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 Luisi is one of the New Players Company resident directors and an RHS English teacher. 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 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, and Footloose. Louisa is also a writer, and her first children’s book, Your Best Coaches, was published in November 2012. 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 an actor, director and '92 Ridgewood High School graduate. 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 and The Crucible. She is really looking forward to this particular season. Dr. Meg Schaefer directed Kelly in Stage Door back when Kelly was a New Player herself! She is also excited to work on The Wiz. On the musical, Kelly will continue collaborating with her fellow amazing colleagues, Jennifer Landa and Gary Fink, and start working with Steven Bourque. 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 teaches executive communications skills for Exec-Comm. She recently moved from NYC with her actor husband, Andrew, and son, Leopold. They are thrilled to announce the arrival of the youngest Newp in the family, Dabney Van Zile Grusetskie!
TONY CAPONE is delighted to be a part of the Ridgewood HS New Company 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.
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 over 135 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, does audiobook editing for Audible.com, 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 three curricular vocal ensembles and four co-curricular vocal ensembles. He also instructs AP Music Theory and Music Rewind. He served as the Musical Director for Aida and Footloose with the New Players Company. Steven graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Music Education. Steven and his wife Erika became parents last year to daughter Madelyn.
Elizabeth Maxwell has served as Musical Director, Orchestra Conductor, Co-Musical Director, Pianist, Synthesizer Programmer and Junior Company Supervisor in collaboration with talented New Players’ directors Rachael Daum, Dennis Carroll, Hal Maxwell, Lori Barnett, and Meg Schaefer and conductors Jeffrey Haas and Gary Fink from 1987 to 2004. Productions included shows from A Chorus Line to You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown as well as many Stephen Sondheim shows – A Little Night Music, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along, Side By Side By Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, West Side Story. In 2010 Elizabeth returned as Musical Director/Pianist for Drood, directed by Meg Schaefer. Elizabeth asked her former piano/vocal student – John Judge – to assist with the production and thus “Team Judgewell” was created. Additional collaborations with Kelly Van Zile, Jennifer and Tony Landa and Louisa Luisi have included New Players In Concert, A Chorus Line, Songs For A Summer Night and Guys and Dolls. Elizabeth has been a professional musician for over 40 years and has played for over 125 productions.
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 is now his NPC co-musical director. 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 Ridgewood firefighter and Valley Hospital paramedic, he loves to spend his free time working as co-musical director (NPC in Concert) 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.
GREG SOLOMON is happy to be designing his eighth show with New Players. Recent designs: Peter Pan (Berkshire Theatre Festival), I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, Shipwrecked!, 1940’s Radio Hour (Cortland Repertory Theatre), Anything Goes, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Fiddler on the Roof, Les Miserables (Little Theatre on the Square), Laughter on the 23rd Floor (New London Barn Playhouse), Urinetown (CAP21), I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Montgomery Theater), Showdown and Vegas The Show (Norwegian Sky cruise ship). Recent assistant lighting design credits: Miss Saigon (Starlight U.S. Tour), Bunty Berman Presents (The New Group), and The North Pool (The Vineyard Theatre). Training: SUNY Purchase College. www.ghsolomon.com