Board of Directors meet four times per year. March, June, September, December
Jo Ann Ventor - Executive Director and Executive Producer
Running a non-profit is not new to me! I started a small theatre company in a lake community back in 2008; starting with a group of 5 then ending with over 40, I knew I had found my passion. Thereafter, I formed a more local theatre company called Buzz Theatre Productions. For years of having my own children performing in local productions and with different theatre companies, I took an opportunity to partner in the former Rhino Theatre Group, LLC. After 6 years of a flourishing and successful partnership and weathering the storm of Covid and surviving, I decided to figure out my legacy and wanted to get back to my roots. Theatre is my passion, especially children's theatre and watching a child grow and develop a love of theatre, gives me such joy and purpose. Another passion is unique subject and interesting content in theatre in both plays and musicals and specifically those not-often-produced for an adult cast. My vision to bring affordable and meaningful theatre to our community and to combine philanthropic endeavors is my focus and hopefully a lasting legacy to reach and enrich many.
Vanessa Bluemke - Board Member
Vanessa has had a love of theatre since her childhood in New York City. She is thrilled to marry that passion with nearly two decades of Strategic Planning and Marketing experience to help StageWorks grow and achieve its mission in the community. She is currently the Senior Director of Strategy for the Joint Replacement division of Stryker, a Fortune 500 medical device company, where she has worked since 2010. She leads the strategic planning process and high-impact initiatives for the division, collaborating across functions and businesses to help achieve strategic goals and advance healthcare. Prior to 2010, Vanessa spent nearly eight years in various Marketing roles within the Estée Lauder Companies, bringing new products to market across several cosmetic brands and categories. She resides in Ridgewood, NJ with her husband and three children (all of whom have performed in various Rhino Theatre and Studio 237 productions). Since 2017, Vanessa has participated in several Rhino productions herself, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Pippin, and Absolutely Dead. Vanessa holds an MBA from the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College and a BS in Psychology from Mount Holyoke College.
Mafalda Cavanaugh - Board Member
Mafalda Cavanaugh is a communications professional and a life-long theatre lover. She is currently Marketing and PR Director for the American Theater Group. a professional theater company in Somerset County currently celebrating its tenth season. In addition, she serves as Marketing Chair and a member of the Board of Center Players, an award-winning community theater in downtown Freehold. Mafalda holds a BA in Theater and Communications from American University and resides in Manalapan with her husband and their three children, and in her free time loves attending both professional and community theatre and traveling.
Judi McDermott - Board Member
Judi McDermott lives in northern New Jersey with her husband and three children. As a child, her birthdays and school breaks included going to shows on Broadway. Birthdays spent watching Tommy Tune and Ann Reinking were the absolute best experiences! Judi's oldest son, Liam, has been engaged in theater for the pas eight years through school as well as Rhino Theatre and Judi is a proud "theater mom". She is also the Co-President of her younger children's Home School Association where she works with the school administration to create community building events. Judi is the owner and managing member of Gomperts Penza and McDermott, LLC where she has been practicing family law for over 22 years. Judi recently concluded a 15 year term on the Statewide Panel for the New Jersey Committee on Character for the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Judi is an avid runner and has completed 16 marathons - there is nothing better than a Peloton Broadway run to start the day! She looks forward to bringing her love of theater and community building to StageWorks at Studio 237.
Steven Ventor - Board Member
Steven Ventor has been a Construction Professional for the last 37 years and holds a BS in Architecture from Wentworth Institute of Technology. He is a principal in a Construction Management Firm that specializes in movie theater construction and operations which does business throughout the country. Steve is also the Founder and Managing Partner in Bowtie Management, a firm which specializes in managing properties, including movie theaters, restaurants, and entertainment centers. In his career, he has focused on setting up systems that create cost effective results along with superior operations and customer service. Steve enjoys traveling and golfing in his free time and also has developed a fondness of live theatre as his wife and one of his two daughters have actively been in the business for some time now.
Sam Franz - Office Manager & Social Media Coordinator
Sam Franz is a theatre artist who wears many hats. She has been working in theatre since she was young, first as an actor, and then eventually as a director, stage manager, producer, set designer, light designer, and more. She holds a BA in Communications (Radio, TV, Film) and English from The College of New Jersey, where she also minored in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. While there, she served as the President of All College Theatre, a student-run straight play organization, and the Vice President of improv troupe The Mixed Signals. After a brief stint as a high school English teacher, Sam began working in the office at Rhino Theatre and realized that theatrical work is the only kind that she enjoys. She now serves as the Office Manager and Social Media Coordinator for StageWorks Theatre Group, and continues to make theatre a part of her every day life. Some of her past directing credits have included Puffs, A Killing in King Arthur's Court, and Post-It's: Notes on a Marriage. She has served as the stage manager for several One Acts Festivals, recitals, ballets, and operas, and has recently been the production assistant for Rhino Theatre's productions of The Lightning Thief, Beauty and the Beast, Little Women, and The Wizard of Oz. Sam can typically be found at her desk, but she has been known to go home sometimes.
Benjamin Yates - Director of Education
Benjamin Yates is extremely grateful to be a director, music director, teacher, and the Director of Education here at StageWorks Theatre Group! He also works as a director, music director, and coach for Star Royale Theatre down the road! Ben brings nearly ten years of experience in overall musical theater performance and youth training in the arts. He studied at Seton Hall University where he graduated with a B.A. in Theatre Performance. Since then he has performed, directed, stage managed, and taught with companies all over the continent such as his family’s own Yates Musical Theatre, in addition to Missoula Children's Theatre, Stars Within Reach Productions, Aspire Performing Arts Company, Paper Mill Playhouse, Faith Center for the Arts, and Pelham Children’s Theater. His directorial productions include Tuck Everlasting, The Lightning Thief, Little Women, and most recently The Wizard of Oz. Ben trained and toured as a Tour Actor/Director with Missoula Children’s Theater, was Performing Arts Program Director at Camp Weequahic in Lakewood, PA and spent five years working as a teacher and a full-time Education Associate in the Paper Mill Playhouse’s Education Department. Along with teaching classes, private coaching, and mentoring families in the performing arts, he and his cousin Alex ran the Children’s Theatre on Tour Program, which brought a performing troupe of students to schools for children with disabilities, in addition to libraries and nursing homes. Ben is thrilled to be a part of this team and can’t wait to work with all of the StageWorks students, performers, and families!
Jordyn David - Special Events Manager
Jordyn is a born and raised theatre kid who loves all aspects of the art form. She started her theatrical career at the ripe age of 12 as a duckling in Honk! the Musical. Throughout the years, she has acted, directed, designed, and stage managed with theatre companies all over NJ. She holds a BA and MA in Theatre Studies from Montclair State University. Jordyn had been working with Stageworks since its creation in 2022, and you have probably seen her behind the sound board at some point. Some of her favorite credits include The Wizard of Oz (Director), Fun Home (Joan), Rock of Ages (Production Assistant), and Beauty and the Beast (Babette). When she is not at the studio, Jordyn can be found baking treats for the office staff.
Gina Buongiorno - Night Manager
With a love for all aspects of theatre, Gina has performed, directed, produced, and even worked a spotlight or two throughout the years. Her theatre journey started in high school and with decades of putting it on pause, she returned to it after leaving a successful career in pharmaceutical advertising. It was shortly after when she began working in the building that now houses StageWorks as Night Manager and the occasional House Manager. Gina is so excited to continue working at Studio 237 and be part of its success.