Black and White Cookie














Newsstand photo background by Rachel Barrett

August 11-27, 2023

An original dramedy, set in 2022 NYC, this play portrays an unlikely friendship between two senior men, an African American newsstand owner, Harold Wilson and Albie Sands, a Caucasian idealist, who believes in fighting for what is ethically right, even in our post COVID, sometimes cynical society.

Meet the Cas

Arthur Gregory Pugh - Harold Wilson

Arthur is honored to return to the Center Playhouse stage where he was the Homeless Man in the 2019 NJACT Perry Award Outstanding Original Play Shakespeare’s Lost Masterpiece. The ACE member of the New Jersey Creative Arts Collaborative is a voice-over artist that has done commercials for the NY Red Bulls and the FDNY. Improv lessons with John Swist of QuickThinking Improv in NYC were meant to enhance his voice-over skills, but they steered him more into the field in acting, landing him a role as Mr. Irving in the independent film Downshift. Other film credits include Marvin in April Again and Riley Bennett in The Sound of Southside, now on the film festival circuit. He’s appeared in the music videos Ain’t Nothin’ New by Jadakiss and That Chicken by Dyme-A-Duzin, as well as an episode of Investigation Discovery’s True Crime with Aphrodite Jones. Other theatre credits: Fences (Troy Maxson), A Soldier’s Story (Sgt. Waters), The Tempest (Prospero), and Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy for which he received this year’s (2023) Perry nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor. Arthur is dedicating this production to the memory of his cousin Idell Garner & Miss Elizabeth “Ski” Sciabarra and the thousands of students that loved her. / IG: @teamagp 

Jackie Kusher – Albie Sands

Jackie Kusher made his professional debut as an actor in an Off Broadway production of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ at 19 years old. He appeared on stage playing characters such as Heinzy in ‘Pajama Game,’ Jerry in ‘The Zoo Story,’ and Oscar in ‘The Odd Couple.’ He went on to appear in various movies such as ‘Bullets Over Broadway,’ ‘Radio Days,’ ‘The Chosen,’ and TV roles in ‘Kate & Allie,’ ‘Guiding Light,’ and ‘Ryan’s Hope.’ He had a record released and recorded at RCA Studios and appeared at many nightclubs in both New York and Los Angeles. He recently appeared in an episodic TV series ‘Joyland’ and then originated the role of Harry Simms at Center Playhouse in ‘A Tomato Can’t Grow In The Bronx’ which went on to become an Off Broadway production for which he was nominated for the 2022 ‘Outstanding Performance by an Actor’ for both a ‘Perry Award’ and a ‘Broadway World Award.’ He proudly says: “When you have a dream that calls you, acting on that dream is what truly fulfills you. I am fulfilled!”

Vince Fay – Mitchell Reed

Vince is proud to be back on stage at Center Playhouse, his home away from home.  He was most recently seen here in Deathtrap, Jackie Robinson Steals Home and Neil Simon’s California Suite.  Before the shutdown, he had been in Same Time Next Year, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, The Boys Next Door and Neil Simon’s Dinner Party.  A great thank you to the cast, Bernice and Bob, and of course Roberta and Sheldon for giving us all a place to perform.  Enjoy the cookie!

Jacynth Apora – J.N. Pham

Jacynth is from Englishtown, NJ. Rutgers Theatre Credits: Basilio in Life is a Dream, Ensemble in Movement Project: Saudade, Anonymous Lubavitcher Woman in Fires in the Mirror, Analyn Catacutan in What, Then?  She is pursuing a BFA in Acting at Rutgers Mason Gross. She also loves to sing, play instruments, dance, and write. She is extremely grateful to feel that Center Players has become another home for her. The cast and crew of A Black and White Cookie has been inspiring her and making her laugh so much.

