ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Matt Okin
Matt Okin (Artistic Director), founded Black Box Studios in 2007 and opened The Black Box Performing Arts Center in November 2015. Recent directing credits include: a new production of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Fuddy Meers, Othello (part of free Shakespeare in the Park in Bergen County); Sweat; How to Transcend a Happy Marriage; Significant Other; Spring Awakening; Hair; Talk Radio; Griller; Peer Gynt; Buried Child; Hand To God; Heathers: High School Edition (teens); Disgraced; Cloud 9; Skip & Rivkah's Not-So-Kosher Interactive Wedding Experience; The Goat Or, Who Is Sylvia?; Blood Brothers; Evil Dead The Musical; Bad Jews; RMTI's production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street; True Groove Productions' Diana & Navy & The Golden Tooth (workshop); The Pillowman; and Passing Strange (all at BBPAC); the Off-Broadway premiere of This Time, A New Musical Romance (at Theater For The New City & BBPAC); the BBS Ensemble's Falsettos "In Concert," House Of Blue Leaves, and Next To Normal (bergenPAC), among many others. Matt's original musicals include: Out Of Whack: The All-Kids Rock Musical (devised, at Theater For The New City), Soul Searching (45th Street Theater, DR2 Theater, D-Lounge, and the NYMF), Generations (various NYC venues and NYMF), and A Match Made In Manhattan: The Interactive Jewish Wedding Experience (NYC and national tours). His original plays, produced both in New York and on national tours, include: Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, One Innocent Woman, Second Chances, Twist Of Faith, Walter Liked To Sit In His Big Backyard, Cherry Hill, The Ugly Wife, and Pigs. Matt received a BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University's Tisch School Of The Arts. He has two daughters, Rachel and Arielle.

BLACK BOX REPERTORY COMPANY MEMBERS

 
Michael Gardiner Michael Gardiner (Managing Director) is proud to be the Co-Managing Director of The Black Box Performing Arts Center. He is a professional actor, director, and teaching artist working in NJ and NY. Michael holds a BA in Theatre Arts (Acting Concentration) and Communication from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

As an actor, he has been a mainstay of Black Box PAC, as well as performed regionally and in NYC. Select Black Box Credits: Pygmalion (Henry Higgins), Othello (Iago), ...Cuckoo’s Nest (RP McMurphy), Hand to God (Jason/Tyrone), Buried Child (Dodge), Sweat (Jason). Off-off Broadway: ...Rise of the Goatman (Theater for the New City). Other Regional Credits: The Importance of Being Earnest (Algernon) at the Philipstown Depot Theatre, Hamlet (Horatio) with Hudson Theatre Works, Love/Sick with Women’s Theatre Co., The Taming of the Shrew (Petruchio) with Hudson Shakespeare Co. He also volunteers and collaborates with the Instant Shakespeare Co. in NYC in free unabridged readings of Shakespeare plays.

Michael spearheaded the Black Box PAC’s Shakespeare in the Park touring productions. Since Summer 2018, two Shakespeare plays toured in repertory to various Bergen County parks, including Votee Park in Teaneck. The productions feature dynamic staging, diverse casts, and vibrant social commentary. Since its inception, he’s directed Twelfth Night and Romeo & Juliet (BroadwayWorld NJ WINNER Best Touring Production 2019). Romeo & Juliet featured two women as the star-crossed lovers. Michael performed as Iago in Othello, and Macbeth in Macbeth--both productions featuring strong racial and feminist themes. 

He has assistant-directed Stephan Marcellus (of NBC’s “The Voice”) in Spring Awakening. He’s also directed with The Theater Project. He dramaturged/voice coached with Daya Arts’ production of Vaisravana-- an Indian classical dance piece which premiered in Washington DC at the Prakriti Dance “Festival of Villains.”

Michael is also a teaching artist, having taught various populations, including adults with special needs. He works regularly with Arts Horizons, Yeshivat Noam, and with YACHAD’s improv workshop for adults with special needs. As a private acting teacher, he provides audition prep services, and in particular, he teaches theatre to students with special needs.

www.michael-gardiner.com
 
Sara Giacomini Sara Giacomini (Education Director & Administrative Director) is honored to be a member of the Black Box Repertory Company. Sara is also an actor and teaching artist at Black Box. She is a graduate of Farleigh Dickinson University, where she earned her BA in Musical Theatre. She has appeared in numerous Black Box productions, most recently playing Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. Past teaching credits at Black Box PAC include: Musical Theatre Kids Workshop (Wonderland, The Secret Garden, Into the Woods JR.) and Drama Kids (James and the Giant Peach). Other teaching credits include: George Street Playhouse and Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts. "Never apologize for your art." saragiacomini.com
 
Cassandra Guglielmo Cassandra Guglielmo has been involved with the Black Box community since fall of 2018 and is extremely thankful to be a part of the Black Box Repertory Company. She has been involved in the arts since the age of six. She has been professionally acting and teaching children's musical theater, drama, and dance classes since graduating from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in February of 2018.
 
