About North Star Theater Company

North Star Theater Company is a non-profit theater company located in Sussex, NJ. Our mission is to provide an inclusive environment and to provide a high-quality theatrical experience to Northwest New Jersey and its surrounding communities through the production of various genres of drama, comedies, and musicals, while training and fostering the talents of all participants at every age and level of experience. We provide a respectful and professional atmosphere for our audience and all participants.

The founding members are: Jim Berkheiser, Phil Cocilovo, Bill Fell, Donna Fell, Chrissy Fulmer, Debbie Gianuzzi and Allison Ognibene.

The North Star Theater Company’s Board of Directors are a team dedicated to shining a spotlight on theater in Sussex County. We are comprised of teachers, professors, local business owners, thespians and theater professionals committed to creating a respectful and professional atmosphere for our audience and all participants. Meet the board!

EXECUTIVE BOARD 2021 – Bill Fell, President; Phil Cocilovo, Vice President; Donna Fell, Treasurer; Jodi Halteman, Secretary; Allison Ognibene, Artistic Director


Kelly Dacus-Smith, choreographer / director; AnMarie DeGiovanni, Education Director; Debbie Gianuzzi, Music Director; Karen McCully, Public Relations; Travis Prol, Stage Manager Consultant; Scott Rogoff, Technical Director; Nathan Simmons, Set Director.

Headshot Photo credit: Jodi Halteman

Bill Fell


I am thrilled to serve as North Star Theater Company’s inaugural President. A resident of Sparta, NJ, it is a great privilege and honor to lead this newly formed community theater organization.  Theater has always been a part of my life since junior year of high school.

I have spent 30 years working in various positions with Shell Oil Company, and during my time with Shell, I never envisioned that I would lead such a wonderful team of dedicated professionals, from various backgrounds and skill sets, to bring community theater to Northern New Jersey!!

North Star Theater will shine a light on the many talented performers in Sussex County, NJ!

Phil Cocilovo

Vice President

I may have come to community theater a little later in life, but once the theater bug bit,, I was hooked.  A retired teacher of 37 years in New Jersey’s classrooms, a long time Civil War re-enactor and trip director with Curriculum Travels of America, I reside in Montague, NJ and have been active in theater since 2014. 
I am very proud and honored to be part of North Star Theater Company and working among so many talented and dedicated people that I have come to know and respect.  At the outset of this exciting new venture, with limitless possibilities lying ahead, I’m most looking forward to hopefully serving as a positive role model for nervous newcomers, teens and children, guiding and helping them to discover the same excitement, satisfaction and joy in community theater with which I have been blessed.

Donna Fell


I have owned a small business in Sparta for 12 years and bring significant business acumen to the Board of Directors for North Star Theater Company.  My desire to get involved in the community and contribute to the success of the arts drove me to get involved with this new endeavor. 

Theater has always been a part of my adult life whether supporting my three children in countless theatrical, gymnastic and competition cheerleading performances or supporting friends and my husband in several productions throughout Sussex County, New Jersey. As a resident of Sparta, New Jersey in rural Sussex County, I am excited to be the serving as Secretary and Inaugural Board Member of North Star Theater Company.

Dr. Deborah Prudenti Gianuzzi

Board Member, Music Director

I am a music educator of 28 years and have taught at all levels of public education. My current responsibilities include instrumental and vocal music at Sparta High School.  I am also an adjunct faculty and Coordinator of Music and Musical Theater at Sussex County Community College. She continues to work as a freelance musician, music director, orchestra conductor for many area schools as well as community theaters in the area. 

Allison Ognibene

Artistic Director

I am thrilled to be a part of this phenomenal team. Everybody is a star in this constellation and we each shine a light on different aspects on the theater. I have an acting degree in Theater and a Masters in Performing Arts Management. I currently work at County College of Morris and as a Youth Director at Our Lady of the Lake. I have lived in Sussex County during my formative years, and moved back in 2008, residing in Sparta. There are so many talented people in our county and I look forward to promoting North Star Theater Company! Follow us on facebook @northstartheater (can’t help to do a shameless plug!)

Jim Berkheiser

Founding President Emeritus

People say that I am a fixture on the stage in Sussex County. It’s my second home, and I am thrilled to see my dream of North Star Theater Company coming to light!
I have appeared in many roles in Off-Off Broadway theaters, including the 92nd Street YMCA and the Twelfth Night Club and appeared in two productions of Israel Horowitz’s RATS each winning separate Director Festivals.  I was on the Board of Directors of Pretender’s Theater, an Off-Off Broadway Company , where I acted and directed.
I moved to Sussex County in 1982 and have lived and worked here since.  When I am not on stage, I am a published poet. My book, IN MERCURIAL DAYS is available on line at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.  

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