Founded in 2015, Vanguard Theater Company is a 501 (c) 3 not for profit arts organization committed to producing transformational theater with an emphasis on D.R.E.A.M - Diversity, Reciprocity, Education, Awareness, and Mentorship.

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STAFF

Jessica joined Vanguard after 20 years with Gas Lamp Players, which she incorporated as a not for profit in 2007 and helped grow to a robust, year-round performing arts company in residence in the Glen Ridge School District.

 

In her years with Gas Lamp Players, she developed a strong reputation as an arts leader, creating a legacy of excellence and community involvement through producing musicals, developing educational and scholarship programs, and contributing to enhancements of the Glen Ridge performing arts facilities.

Jessica is an accomplished visual artist, who offers classes online and in her studio, and creates stencils, stamps and Judaica products, among other pieces. Originally an actress, she switched to law after becoming involved in politics. Then, after her first daughter was born, she turned her love of art into a career.  You can read more about Jessica here and here!

Recently, she designed the artwork for Lin-Manuel Miranda's campaign to assist Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, and previously designed artwork for Miranda after the Orlando shooting in June, 2016.

Janeece Freeman Clark is a Producer, Director, and Artist Educator who originally hails from Lansing, Michigan. She is in residence at New Jersey Performing Arts Center where she’s a leader in the Musical Theater Department. There, she has produced and directed pieces with writers such as: Mary Pope and Will Osborne (Magic Treehouse), and Murray Horwitz (Ain't Misbehavin'), and music directors Seth Rudetsky, Allen Toussaint, and Ray Chew (American Idol). 


As an artist in residence at Papermill Playhouse and previously at Seton Hall University, it brings Janeece great joy to see graduates from many of her programs experiencing bustling careers in the industry. However, after many years of prepping a diverse body of performers for the musical theater industry, she felt there was a missing piece - SERVICE. In an attempt to assist artists on their journey of not only developing their talents as performers, but also as Artist Citizens, in 2015 Janeece co-founded Vanguard Theater Company (VTC). Vanguard uses theater to break down walls and stereotypes, all the while empowering artists to use their art for activism. 

 

In addition to directing Vanguard Theater’s NY Mainstage productions of Runaways, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Children's Letters to God, A Little Princess, Spring Awakening and VTC’s NJ productions ofMemphis, Hairspray, Heathers, Carrie, Music Man and more, Janeece directed the National Tour of Showtime with Shakespeare produced by George Street Playhouse and NJPAC; the world premiere of the award winning Off-Broadway play Everything Is Fine Until It’s Not; The regional tour of A Night In New Orleans (the story of a young Louis Armstrong), and the Off-Broadway production of A Portrait of Ray(about the legendary Ray Charles). 

 

As an actress, Janeece appeared in Urinetown: The Musical on Broadway, as well as many other Off Broadway, National Tour, and Regional productions. Some of Janeece’s favorite professional Musical Theater credits include: The Wiz (Dorothy), Footloose (Rusty), Godspell (Joanne), Ain't Misbehavin' (Charlayne), and Smokey Joe's Cafe (Brenda.) For several years she was also seen as a series regular on a Children’s television series. 

 

Janeece maintains a private vocal studio in South Orange, NJ where she resides with her family. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and her Graduate studies at Rider University/Westminster Choir College. 

Janeece Freeman Clark
Jessica Sporn
Managing Director

Jessica joined Vanguard after 20 years with Gas Lamp Players, which she incorporated as a not for profit in 2007 and helped grow to a robust, year-round performing arts company in residence in the Glen Ridge School District.
In her years with Gas Lamp Players, she developed a strong reputation as an arts leader, creating a legacy of excellence and community involvement through producing musicals, developing educational and scholarship programs, and contributing to enhancement
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BOARD

Chris Joyce, President
General Counsel, InnovaCare Inc.
Kawaanza King, Vice President
Kawaanza King is a Lifestyle Coach helping Women to live purposefully and abundantly in all areas of their lives. She is the founder of Live Life On Purpose Today!TM
Nadine Dubois, Treasurer
Nadine is the Director of Real Estate Accounting at KIPP NJ, Rutgers University, Newark. She previously worked in the accounting department at TEAMschools. She has a Bachelor of Science and Accounting from Rutgers University, Newark.
Terri Gorgone, Secretary
Music Supervisor, has been teaching music for over 25 years and presently teaches musical theater at the Cicely L. Tyson School of Performing Arts. Previously she taught the Music Magnet Gifted and Talented program in the Irvington School District. Terri has musically directed over 60 shows throughout New York and New Jersey.
Meryl Budnick, Registrar
Meryl has had a lifelong love of the theater and credits her current involvement to the passion and drive that her two (now young adult) daughters exhibited when they were each 5 years old. She believes that involvement in the arts and the fostering of creativity are important steps in helping any child reach their full potential. Meryl is currently employed as the Cultural Arts Director at the Wayne YMCA’s Rosen Performing Arts Center (RPAC)
Martha P. Gonzalez
By day, Patty Gonzalez is a production assistant at Doremus FP. By night, she runs her own catering business. Patty previously worked behind the scenes as costumer for Vanguard's inaugural production of "Hairspray," and as food coordinator for Vanguard's Broadway Buddy mentorship cabarets.
Sahirah Johnson
Sahirah Johnson is a professional actor and singer. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, she graduated from Newark’s Arts High School and continued her education at Howard University (Music Education). Sahirah is a current union member of The Actors Equity Association and she has been training and sharing her craft with children throughout her professional performing career.
Ilena Silverman
Features Editor, New York Times Magazine
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