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The audience went wild for Half Time at Paper Mill Playhouse

Ralph Malachowski

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posted by Ralph Malachowski on Jun 15, 2018 10:30am | comments


The new musical Half Time opened June 12 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, NJ.


This east coast premiere of Half Time has Book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin (to their credit: Elf, Drowsy Chaperone, the forthcoming Princess Bride, The Sting, The Wedding Singer, and on and on), Music by Matthew Sklar (Elf, The Wedding Singer, the forthcoming The Prom for later this year on Broadway), Lyrics by Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde, Mean Girls), with additional music from the late, great Marvin Hamlisch. This winning team also counts Jerry Mitchell as Director and Choreographer. It’s no wonder that the opening night audience on June 12 burst into applause with every star entrance, every musical number, laughed heartily at every joke, and gave the finale number, “Gotta Get Up!” (Ester Dean, Matthew Sklar, and Nell Benjamin) a prolonged standing ovation.


Half Time is based upon the film Gotta Dance which told the true story of a basketball team which decided to have seniors dance in a hip-hop squad during half time over a decade ago.


The stars included such Broadway legends, those close to that status, and dazzling newcomers including: Andre De Shields; Georgia Engel; Donna McKechnie; Lillias White; Haven Burton; Lori Tan Chin; Nkeki Obi-Melekwe; and Nancy Ticotin. Georgia Engel often stole the show with her comedic timing as well as her singing and dancing, while Lillias White brought down the house with her powerful vocals. Andre De Shields danced and charmed, Donna McKechnie was warm and vital, and Nancy Ticotin as Camilla burned the stage with her steamy song and dance number “Como No?” with her 25-year-old lover, Fernando (marvelously played and danced by the handsome and amazing Alexander Aguilar).


Abundant talent wasn’t limited to the actors and dancers on stage. The live orchestra was fabulous, the Design Team was fabulous, and the dancing was fabulous. A special note of gratitude goes to Randy Hansen for Sound. So often lately, we’ve heard productions with sound issues. Half Time had impeccable sound. Everything – music, dialogue, singing – came through perfectly. Mr. Hansen generously thanked Brett Moore, Paper Mill’s sound engineer, in his biography. Doing this, Randy Hansen showed a touch of class from a consummate professional.


To sum it all up, Mark Hoebee in his welcoming letter in the program wrote it best in describing Half Time as having “… lovable characters, an emotional heart, rousing tunes, and some astonishing dance moves … .”


Half Time is the final production of this season. The 2018-2019 Paper Mill Playhouse Season will be its 80th Season and will include The Color Purple, Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, My Very Own British Invasion, Benny & Joon, and Beauty and the Beast. The Paper Mill Playhouse is the recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award.


For more information about Half Time: A New Musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse until July 1, and for information to their next season, visit                  



NOTE: Opinions are those of the author, and not necessarily those of or of any organization or business that the author is assosciated with.

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