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ACT's Board of Directors

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Actors Conservatory Theatre is committed to a culture of inclusion and accessibility among its board, volunteers, artists, performers and patrons.  ACT engages, without discrimination, individuals and programming from diverse backgrounds and perspectives (including race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, socio-economic status, and artistic expression).

ACT's Board of Directors is a dedicated group of volunteers who participate in every aspect of the organization.  Some of our members have been with us since 1975.  We appreciate their commitment and hard work.  Our Board has helped us to endure for over 49 years.  Applause!  Applause!

Arlene Wendt, Founder

In 1975, Arlene had the idea to start a small theater company that could present a variety of plays.  She asked good friends Gail Gash and Carol Kerner to join her, and talked her husband Ernie into investing $1,000 in her idea - and Actors Conservatory Theatre was born.  Arlene led ACT as President and Treasurer for 47 years, until her passing in 2022.  Arlene was involved in the arts her entire life.  She directed over 100 plays, received many awards in business and theater, was a Yonkers native, an IBM retiree from corporate television advertising and promotion, a proud mother of Sally, Janice, and Nora, and grandmother to 8 beautiful people.  The ACT Executive Board is dedicated to honoring Arlene's legacy through their continued commitment to ACT.

      

Janice Paganelli - President

Janice is ACT’s President, Resident Choreographer, House Manager, and Co-Producer of ACT’s Junior Troupe.  She served as Secretary on ACT’s Board of Directors since 1975 before becoming its President in 2022.  A Yonkers native, Janice has performed in ACT's productions of Sweet Charity, West Side Story, Gypsy, Grease, They're Playing Our Song, original musicals Cycles and Castlelot (written by Arlene Wendt, with music by Cary Bair and Sally Wendt), and was part of the ACT Godspell touring company, and Falling Rock Zone Comedy Improv Troupe.  Janice was a Resident Choreographer for Fort Salem Summer Stock Theatre and has choreographed for many area theatre companies and high schools.  She created the dances for most of ACT's musicals, including ACT's Junior Troupe productions.  Janice studied dance with Broadway Dance Center in NYC, Peter Humphrey, and Joan Marlowe.  She is the Site Supervisor for the Croton Academy of Arts Afterschool Program and Co-Coordinator of the Golden Eagles Senior Center at St. Augustine Church in Ossining.

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Sally Fitz - Treasurer

Sally Fitz - a Yonkers native – coordinates ACT’s fundraising, grant writing, and finances. She is also the Program Administrator for the ACT Presents… Original Works series, which began in 2019 with a staged reading of her original screenplay, Cake and Candles.  In the 1970’s and ‘80’s, Sally served on ACT’s Executive Board and performed in ACT’s mainstage productions, including Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, and Castlelot (an original musical by Arlene Wendt, with music by Cary Bair and Sally).  In the 1980's, she was a member of ACT’s Godspell touring company and Falling Rock Zone improvisation troupe.  During her 30 year hiatus from theater, Sally worked in behavioral health, higher education, and she and her husband owned and operated an organic fruit and vegetable farm.  Sally was delighted to return to ACT’s board in 2019.  It is an honor and a privilege to serve with such dedicated, talented and delightful people! 

Julia LaVerde - Secretary

Julia LaVerde, a Yonkers native, is ACT's resident Stage Manager. She has been a part of the ACT family since 2006.  Julia has stage managed over 20 shows for ACT, and has fostered collaborations with other local theater groups including Westchester Collaborative Theatre and GoJo Clan Productions. A Jill-of-all-trades, she has had a hand in all technical aspects of theatre production – set construction, costumes, sound and lighting.  Julia is now taking on the new challenge of directing, and has a particular penchant for dramas and original works thanks to working with incredible directors like Arlene Wendt. When she's not working backstage, Julia spends her days working behind a computer as an office manager, delving into literary adventures, attempting a variety of craft projects, and bringing as much magic and sparkle into her life as possible. Julia resides in Irvington NY with her wife Keira, and their cat-gremlin Smudge.

