The New Jersey Association of Community Theaters (NJACT) is a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting local theater around the state. The group’s core mission is to celebrate outstanding achievements by artists of all disciplines involved in the performance and production of New Jersey Community Theater. This is accomplished through the NJACT Perry Awards, New Jersey’s premiere community theater awards program. Originally founded as the AVY Awards over 35 years ago by William Perry Morgan, the organization has transformed itself several times, but has always kept its focus on celebrating creativity, craftsmanship and community in local theater.
Today, NJACT is led by a volunteer board of directors. These theater veterans are aided by over 100 volunteers across the state. Together, they work to identify the best and the brightest that New Jersey community theater has to offer and celebrate their work with an awards ceremony every fall.
Board of Directors
PJ is no stranger to Community Theater. Being a part of multiple theaters, including Performance with Passion Players, First Ave, SVP, and Premiere, to name a few, PJ been both behind and on stage for many shows. Being behind the scenes, PJ has staged managed, ran and design lighting and sound, Assisted directed, Directed, and ran tech for many shows. Not only being behind scenes, PJ has also performed many shows including: Cinderella (SVP), Cuckoo’s Nest (Both at ORTP and SVP), It’s A Wonderful Life (ORPT and SVP), Fiddler on the Roof (Premier), and Marvin’s Room (First Ave), to name a few. PJ is extremely happy to be on the board of NJACT with these amazing people.
Alissa is a graduate of Kean University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education, Voice Concentration. By day, she is an Elementary Music Teacher at Hurden Looker School in Hillside where she teaches Instrumental, Choral and General Music. She was bit by the “theatre bug” back in 3rd grade while performing as the 4th Child in “The Pied Piper”. After high school, she jumped into Community Theatre with Linden Summer Playhouse. She has since performed with Cranford Dramatic Club, Mystic Vision Players, Villagers Theatre, Westfield Community Players, Fearless Productions, Union County Performing Arts Center and Playhouse 22. Alissa serves on the Board of Trustees of Mystic Vision Players where she currently holds the office of Secretary. Her favorite roles include Maggie in “42nd Street”, Sarah in “Company” and the Housekeeper in “Man of La Mancha”.
Rita is proud to be a member of NJACT. Rita was selected as a Woman of Excellence in Arts and Humanities by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Commission on the Status of Women in Union County. In addition to serving as Treasurer for NJACT, Rita is also a member of the Mystic Vision Players Board of Directors. There she acts as Producer for most of their productions. She has received nominations for Perry Awards six times for musicals and original productions. In 2002 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from NJACT for her volunteer work in theater, dance, and community service. As a high school teacher, she moderated the Performing Arts Club and produced at least 40 shows, choreographing at least a dozen of them. Rita has appeared in American Rapture, singing duets with her husband and with Patrick Starega, but she is mostly known for 40 years of her Christmas Eve Open House where she cooks all the food for at least 150 people. Her cooking expertise has led her to appear on Cooking Live and Sarah’s Secrets on the Food Network, where she was named the “Sauce Queen” of New Jersey, the Food Network’s Choice for Spaghetti Sauce. Her cookbooks La Dolce Vita and Next Door to the Chicken Market contain recipes of all the food she makes on Christmas Eve and much more! Rita would like to congratulate her daughter, Barbara Greco Brady, who has been named NJ Dance Teacher of the Year and Eastern Regional Dance Teacher of the Year, and who most recently was named 2nd place National Dance Teacher of the Year.
