Our Professional Staff
TOM LUPFER (Director/Producer) is a graduate of the Program in Educational Theatre at New York University, where he earned a M.A. He also holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Susquehanna University. Currently, Tom is a drama teacher and Related Arts Subject Matter Leader at a performing arts magnet school in Montclair, NJ. In May 2015, Tom co-produced the documentary film Ceremony for This Time, premiering at the Montclair Film Festival. The film chronicles the creation of a performance piece celebrating the power of the performing arts in education.
The director/producer for PV Theatre since 2007, Tom is proud to collaborate with his wife Merielle, with whom he was honored to share the 2014 Montclair State University JoAnn Fox Award, given to a director who is: "an inspiration to his/her students, whose passion for theatre is infectious, and who creates a community, a loving extended family in his/her school in the process of producing high quality productions." Tom's favorite productions are his twin daughters.
MERIELLE LUPFER (Director) is a 2001 alumna of PVHS who holds a degree in Educational Theatre from New York University. She spends the school day teaching 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies at George G. White Middle School in Hillsdale. Returning to helm the high school theatre program that was her initial training ground in performance and design, and doing it alongside her favorite collaborator, has been a dream come true for the past 12 years. Though she sometimes jokes that her work is mostly “doing skits with kids,” Merielle believes strongly in the importance of the arts in students’ lives and is grateful for the privilege of creating art with young people for a living. Among the parts she’s enjoyed playing on stage are Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Amy in Company, but Merielle’s favorite role is Mama to her twin daughters.
MICHAEL MAHADEEN (Vocal Musical Director/Orchestra Director), a conductor, educator, performer, and composer, works as Assistant Director of the Symphony of Winds and Percussion at New Jersey City University, and serves as a music director, conductor, and orchestrator with the Montclair State University Theater and Dance Department and various local theater companies. Broadway/NYC credits include: On the 20th Century, Show Boat, Waterfall, The Hills Are Alive!, Once on this Island. As a composer, Michael has had music performed by the Czech Radio Orchestra (2007 Dvořák Festival, Prague and Vienna), the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, the Colonial Symphony, various all-state, region, high school, collegiate, and community ensembles, and is known internationally for his scores to video games in the Wing Commander series. In 2013, Michael began work with Connect4Education, arranging for their OnMusic Conducting course.
Michael graduated with honors from MSU, majoring in Music Education/Music Theory and Composition, and is a recipient of the New Jersey Distinguished Student Teacher Award. In September 2013, Michael returned to MSU for his graduate studies in composition, concentrating in musical direction/conducting for musical theater, and became the Graduate Assistant for the program in September 2014. Michael is a member of Phi Mu Alpha, MENC, and ASCAP. His music is published by Bandworks Publications.
FRANCESCA SILVANO (Choreographer) is a native of Rome, Italy, where she graduated from the National Academy of Dance, before attending the Covent Garden School of Dance in London. Upon moving to the U.S., Mrs. Silvano has performed for various dance companies and choreographers in New York City. She holds a degree in Comparative Literature, and is happy to share both her talents -- academic and performing-- at PV.
KELSEY MCGRAIL (Choreographer) is a PV Theatre alum, class of 2012. She started choreographing during her junior year, and has choreographed musical numbers for ten PV Theatre musicals. She is a graduate of SUNY Geneseo.
CURTIS SHIELDS (Lighting Designer) is a New York City based lighting designer for theatre, dance, and opera. Broadway: The Spongebob Musical (Assistant to LD). Regional: Shrek The Musical, Evita (Assoc.) Oklahoma! (Assoc.), Fallen Skies. Additional Credits: West Side Story, Carrie, Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA, Triumph of Love, Den of Thieves, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (Assoc.), The Joci Awards, and numerous dance shows. PV: Urinetown, Anything Goes, Don’t Drink The Water, Cabaret, The Laramie Project and Ten Years Later. A proud PV Theatre alumni, Curtis is happy to be back in the space where he found his love for theatrical design. He is a graduate of Montclair State University where he received a BFA in Lighting Design. IG: @curtisshieldsdesign curtisshieldsdesign.com
MELISSA GARGIULO (Costume Designer/Costume, Prop, Hair & Makeup Supervisor) is so excited to be working with the students of PV Theatre. Soon to be a graduate of Montclair State University’s BFA Costume Design & Technology program, she has been able to design Reefer Madness, Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, and the premiere of Gift, choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance’s Stacey Tookey. She is also a certified makeup artist with Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Professionally, she recently worked with Bristol Valley Theatre, Texas Shakespeare Festival, as well as for NETworks Presentations national tour of The Sound of Music. To keep up with her work, follow @melissaann.g.designs on Instagram.