About Us

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.

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Board of Directors

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Patrick Starega

President

Patrick has performed, directed and choreographed all over the state including Fearless Productions, 4th Wall, Villagers, Livingston Community Players, Marlboro Community Players, Sayreville Main Street, Westfield Community Players and many others. A graduate of Drew University, Patrick has staged such shows as Fiddler On The Roof for the Union County Arts Center, South Pacific, Big River, and A Wonderful Life for the Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee, Pa, as well as March of the Falsettos, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Cradle Will Rock, Once Upon A Mattress, Tomfoolery and West Side Story at many theaters around NJ. Patrick has directed, choreographed and/or held leading roles in several professional family theaters featuring such shows as Charlotte’s Web, Schoolhouse Rock- Live!, Popeye, Narnia, The Wizard of Oz, Treasure Island (world premiere musical), Winnie the Pooh Christmas Carol (world premiere musical) and Stuart Little to name a few. He also choreographed the critically acclaimed production of Pageant at the Forum Theatre in 2002 (in addition to its two month run at the Cuillo Arts Center in West Palm Beach, FL) as well as playing “Marcus Lycus” in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and “Eddie/Dr. Scott” in the 2003 production of Rocky Horror Live! Patrick made his NYC debut in Reefer Madness the Concert at Joe’s Pub starring Alan Cumming and Ana Gasteyer. As an AEA Stage Manager, Patrick’s experiences include most notably, Come Fly With Me starring Bruce Adler and Confessions of Stepin Fetchit starring Roscoe Orman to name a few. Luna Stage, Premiere Stages, The Forum Theatre and The National Black Theatre of Harlem are some of the wonderful theaters he has been lucky to have experienced as an AEA PSM. Patrick previously served as Secretary, Vice-President, nd President on the NJACT Board.

PJ Campacci

Vice President

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.

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Rita Greco

Treasurer

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.

Amy Levine

Recording Secretary

Amy is a founding member of N.J.A.C.T she was active on the board prior when it was R.E.C.T and A.C.T. With Perry Morgan, Ken Paris, and Andy Gordanier. She also was the event planner and past President until 2014. She delighted to be back on the board to help with her good friends. Amy has been involved in community theater for over 20 years, as an actor and director. She has directed memorable shows such as “Five Women Wearing the same Dress,” “As Bees in Honey Drown,” “Mr. 80%,” “Beau Jest,” A Christmas Story,” “Love, Sex and the IRS,” “Twilight of the Golds,” Visit Mr. Green,” and many others. She also directed musicals such as “Pirates of Penzance,” “1776,” and Two by Two.” Amy is also performed in roles such as are Pam in “The Uninvited,” Annie Golden in “Leader of the Pack,” Gilmer in “Godspell,” Edith in “Pirates of Penzance,” Trina in “Falsettos (Perry Award Winner),” Catherine in “Pippin, and Martha Jefferson in “1776,” Baker’s Wife in “Into the Woods,” Mama Eurlie in “Once on This Island,” and many others.

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Lori Fabian

Vice President of Development

President, Fabian Consulting, Inc. has been a professional grants manager, writer, and counselor since 1990. She has helped nonprofit organizations raise over $64 million in foundation, corporate, and government support. Also a specialist in outcome measurement and program evaluation, Ms. Fabian has provided external evaluation for federal, state, and major Foundation-funded programs in Louisiana, New Jersey, and New York. A frequent provider of training and technical assistance in both grantsmanship and program evaluation, Ms. Fabian was the inaugural recipient of the New Jersey/New York Girl Scout Training Cluster’s annual Compass Award for Excellence and Leadership in Learning Facilitation.

On the performance side, Lori has over thirty-five years of experience in musical performance, musical direction, stage performance, and stage management. A graduate of Loyola University of New Orleans College of Music, she was a 2010 Perry Nominee for her performance of Clairee in Steel Magnolias at Villagers Theatre and a recipient of its 2016 Hall of Fame Awards. Other favorite roles have included the title role of Mame at the Bay St. Louis Little Theatre in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi; Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof at Main Street Theatre in Sayreville; Ann Putnam in The Crucible at Playhouse 22 in East Brunswick, and Phoebe Reece in The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol at Circle Players in Piscataway. Lori has been Musical Director for shows such as Camelot, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Red Mill, and Annie in California and New Orleans. She was also a professional stage manager and assistant director for The Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and the New Orleans Opera Association (where she met her husband Michael backstage during a production of Verdi’s Aida.)

Donna Serio

Reviewer Liason

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.

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Elizabeth Rzasa

Director of Social Media & Correspondence

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. By day, she is the Teaching and Administrative Assistant to the Music Department at Mercer County Community College, where she also is the Director of Voice for the Tomato Patch Performing Arts Summer Workshop. 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., 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/Dierdre 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!

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Alissa Valiante

Member-at-Large

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”.