Several youngsters sang along to Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham" and danced on the wooden floor in the second floor meeting room of the Millburn Public Library on Monday, Aug. 15.
These children, who were all 12 and under, were part of the Paper Mill Playhouse's August Intensive Program, which is designed for boys and girls who are interested in theater.
"It's all about learning life skills through theater such as speaking to each other and sharing ideas," explained Mickey McNany, director of the Paper Mill's Theatre School.
The August Intensive is a three-week program that teaches youngsters ages 10 to 15 acting, dancing and musical theater and concludes with a sharing - or show - that the children perform for their family. These lessons prepare children to be in the Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory the following year.
"The August Intensive gives them confidence and helps them work more intensely on their performance," said McNany, "It's a nice feed into the Conservatory."
The curriculum for this year's intensive was similar to previous ones, but this summer the location was different.
Normally, this three-week theater course practices in the Paper Mill's Black Box Theater, but because repairs were being made to the theater's third floor roof, these classes were held in the library as part of a partnership between the Paper Mill and library.
The theater was allowed to utilize a room on the library's second floor for rehearsal space for this program as well as the Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory which finished in July. The conservatory is a five-week program designed to enhance performing skills and technique, for those ages 10 to 18, who wish to excel in the arts. At the end of the program, the youngsters rehearse for the New Voices concert which is performed at Paper Mill each year.
"The library arts and Paper Mill arts are both arts and it's been a really nice partnership over the summer," said Shayne Miller, director of press and public relations for the Paper Mill.
"I'm sure it won't be the last time we work with the library," Miller noted.
"It's not only beneficial to both of us but it's been really entertaining," explained William Swinson, director of the Millburn Public Library, "It's interesting to see the training and the socialization these people go through."
"The program being here drives people to the library," noted Miller. "People outside of the community can see what the town has to offer."
Miller explained that the Paper Mill paid for a dance floor and mirrors to be brought into the library. The Paper Mill also maintained the space.
Due to wintry weather earlier this year, the Paper Mill's third floor roof was damaged by snow and ice. As part of construction this summer, all of the wooden support beams, or trusses, that support the roof have been replaced. Todd Schmidt, managing director of the theater, explained that the external roof has been shingled and a ceiling in the Black Box Theater that had shifted when the trusses separated from it this winter has also been replaced. The HVAC and electrical wires that run through the theater's attic are being reinstalled.
According to Schmidt, the construction work should be completed within the next two weeks.
"We're very positive and hopeful that the roof will be finished by the first week of September," said McNany, "That's when the theater classes begin."
Many students who are part of the August Intensive and the Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory enroll in additional theater instruction courses at the Paper Mill throughout the year.