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, holding a B.S. in Education & English and a M.A. in English Education. 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, and Secret in the Wings. Louisa’s first children’s book, Your Best Coaches, will be published in November 2012.Visit www.LouisaLuisi.com for more information.
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 students and fellow collaborators, especially Dr. Schaefer, Louisa Luisi and Jennifer Landa. 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 and Rehearsal For Murder. She is especially excited to work on the hysterical comedy, Comic Potential this spring. 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. She continues collaborating with fellow NPC alum, Laurie Sales, with whom she created the play Missing/Captured. Kelly also teaches executive communications skills for Exec-Comm. She recently moved from NYC with her actor husband, Andrew and son, Leopold and currently lives within walking distance of this said sacred space.
Jason Bohon is an actor, director, and teaching artist living in New York City. He enjoys working with the students at New Players Company, having recently directed THE DROWSY CHAPERONE and THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST. He is a member of the Split Knuckle Theatre Company, who's latest devised play, ENDURANCE, has toured from New York to London, Paris, Brussels, Bangkok, Athens, and the Netherlands. This fall, he will direct Alan Ayckbourn's BEDROOM FARCE at Albright College in Reading, PA, and in the spring he will be an Adjunct Professor of Theatre at the University of Central Missouri, where he received a B.F.A. degree in Theatre Performance and a B.A. degree in English Literature. He also holds an M.F.A. degree in Physical Theatre from the London International School of Performing Arts. When not acting or directing, Jason teaches executive communication skills for Exec-Comm. He appreciates Kelly Van Zile for bringing him into New Players Company, and thanks the entire New Players Company for welcoming him back each year!
Gary Fink 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. Mr. Fink is the director of Jazz and Percussion at Ridgewood High School. He has performed in or conducted the pit orchestra of over 130 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. On the audio side, Mr. Fink has also 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, and mixed sound effects and music for over 75 STAR TREK™ Audiobooks for Simon & Schuster. He teaches sound recording and music courses at William Paterson University, does audiobook editing for Audible.com, and has a freelance recording business.
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 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.
NATE HAMM - Hailing from DeSales University, Nate is happy to be joining New Players for his first 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.
Jennifer and Tony Landa – “Team Landa” is 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.
Barbara Noto has served as the administrative assistant for the theatre program during the academic year for many years. She handles the box office and front of house details and is an invaluable partner to the staff and students.