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Robin Lloyd - Artistic Director

Robin is ACT's resident artist and graphic designer, lending her talent and creativity to our playbills, flyers, promotional materials, set designs, and set decoration for many of our shows. Some favorites amongst her most recent set designs include Seussical, The Shawshank Redemption, Nice Work If You Can Get It, and The Little Mermaid. She also serves as co-producer of ACT's Junior Troupe and is involved in many aspects of the theatre operation - from promotion to painting, to theatre set up, to sweeping floors!  In the past, she has danced in many of ACT's musicals and was a member of our Murder Mystery troupe, which raised thousands of dollars for community organizations. Robin has served on the ACT Executive Board since 1982.

Carmela Sirico - Ticketing Systems Manager

After retiring from IBM Corporation, Carmela started a second career as a realtor with Keller Williams NY Realty in White Plains.  Theatre has always been a major part of her life.  She has been active in community/regional theatre throughout Westchester, Fairfield and NYC.   With ACT, she was cast in their first musical production of West Side Story in 1975, performed in ACT's touring production of Godspell, and has performed in Sister Act, Best Little Whorehouse, Honk!, Songs from the Homefront, 9 to 5, Nanny Claus, Footloose and ACT's Murder Mystery Troupe.  She has co-produced many shows and you can find her in the box office for most shows.  Off season, Carmela loves the game of golf.  She lives in White Plains with husband, Russ (also an ACT alum). Her son Danny, his wife, Ki Lee Mak, and grandchildren Francesco and Lily Grace also live in Westchester.  Her dream is to pass on her love for theatre to both of them; a very strong possibility they will be Jr Troupe members! 

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MaryAnn Mallozzi - Volunteer Coordinator

A retired Teacher in NYC’s Board of Education, with an MS in Elementary Ed, K-6 for over 35 years, and grandparent of four, MaryAnn has devoted her time to appearing in comedies, dramas & musicals with many theater groups in Westchester, calling ACT her home. Serving as a Board member since 2009, she’s an actor who assisted with house managing duties, co-producing, coordinating the volunteers, and serving as a liaison with Arts Westchester. Her ACT roles include Fiddler on the Roof, Nunsense, Grease, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Moonlight & Magnolias, The Wedding Singer, You Can’t Take it With YouLost in Yonkers as Grandma Kurnitz in May, 2019, and  in November, 2023, playing Sr. Mary Theresa, in the musical comedy, Sister Act.

Keira Ferguson - Lighting Designer

Keira Ferguson is the resident Lighting Designer for ACT.  She started back in 2008 with Shenandoah, hanging lights and running the board during shows for other designers.   Arlene, Janice and Armand gave her the opportunity to design a couple of shows starting with The Adventures of the Christmas Elf, in 2010 and Songs from the Homefront in 2012.  Keira created the lighting for You Can't Take it With You in 2014 and all ACT productions since then.  Keira is operational manager for a theatrical and studio lighting shop in Yonkers and currently resides in Irvington with her amazing wife, Julia, who happens to be ACT's resident stage manager.  Actors Conservatory Theatre isn't just a place.  The amazing people that make up this group are like a second family and Keira is excited and honored to be a part of the board to help continue everything that they stand for and create.

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Jillian Paganelli - Alumni Outreach/Production Assistant

Jillian Paganelli has been part of ACT since birth.  She has worked in almost every aspect of ACT's productions since childhood - tickets, set decoration, house managing, concessions, production assistant, marketing, backstage, etc., which has resulted in the unofficial official title of "Everything Girl."  Jill’s truest love is dance.  She has been dancing since she was 3 years old, and has been Dance Captain for ACT's main stage productions of Footloose, West Side Story & Sister Act, to name a few.  She was part of the original ACT's Junior Troupe productions, including Damn Yankees, The Boyfriend and Seussical. Although ACT is Jill’s “happy place,” she splits her time working as a behavioral feeding specialist and as a home organizational consultant.  Jill is committed to continuing ACT’s mission and believes the quality, openness, goodness and all around sparkly magic of ACT exists uniquely due to the community that has been cultivated throughout the past 49 years.  ACT is single-handedly responsible for overflowing Jill with her greatest friendships and a lifetime supply of “laugh til it hurts” moments.  She is so grateful to sit on the Board of Directors with the most hard-working, dedicated, creative and kind humans. Jill is proud to honor the legacy left behind by her trailblazer grandmother, Arlene Wendt. 

