Our Team

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HILLARY C. DREW

Executive Director/Co-Founder

hillary@wellesleytheatreproject.org

With a BA in Theatre from University of Central Florida, Hillary has a decade of experience working professionally as a teaching artist, director, producer, and youth theatre program director in Colorado and Florida. In these capacities, Hillary took a leadership role in her community as an arts advocate and was instrumental in growing existing programs both artistically and administratively. Her work with community outreach, marketing efforts and grant preparation, was critical to both the organizational impact on the community, but also its ability to be sustainable. 

Hillary began her love for theatre at the age of three. Knowing the positive impact it brought into her life, her passions grew into a desire to share this art and her skills with the next generation. Hillary is very excited to begin a new journey at WTP, and becoming a part of the Wellesley Community.

“I believe that the theatre arts further one’s character,  understanding, and growth as an individual. My goal as an educator is to inspire students to create, explore, think critically, have an understanding of what’s going on around them and enjoy every minute of it!”

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BEN RUSH

Artistic Director/Co-Founder

rush@wellesleytheatreproject.org

For over 25 years, Ben has worked in all aspects of the theatre as a performer, director, designer, technician, carpenter, and youth educator. Ben attended Florida School of the Arts majoring in Acting and pursuing his Associate in Science degree. Later, he formally expanded his knowledge in Technical Direction with a B.F.A. from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

 

As a performer, Ben grew into such roles as Romeo (Romeo and Juliet), Cervantes / Quixote (Man of La Mancha), Harold Hill (The Music man), James Leeds (Children of a Lesser God - Best Actor, South Eastern Theatre Conference), and the title role in Shakespeare's Macbeth (Best Actor Thespian Award Winner). Ben worked professionally in Orlando as a stunt performer at Universal Studios Orlando as well as an actor with regional houses such as Florida Children's Repertory Theatre, Orlando Rep, and Mad Cow Theatre. As a child of educators, Ben followed his own desire and dream to teach.  

 

Recently his work has been seen on Season 9 of AMERICA'S GOT TALENT, with Jim Henson’s Muppets, and on a new cirque spectacular for the DRAGONE company. Credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional, and Educational productions. 

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ERIC ANDERSON JR.

Music Director & Voice Teacher

eric@wellesleytheatreproject.org

Eric Anderson Jr. has worked as Musical Director with WTP on many projects, including In the Heights, Spring Awakening, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and many more! When not at WTP, he teaches voice and piano lessons from his studio in Stoughton, MA and  is an adjunct theatre faculty member at Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Eric previously lived in Bloomington, IN, studying at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and taking part in a wide range of theatre productions as producer, director, music-director, and – in one last-minute situation – a follow-spot operator.

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BERNIE BALDASSARO

Choreographer

Bernie Baldassaro is beyond excited to be joining the WTP
family! Holding a BFA in Musical Theatre from Ithaca College, Bernie has worked extensively as a performer, choreographer, director, and theatre educator. Locally, he has taught dance and acting for North Shore Music Theatre, The Young Co. at Greater Boston Stage, Artbarn Community Theatre, The JCC of Greater Boston, Venturing Studios, and Noel Smith Voice Studio. He also served as a choreographer and company member for Rockhard Dance Co. in
Ithaca NY from 2014-2018. Some favorite directorial and choreographic credits include Disney’s High School Musical, Godspell, and The Dinosaur Musical all with the Young Co. at Greater
Boston Stage. Bernie has performed across the country on the Broadway National Tour of Elf, the Musical and
in the original company of Baby Shark Live! (Dance Captain). Other recent performance credits
include A Christmas Carol and Disney’s Freaky Friday both at North Shore Music Theatre.
berniebaldassaro.com

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JULIA DETER

Director & Choreographer

Julia Deter is a Boston-based director, choreographer, and educator. Julia is thrilled to be working with WTP again after choreographing Bright Star, Matilda, Charlie Brown, and directing/ choreographing Urinetown and Spring Awakening. Other Boston-area direction & choreography credits include The Old Man & the Old Moon (The Umbrella Stage Company), Birdy (A.D., Commonwealth Shakespeare Company), Hedwig & the Angry Inch (The Umbrella Stage Company), See Rock City & Other Destinations (Edinburgh Festival Fringe), Avenue Q (Arts After Hours), Peter & the Starcatcher  (Footlight Club), Next to Normal (BTD), West Side Story (Turtle Lane), A Chorus Line, Ragtime, The Rocky Horror Show, Singin' in the Rain, and The Producers (all at The Umbrella). In a previous life as a performer, she was seen in the National Touring companies of 42nd Street (Ensemble) and All Shook Up (Dance Captain), and the European Tour of Fiddler on the Roof (Chava), among others. She has worked backstage with the Broadway companies of 42nd Street, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and with the Radio City Rockettes. Julia is an Honours graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance in London, and teaches performing arts throughout the Boston area. 