Dale Genesis – Carol Wilson

Dale Genesis is an actress, spoken word poet, and dancer from Plainfield, NJ. Having graduated from Montclair State University in 2022, she received her Bachelors of Fine Arts from Montclair State University's Acting Conservatory program, and a Minor in Business. Dale regularly competes in slams and is often a featured poet, traveling throughout the tri-state area. She is represented by her Manager with Nite Kite Entertainment, and the Lauren Green Agency based out of NY, and she is also a local hire in Atlanta, Georgia. Outside of her performing arts, Dale works full time at Kean University working as an Assistant to the Manager of Kean Stage, where she helps find high profile talent, author's, and politician's, to perform and/or speak at the University. She is also a professional babysitter. To keep herself physically active, Dale routinely practices Pilates, in which she has been doing so for five years. Her most recent credits include the NARRATOR of the play The Black Bullet Dichotomy written by David Stamps, with the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop in New York, and Next Level Stanza as a Featured Poet,  produced by Emmy Award Winning Poet; Treble and 1Hood Media, in Pittsburgh, NJ.

Bernice Garfield-Szita – Director

Bernice is honored to have the opportunity to direct the New Jersey Premier Production of the original play, A Black And White Cookie.  Set in NYC in contemporary 2022, the multi racial, ethnic, and generational characters highlight the commonality we all share in our efforts to have a loving and meaningful life, despite the challenges the world can throw at us.  She loves the compassion and empathy-building qualities of the humorous yet deeply feeling characters.  Bernice has been on the Board of Center Players since it was founded in 1996, first in the role of Vice President, then President, and currently Artistic Director.  Some of her favorite directorial productions were; Crossing Delancey, The Immigrant, Steel Magnolias, Real Women Have Curves, A Year Of Frog And Toad, Charlette’s Web, and A Tomato Can’t Grow In The Bronx.  Bernice loves to shine the spotlight on talent of all ages, levels of experience, and creativity.  She is particularly grateful for the continued support of her husband, Bob Szita, who has produced every play she has directed since 1996.  The love of Theater and Community has created a wonderful loving bond between them.  Bernice knows that a beautifully produced play rests on the shoulders of talented actors, creative artists, a precise technical team and the cohesion that develops both on stage and behind the scenes.  She wants to send a warm thank you to everyone who gave their time and spirit to the production of A Black And White Cookie.

Bob Szita – Producer

If you ask Bob about his theater experience he will usually say, “I married into theater.”  Although many directors over the years have tried to cast him in a role on stage, he always declines, preferring to work on other aspects of Center Players’ productions.  Ever since he and his wife Bernice joined Center Players in 1996, he has produced over 21 plays, including The Cemetery Club in 2012, which was given 9 Perry nominations from NJACT and received 3 Perry Awards in the categories of Costumes, Best Supporting Actress and Outstanding Production of a Play.  He was also the Producer of A Tomato Can’t Grow In The Bronx in 2022 which received several nominations and awards including Outstanding Production of an Original Play.  Bob makes full use of his versatile skills in design, construction, repurposing, creative problem-solving, and coordination with other skilled team members.  Turning a 14 by 17 foot stage into 4 separate NYC settings was challenging, but through the collaboration of a talented, creative, and skilled team and with community donations, it all came to life!  Bob uses his calm compassionate nature and his 38-plus years of experience as a psychotherapist in private practice to support, inspire and coordinate the many community members that work behind the scenes.  Whether he is producing a show or not, he appreciates the bond created through the efforts of a devoted group of volunteers who give their all to create the magic of live theater in Freehold.  He believes Center Players is not just a theater in the community, but a community that creates theater. 

Michele Coppolino – Stage Manager

Michele Coppolino is a native of Brooklyn, New York. She has studied at Lee Strasberg School of Theater in New York City. Her recent theater credits include Stage Managing Jackie Robinson Steals Home, Special Assistant to the Director of an original production of The Chef at the Middletown Arts Center, as well as Co-Stage Managing a recent Off-Off-Broadway production of A Tomato Can’t Grow In The Bronx! 

Erica Jasinski – Stage Manager

Erica is currently a sophomore at Centenary University, NJ, majoring in costume design.  Not new to Center Players she served as Assistant Stage Manager for A Tomato Can’t Grow In The Bronx when the show premiered at Center Playhouse and was Co-stage Manager for its Off-Off-Broadway run.  She was Wardrobe Supervisor for The Lady Killers and Costume Designer for The Addams Family at Centenary Stage Company.  A valued member of Alpha Psi Omega, the National Theatre Honor Society, Erica is thrilled to be part of the creative team for A Black And White Cookie.  ”My summer wouldn’t be complete without working at Center Playhouse.”