↑ Return to About


Meg Schaefer, Ph.D. directed her first New Players production in the spring of 1989. Since then, she has directed nearly 50 shows and served in numerous other capacities, including producer, artistic director of Summer New Players, and supervisor of the Junior Company Program. Dr. Schaefer, who was named Artistic Director of the New Players Company in 2005, believes that the most important function of theater is to broaden and deepen our understanding of the human condition. She is a process oriented director whose rehearsals focus on collaborative work among the actors and director to explore a play’s text and characters. During the summer of 2003, Dr. Schaefer received a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to participate in a month-long intensive workshop on teaching Shakespeare with Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. She was also named Ridgewood High School Teacher of the Year in 1999. In addition to her work with the New Players Company, Dr. Schaefer has directed shows for Bergen Community College, served as Associate Producer for Georgetown University’s Mask and Bauble Theater Company, and worked for McCarter Theatre’s Education Department as a visiting teacher artist. Her undergraduate and graduate degrees are from Georgetown and the University of Virginia. In 2005, she successfully defended her dissertation on integrating drama techniques and textual analysis in the teaching of Shakespeare and was awarded a Ph.D. in Educational Theatre from New York University.

Louisa Vilardi is the producer for New Players Company and an English teacher at RHS. Louisa served as a resident director for NPC for many years and has directed a number of productions including Dark of the Moon, Charlotte’s Web, A Christmas Carol, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Guys & Dolls, 12 Angry Jurors, Secret in the Wings, Aida, Footloose, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In 2008, she created the NPC Playwriting Program cultivating the creation of short one act plays leading to a professional staged reading of students’ original work in NYC and a full production of student written and directed one acts on our own Little Theatre stage. Louisa is also a writer, and her first children’s book, Your Best Coaches, was published in November 2012 and her second book, Together, was published last year. Visit www.LouisaLuisi.com for more information.

Nate Hamm is happy to be returning to New Players for his third season! Hailing from DeSales University in Center Valley Pennsylvania, he made his New Players directing debut last season with The Grapes of Wrath, and is looking forward to working on an all new project for this season! Nate has spent seasons at both the Pennsylvania and Orlando Shakespeare Festivals. He has also worked several years at The Juilliard School.  Nate currently lives in Jersey City with his wife, and enjoys spending time outdoors. Thank you to the entire New Players Company for making me feel like part of the family!

Kelly Van Zile is a Ridgewood High School graduate and spent most of those four years in this theater.  She is always proud to be working with the New Players Company and her many fellow collaborators. Here, Kelly has directed Skin of Our Teeth, Durang-a-thon!, Anything Goes, Sweet Charity, Twelfth Night, The Little Prince, A Chorus Line, The Outsiders, Rehearsal For Murder, Comic Potential, The Crucible, The Wiz and Museum.  She is looking forward to tackling the musical again this winter! After receiving her BA in English and Theater from Skidmore College, Kelly worked as a professional actress.  She was seen at Adirondack Theater Festival, Mill Mountain Theater, and Northern Stage among others.  Kelly also coaches professionals to present with confidence and clarity for a communications firm, Exec|Comm, in New York City. She now lives close by with her actor husband, Andrew Grusetskie and sons Leopold and Dabney.

Tony Capone is delighted to be a part of the New Players this year! It was in high school where he got the “theater bug” and realized how much the performing arts can mean to a young adult. He has a background as both an actor and director. Tony has directed over 20 productions regionally and in NYC. Some favorites include Leading Ladies, I Hate Hamlet, and The Smell of the Kill at Cortland Repertory Theater; The Graduate, The Mousetrap and Almost Maine at The Theater Barn; Laundry & Bourbon and The Faithful at The Barrow Group. On Broadway he appeared in Miss Saigon (Chris), Carousel at Lincoln Center Theater (u/s Billy Bigelow), and 10 Encores! Musicals in Concert at City Center. Tony has been a Guest Artist with several symphony orchestras around the country and played principal roles at many of the nation’s finest regional theaters including The Cincinnati Play House, The Geva Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Studio Theater (DC) and The Cleveland Playhouse. Tony is grateful to Kelly Van Zile for this opportunity to work with wonderful community at Ridgewood HS.  Tony is happy to return to Ridgewood after directing last years productions of Stage Door and Almost, Maine

Gary Fink began conducting the New Players Pit Orchestra regularly in 2004 with their summer production of Pippin. He began his association with the New Players as a last minute substitute percussionist in the 1990 production of “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown”. Since then, he has been involved with the New Players Company as a percussionist, conductor, composer, arranger, sound designer and sound board operator. He has performed in or conducted the pit orchestra of 140 musicals in New York and New Jersey, and credits his massive collection of strange percussion instruments to that fact. He studied music at Eastman School of Music and William Paterson College and is the director of Jazz and Percussion at Ridgewood High School. On the audio side, Mr. Fink has been a sound designer for NPC since 1992 when he created the soundscape for “An Evening of Science Fiction and Fantasy”. He developed his “chops” at the little known Radio City Music Hall in 1979, where he played back tapes before thousands of people and put wireless microphones on such budding stars as Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda, Jason Robards and Sting and almost got punched out by rock star John Cougar Mellencamp. Gary did final sound design work for the opening of “The Great Movie Ride” at Disney World, worked for 10 year at National Public Radio and mixed sound effects and music for over 75 STAR TREK™ Audiobooks for Simon & Schuster. He teaches the Acoustics course at William Paterson University, is a stagehand in the audio department of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and has a freelance recording business.