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LUCIANA FIONDA

Choreographer & Teaching Artist

luciana@wellesleytheatreproject.org

Luciana Fionda joined the Wellesley Theatre Project team in Fall 2015. She has choreographed multiple productions here at WTP and introduced Tap to the curriculum. She also choreographed WTP's first Junior Theatre Festival Performance where one of her students was selected to be a part of the 2020 Instructional Choreography Video in NYC. When not at WTP, you can find her choreographing regionally and performing on stage and in film. Choreography credits include The Addams Family (Actorsingers: NHTA Top 3 Best Choreography),  Mary Poppins, Jekyll & Hyde, and Anything Goes (Pentucket Players), The Music Man  (Spotlight Playhouse), and Doctor Faustus (Suffolk University)  Onstage credits include Velma Kelly in Chicago, Odette in La Cage Aux Folles (Arts Impulse Winner: Best Ensemble), and Deported: a dream play.  Film credits: Warmth; Love, Weddings, and Other Disasters; App-Prentice.

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LYDIA JANE GRAEFF

Teaching Artist & Director

lydia@wellesleytheatreproject.org

Lydia Jane Graeff  joined The Wellesley Theatre Project family as a Teaching Artist in the summer of 2017. Outside of WTP, Lydia teaches theatre classes in several schools in Greater Boston as the Resident Teaching Artist for both Boston Lyric Opera and Company One Theatre, and she also provides annual arts integration training for teaching artists and Boston Public Schools teachers. She is a working actor with Lyric Stage Company's Kidstage, in residence at the Boston Children's Museum, and has recently performed with Bridge Repertory Theatre, Boston Public Works Playwrights, and Open Theatre Project. Lydia completed her Master of Arts degree in Theatre Education at Emerson University in 2016 and is a licensed K-12 teacher in Massachusetts. 

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ALEXA BROOKE LAMBERT

Resident Stage Manager &

Office Manager

alexa@wellesleytheatreproject.org

Alexa Brooke Lambert joined the Wellesley Theatre Project team in Summer 2016, and has stage-managed nearly every production here since. She earned her BA in English: Theatre Arts Concentration and Psychology: Developmental Disabilities Specialization from The University of Massachusetts, Lowell, where she focused primarily on stage management, production management, and performance, and served as President of The Off-Broadway Players. Recent stage management credits outside of WTP include working with Playwrights’ Platform, Tempest Productions, and Apollinaire Theatre Company. 

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ASH LONG

Costume Designer

Ash Long is very excited to join the Wellesley Theatre Project family! They graduated in 2020 from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in Production Design with a concentration in Costume Design. Previous work includes Big Fish with WTP and Matilda with the Savannah Children’s Theatre. They also participated in Odyssey of the Mind for 12 years. To see more of their work you can visit their website ashscostumes.com

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BEC RAY LOWE

Makeup, Hair, & Costume Designer

Bec Ray Lowe Bec Ray Lowe is so excited to be a part of the Wellesley Theatre Project family. They’ve been a part of many WTP productions since that first master class, both on and off the stage. They graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in Dramatic Writing and a minor in Music Composition. Some favorite productions include A Christmas Carol (Spirit of Christmas Present), The Addams Family (Uncle Fester), and Annie Jr. (Miss Hannigan). Outside of WTP, they’ve written numerous plays and are working on their first musical. Bec is thrilled to be able to give back to the community that helped them thrive. They’d like to dedicate their craft to their papa, because even though he could never stay awake during a show, he always loved the theatre.