Secretary and Reviewer Liaison
A life-long passion for Music and Musical Theater has led Donna to dedicate herself to achievement as a performing artist, an educational leader and state-wide advocate for the Fine & Performing Arts. With early voice and piano training at Juilliard, a degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and a Masters in Arts Administration from the College of New Jersey, Donna has been afforded the opportunity to mentor and support students, teachers and aspiring artists throughout an exciting career. She was Founder/Director of both “Studio 7,” for Music and Theater instruction, and “5 Grand” Musical Theater Repertory Ensemble. She has served as Supervisor of Fine & Performing Arts in Linden and Director of Fine & Performing Arts in Franklin Township collaborating with 56 faculty members in 9 schools in the related disciplines of Music, Dance, Theater, Art, and Television Production. Under her leadership, the Franklin Public School District was awarded “Model Schools for Excellence” in Arts Education by the New Jersey State “Arts in Education Partnership.” Favorite diverse, on-stage roles include Maria Von Trapp (Sound of Music,) Aldonza (Man of LaMancha,) Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady) and most recently, Sister Mary Hubert (Nunsense.) “Behind the scenes” roles include producing, directing, choreographing, composing and on-going Arts advocacy. Donna is greatly excited about her newest role as a contributing member of the NJACT Board.
Director of Communications
Elizabeth is a graduate of Montclair State University with a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance, where she was a Presser Scholar and held several leadership positions in Sigma Alpha Iota, including the office of President. In August 2022, she will receive her Masters in Higher Education Administration and Leadership from William Paterson University. By day, she is the Teaching and Administrative Assistant to the Music Department at Mercer County Community College, where she also previously served as the Director of Voice for the Tomato Patch Performing Arts Summer Workshop for 13 years.. Behind the scenes, she has been the Music Director for Bugsy Malone, Jr., High School Musical 2, Jr., Camp Rock, and Zombie Prom, produced at Kelsey Theater on the Mercer County Community College campus in conjunction with Tomato Patch and the Kelsey Players. She most recently made her Kelsey Theatre directorial debut, directing and musical directing Frozen, Jr. in February/March 2020, to sold-out houses. An active performer in musicals in the tristate area, favorite roles include Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins), Peter Pan (Peter Pan), Maria (The Sound of Music), Mabel (The Pirates of Penzance), Anna (The King & I), Ida (Honk!—2007 NJACT Best Actress in a Musical Nominee), Marian Paroo (The Music Man), Luisa (The Fantasticks), Narrator (Joseph…), Sarah (Guys & Dolls), Lily Craven (The Secret Garden), Julie Jordan (Carousel), Beth March (Little Women), Laurey (Oklahoma), Polly Peachum (The Threepenny Opera), Cinderella (Into the Woods), Rosa Bud/Deirdre Peregrine (The Mystery of Edwin Drood — 2020 NJACT Best Actress in a Musical nominee), Mother (A Christmas Story). She has also appeared onstage as Mollie Ralston (The Mousetrap), Hermia (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Katarina Cavalieri (Amadeus – 2015 NJACT Best Supporting Actress in a Play Nominee), Mariette Levieux (The Dinner Party), and Chelsea Thayer Wayne (On Golden Pond). She won the 2013 NJACT Perry Award for Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of The Ghost of Christmas Past in Scrooge the Musical at the Algonquin Arts Theatre.
Stephen J. Seserko III
Technical Media Specialist
Starting in 2009, Stephen took an interest in all things technical theatre related, running sound for his first show, “Brigadoon,” a school production at Woodstown High School. He immediately fell in love with theatre at his very first rehearsal. It wasn’t long before Stephen became obsessed with learning all that he could about what makes a theatrical production successful, and has directed, acted, and designed many shows using this knowledge. Stephen is currently the Technical Director for his alma mater, Woodstown High School, where he teaches students about every aspect of technical theatre, instilling that same passion that got him hooked. He can be found acting in various productions across New Jersey, including his favorite past roles as The Baker (Into the Woods), The Old Man (A Christmas Story), Seitz/Ensemble (Newsies), and Gaston in the 2019 NJACT “Outstanding Production of a Musical” Perry Award winner, “Beauty and the Beast,” at Off Broad Street Players. Stephen can also be found running technical elements for shows, including his 2019 NJACT “Outstanding Lighting Design of a Play” Perry Award winning work on “The Crucible” at Cumberland Players. He is excited to bring his passion and knowledge of South Jersey theatre to the proverbial “table” that is the NJACT board!