Jennifer and Tony Landa (“Team Landa”) are so happy to be a part of the New Players Company! Jen has been teaching dance at Ridgewood High School since 2006 and has the pleasure of working with many of our actors daily in class. Prior to teaching in the district, she performed with Ivy Baldwin Dance, Tap Fusion, the Von Howard Project, and Umoja Dance Company. After receiving her MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she enjoyed dancing all over NYC and around the country. Tony comes to us from Chicago, where he danced with Lane Alexander’s BAM!, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, and T.J. & Co. Dance Theatre, where he was also a choreographer for the junior company. With JRJP, Tony led residencies at UW Steven’s Point, UMD (Duluth), KSU (Manhattan), and Gallery 37 (Chicago). He also choreographed many shows at St. Joseph High School in Kenosha, WI, and was adjunct faculty at Northwestern University. Currently, he is on faculty at Art of Motion here in Ridgewood. Team Landa also has two smaller members, John Joseph and Tommy, who constantly remind us of why we dance.

Steven Bourque has been the choral director at Ridgewood High School since 2010, directing the Chamber Choir, the Concert Choir, Chorale, the Maroon Men, the AcaBellas, the Voices, and the Carolers. Additionally, he instructs AP Music Theory and Music Rewind. He served as the Musical Director for Aida, Footloose, The Wiz, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with the New Players Company. Steven graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Music Education.

John Judge is a Ridgewood High School graduate class of 1999 and NPC alum.  John has been involved with music since he started teaching himself piano at age 8. During high school, John was in band with Jeffrey Haas in 9th grade, was directed as a New Player by Meg Schaefer, went to Europe to sing with American Music Abroad under the guidance of Gary Fink, and took private vocal/piano lessons from Elizabeth Maxwell, who has been his NPC co-musical director since 2010. While majoring in both International Business and Chinese at Dickinson College, John sang with and music-directed the college’s all-male a cappella group, The Octals.  After college, John worked with various theater companies; music directing and playing keyboards in various productions including Godspell, Little Shop of Horrors and Smokey Joe’s Café. Although John is employed as a Lieutenant in the Ridgewood Fire Department, a Valley Hospital paramedic, and is getting his masters from Penn State, he loves to spend his free time working as a musical director with the New Players Company.  In the summer of 2010, Elizabeth Maxwell asked John to assist with The Mystery of Edwin Drood and he has been here since; working on New Players in Concert, A Chorus Line, Guys and Dolls and his personal favorite, the revival of Songs for a Summer Night. John is honored for the opportunity to work with such a talented group of students and staff. John would like to give a special thank you to Elizabeth Maxwell for bringing him back to New Players and for all the knowledge she has bestowed upon him.

Jason Bolen  Recent design credits include Brownsville Bred (59E59), Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Ten Unknowns (Schoolhouse Theatre), Neurosis: A New Musical (Merry-Go-Round Playhouse), Les Misérables (Little Theatre on the Square), The Mystery of Irma Vep, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Cats (Cortland Repertory Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Lehman College CUNY), Bedroom Farce, On the Verge (Albright College).  Resident Scenic Artist for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. www.jbolendesign.com

David Turner (Director) is a 1993 graduate of RHS, where he played Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Mozart in Amadeus, and the Stage Manager in Our Town. He also had just two lines in Chess, one line in Anything Goes and gave a truly painful performance as the Head Winged Monkey in The Wiz. David sang with the All-State Chorus but was rejected by All-Eastern for his lousy chromatic scales. He was a Julia Meade Fellow, participated in the Maroon & White Recital series, and in 1992 was one of ten actors statewide selected for the Governor’s School of the Arts. Since receiving his BA from Williams College, where he majored in English and music, David has appeared on Broadway in plays and musicals by Tom Stoppard (Arcadia, The Invention of Love), Terrence McNally (The Ritz) and Stephen Sondheim (Sunday in the Park With George), followed by a starring role opposite Harry Connick Jr. in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. He has twice been nominated for a Helen Hayes Award and appeared on TV most recently as Justin Theroux’s psychiatrist on HBO’s, “The Leftovers.” David is an aviation enthusiast who is himself an instrument-rated commercial pilot. He also owns and manages a small airport in Pennsylvania called the Flying Dollar (8N4).