joy of live theater should be shared by everyone regardless of developmental or physical disability. We are proud to have our accessibility programming 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.

Paper Mill 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. Richard Herring, former director of the NJ Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing comments, “the comprehensive communication (interpreted performances, captioning and assistive listening devices) offered to patrons of Paper Mill Playhouse are among the most progressive and inclusive in New Jersey entertainment.”

Paper Mill Playhouse received the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ 2009 Excellence in Accessibility Leadership Award, the 2009 Arts Presenters/MetLife Award for Innovation and Excellence in Access, and the Cultural Access Network of New Jersey’s 2010 Sustainer Award and 2011 Innovators Award for its “Sensory-Friendly” live theater performances. These awards recognize the theater’s innovative access programming, its commitment to accessibility, and its example to other arts organizations in New Jersey and across the country.

Paper Mill Playhouse Access programming is generously supported by MetLife Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Merck Company Foundation, C.R. Bard Foundation, Inc., Fund for the New Jersey Blind, Cultural Access Network of New Jersey.

Founded in 1978, VSA-NJ is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the creative power of people with disabilities. The organization is part of the international VSA network, an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

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, and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the generous contributions of numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of Theatre Communications Group, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.