Danielle MacMath Danielle MacMath (Managing Director) is an actor, singer, and educator in the NJ/NYC area. She is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, earning her BA in Literature and Theatre Arts (Musical Theatre Concentration), as well as her M.A. in Teaching.

Danielle began performing with Black Box Performing Arts Center in 2016. After volunteering in other aspects of the theater, she and her peers founded the BBPAC Repertory Company. Danielle serves as the Co-Managing Director, while continuing to perform in various shows. Select Black Box Credits: Spring Awakening (Wendla), Junie B. Jones: The Musical (May/Grace/Mother), Romeo & Juliet (Benvolio), Hair (Jeanie), and Othello (Emilia). Danielle also traveled with the Black Box Rep Co. to NYC, where she performed in Soul Searching (at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe) and ...Rise of the Goatman (at Theater for the New City).

Other credits include include Cymbeline (Powerhouse Theater Apprentice Company), The Polar Express Train Ride (Whippany, NJ), and most recently HERstory, an educational tour about influential women in history. The show is performed for schools in NJ, as well as select community give-back performances during Women’s History Month.

When she is not working in Theater, Danielle works part time as a substitute teacher for NJ public schools and volunteers with the Kimberly A. Nelson Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships for students in the arts.

www.DanielleMacMath.com
 
 

TEACHING ARTISTS

 
Ilana Schimmel Ilana Schimmel is an actress, director, dramaturg and teaching artist based in the NJ/NYC area. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies from Montclair State University where she truly developed her love for the arts. Notable performances include: 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee, In the Heights, Legally Blonde, The Crucible, The Glass Menagerie, Dog Sees God, The Shape of Things, Proof, and Dracula. She taught for 7 years as a counselor at Center Stage Musical Theater Camp in Tenafly, NJ, where she worked to create a Broadway-style musical in three weeks that included workshops in acting, movement, dance, voice and improvisation. She also has been coaching with Kiddie Soccer for the past 3 years where she developed a series of fun, thematic games designed to teach children the basics of soccer in a fun and physical environment. Ilana anticipates that through performances at Black Box, students will develop their confidence, communication, and performance skills by working together as an ensemble.
 
Christina Cruz Christina Cruz is thrilled to be teaching at Black Box Pac. After graduating from Florida State University with a Bachelors Degree in English and Psychology, she decided to go back to school for Musical Theatre at Florida School of the Arts. While still living in St. Augustine, Christina choreographed, directed, and performed in several mainstage shows at The Limelight Theatre. She also choreographed several of The Limelight Theatre's Kidz Factory productions which included Fiddler on the Roof, Jr., Willy Wonka, Jr., Guys and Dolls, Jr., Starstruck!, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin, Jr. Christina attended Montclair State University where she received her MA in Theatre Studies. Most recently, Christina choreographed Aladdin, Jr. and Annie, Jr. for Dover Middle School. She directed and choregraphed Aladdin, Kids for Edgemont Elementary School, Brookdale Elementary School's Dream Big Showcase, and The Lion King, Jr. at the Black Box Pac Performing Arts Center. This past summer, Christina's choreography was featured in the Musical Theatre Conservatory's 2019 Summer Showcase at the Symphony Space Theatre. She is thrilled to be able to share her passion for musical theatre with the students at Black Box!
 
Leora Hyman Leora Hyman is a Rutgers Theater Arts grad and long-time alum of Black Box, where she started performing when still in middle school and has since appeared in countless productions - student, semi-pro, and professional. Leora has taught and directed kids and teens throughout Bergen County and beyond, and also teaches classes for the Paper Mill Playhouse.
 
 

STAFF

 
   
 
  Michael Gurin (Director of Special Projects/Writer)
 
Robert Parmelee Robert Parmelee (Web) Rob has over 25 years of theater and ticketing experience. He worked for The Shubert Organization (New York, NY) for 18 years- first as a call center manager for Telecharge.com, then as a member of the IT Department. Rob now works as Web Administrator for the Roundabout Theatre Company (New York, NY).
 
   
 
  Yossi Sasson (BDD Bookkeeping)