Brian Crowley - Marketing/Social Media Manager

Brian has proudly been an active member of the ACT family since 2012, having volunteered his time in all aspects of the company. While his first time on the ACT stage was in the Junior Troupe's production of Legally Blonde as an uncredited "Bend and Snap" guy, he was later fully credited for his roles in Footloose (2016), West Side Story (2018), and The Shawshank Redemption (2021). Behind the scenes, Brian has co-designed several sets with fellow board member Robin. Some of his favorites include Seussical (2020), The Shawshank Redemption (2021), and The Little Mermaid (2024). He is particularly proud of the wonderful ACT “Art Department” of community volunteers that he and Robin have helped to cultivate. Brian formally serves as ACT's resident photographer and social media producer, roles that he also fulfills professionally for the Mount Sinai Health System. He is incredibly honored to be a part of the ACT legacy, keeping the "good things happening!"

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Linda FItzgerald - Front of House Support

Linda has been involved with theatre since middle school, both on stage and behind the scenes.  She has had the enriching experience of directing musicals with young people (4th - 12th grade) for 15 years, and believes that musical theatre is invaluable to the development of our youth.  Linda continues to enjoy performing and has appeared on ACT's stage in several productions, including The Wedding Singer, Gypsy, Fiddler on the Roof, Lend Me a Tenor, You Can't Take It With You, and the original screenplay stage adaptation of Cake and Candles.  She is very happy to be part of the team that makes the magic of ACT.

Anna Prestopino - Inventory Management

Anna Prestopino first joined ACT in 2016 helping a friend as a spotlight operator for ACT’s Footloose. She was immediately enamored with this group and the people involved, and has been with ACT ever since. While she can usually be found Assistant Stage Managing most of ACT’s productions nowadays, she also dabbles in Stage Managing and prop-making, as well as working back behind a spotlight every now and then. Since getting her start with Preston High School’s Preston Players, some of her other experience includes Local Celebrity Theater in the Bronx, Westchester Broadway Theater, and Theater O in Ossining, as well as revisiting her alma mater to mentor their stage crew. During the day she works in Development for a non-profit private school in the Bronx. She is grateful beyond words to be a part of the ACT family. When not working on a show, she loves blasting showtunes in the car, having game nights with family and friends, listening to e-books, and binge watching the same shows over and over with her fiance.

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Steven Baerga - Technical Support

Steven Baerga - or "Steven B" - has been an active member of ACT since he joined our Junior Troupe production of Honk! back in 2009.  Steven continued to participate in ACT’s Junior Troupe and mainstage productions.  From the very first moment he walked in the door at ACT, Steven has always felt right at home. ACT has always been something that aligns with what Steven would like to see more of in this world:  after so many years and many challenges, ACT has proven that through the integrity and support, it can weather any storm and come back even stronger. With a BFA in Film and Video Production from City College, Steven is working towards a career as an independent filmmaker. Steven would like to thank the rest of the board for giving him a seat at the table, and he is looking forward to great things to come. 

Amanda Marano - Volunteer Coordinator

Amanda's journey with ACT began in 2011, and since then, it's become her second home. Over the past 13 years, she's performed in 12 productions in both the Junior Troupe and main stage casts. Some of her favorite shows include Godspell (2012), 9 to 5 (2015), and Singin’ In The Rain (2017). Born and raised in the Bronx, she attended New York University to study Media and Communications with a focus on the Business of Entertainment. She now works in music wearing many hats including licensing, label relations, partnerships, sync, and more. She enjoys plays, musicals, concerts, and performances of all kinds, and credits that appreciation to her upbringing at ACT.  Amanda is very excited to join the board and support a group of the most brilliant, kind, and talented people she's had the pleasure of working with. ACT has always held a very special place in her heart. It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of the ACT family and continue serving this wonderful community.

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Janice, Robin, and Carmela photos by Marietta Fitz.

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