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JENNIE MCGUINNESS

Music Director, Costume Designer, Puppet Designer

Jennie McGuinness graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, with a specialization in Musical Theatre. In the years since graduation she has performed professionally in New York, Regionally and Nationally, including the National tours of Elf, the Musical! (Ens, Mrs. Clause, u/s Deb) and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Marie, u/s Mrs. Potts and Wardrobe). Some of her favorite roles include Suzy (Marvelous Wonderettes), Cathy (Last 5 Years) and Georgie (The Full Monty). It has been a joy to work with these amazing students! A huge thank you to WTP and especially Mr. Rush and Ms. Hillary for this incredible experience. Love and Hugs.

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JAMES MURPHY

Music Director & Voice Teacher

james@wellesleytheatreproject.org

James Murphy has worked as a Music Director for WTP on Sleeping Beauty Jr. and Beauty and the Beast Jr.  He is thrilled to be back with WTP as a voice teacher.  James has his Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance from The Boston Conservatory and his Masters of Music Education from Anderson University. James is going to be entering his 9th year teaching at his own voice studio in Burlington.  Having taught middle school chorus for 4 years, he left that position to focus full-time on teaching voice, a true passion of his.  He has helped students get into colleges like Berklee, Emerson, and The Boston Conservatory Masters of Theatre program. Helping students prep for auditions is one of his favorite aspects of teaching voice but it's also hard to top helping students get comfortable in their voice and let that instrument out.  When not teaching voice, James is also active in the local theatre scene as a music director.  He has done several shows with the Umbrella Stage Company including 42nd Street, Sideshow, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Avenue Q.  James has also won back-to-back DASH awards for Best Music Director for his work on Big Fish and Parade, both at The Umbrella.

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SEIFALLAH

SALOTTO-CRISTOBAL

Lighting & Projection Designer

SeifAllah Salotto-Cristobal holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Lighting and Projection Design from The University of Missouri-Kansas City and is fortunate to have been designing continuously around the country for over a decade for companies such as The Umbrella Stage (MA) Opera Colorado (CO), The Boston Conservatory at Berklee (MA), Company One (MA), Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts (IN), Unicorn Theatre (MO), Nora Theatre at Central Square (MA), New Freedom Theatre (PA), and Coterie Theatre (MO). Seif is the Assistant Professor of Lighting Design at the University of Southern Maine. Seif would like to thank his amazing wife and daughter for their unwavering support. https://seifallahcristobal.com

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HANNAH SHIHDANIAN

Choreographer & Teaching Artist

hannah@wellesleytheatreproject.org

Hannah Shihdanian started with WTP in the first summer session, and has choreographed or directed over 40 productions. She moved to Texas in 2018, but she's now back living in the Boston area! Hannah is a full time mom to three kids, performs professionally, and runs her own dance and fitness company called HDC. She has performed with the A.R.T., Greater Boston Stage Company, the Umbrella Stage Company, Reagle Music Theater, and others. She was beyond honored to be asked to choreograph for IMPACT this year and feels lucy to create art with the people she loves.  www.hannahsdancecommunity.com

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KAYLA TOMAS

Teaching Artist

Kayla Tomas is a multihyphenate artist, storyteller and educator originally from Coral Springs, Florida. She holds a BA in
Theatre from Florida State University and is currently pursuing her MA/MFA in Theatre Education/Applied Theatre at Emerson College after working as a professional artist regionally and in NYC for the last five years. A product of drama education, Kayla credits her resilience and success to the educators that facilitated
her engagement and play. As a teaching artist, she values the importance of creativity and exploration as a means to develop, collaborate and discover potential both onstage and in life. Proud
member of Actor’s Equity Association. www.kaylatomas.com.

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DAVID WRIGHT

Music Director

David Wright is thrilled to be joining the fantastic community of the Wellesley Theatre Project. David has been appearing on stage and behind stage for over twenty years, trying to balance performing, direction, and teaching in and around Boston. Favorite roles include Ricky Taylor in Bat Boy (EMACT award for best supporting actor in a musical), Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, and Baker in Into the Woods. Recent music direction credits include the regional premiere of Hundred Days, Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Umbrella Center for the Arts), Cabaret (Footlight Club, EMACT nomination for best music direction), and In the Heights (Watertown Children's Theatre). When not buried in a music score, David is a special education team chair with the Newton Public Schools. Thank you to the WTP staff, students, and creatives for making his first production one to remember. 

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