Paper Mill Playhouse Offers Drama Class For Students With Developmental Disabilities

MILLBURN — Paper Mill Playhouse in partnership with VSA-NJ will once again offer its creative drama class for students with developmental disabilities ages 8 to 12. This class meets Fridays from Sept. 7 through Oct. 26 from 5-6 p.m. This six-week program costs $224 per student. Registration is required and space is limited.

Designed specifically for children with developmental disabilities, and planned in cooperation with VSA-NJ, an organization that 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,” comments Paper Mill Playhouse Theater School Director Mickey McNany. “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!”

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 Fanelli 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:

If you are interested in registering for this program or would like more information about services for students on the autism spectrum, call Theatre School Director Mickey McNany, at 1-973-315-1669 or email


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