Our Team

HILLARY C. DREW

Executive Director/Co-Founder

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!”

BEN RUSH

Artistic Director/Co-Founder

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. 

ERIC ANDERSON JR.

Music Director & Voice Teacher

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.

ALEXA BROOKE

Resident Stage Manager & Administrative Assistant

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. 

JULIA DETER

Choreographer

Julia Deter is a Boston-based director, choreographer, and educator. Boston-area directing & choreography credits include Birdy (Assistant Director, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (The Umbrella), See Rock City & Other Destinations (Edinburgh Festival Fringe), Avenue Q (Arts After Hours), Peter and 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 worked with the National Tours of 42nd Street and All Shook Up, and the European Tour of Fiddler on the Roof, among others. Julia is an Honours graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance in London, and teaches performing arts throughout the Boston area. She is very excited to be joining the WTP family!

LUCIANA FIONDA

Choreographer & Teaching Artist

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.

LYDIA JANE GRAEFF

Teaching Artist & Director

Lydia Jane Graeff joined The Wellesley Theatre Project family the summer of 2017, and fell in love with these kids and this company! Lydia also works as a Teaching Artist for Boston Lyric Opera, Company One, and True To Life Training. She is a working actor with Kidstage 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 teacher in Massachusetts. Big shout out to Hillary for always working with her crazy schedule!

Samantha Lovewell

Teaching Artist & Music Director

Samantha Lovewell is a Teaching Artist at Wellesley Theatre Project and works at New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) in the Advancement Department. She holds a Bachelor of Music (Education, Voice) and a minor in Theatre Arts from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell (UMass) as well as a Master of Science in Arts Administration from Boston University (BU). During her time at UMass she served as President of the Off-Broadway Players and performed in and produced many shows as well as opera and musical theatre workshops, and sang in the Chamber Singers ensemble and in the Sarteano Choral Conducting Workshop in Tuscany, Italy on a scholarship.  At BU, Samantha served as the President of the Arts Administration Student Association, and now volunteers as a mentor for the program. Samantha worked as a full time music, choir, and drama director and now currently, outside of her work at NEC, serves on the Board of Trustees at City Ballet of Boston, and on staff at MassOpera.

Erika Elizabeth Kucks

Teaching Artist

Erika Elizabeth Kucks is so grateful being a part of the Wellesley Theatre Project community. She recently graduated from Keene State College with her Bachelors in Theatre with a Specialization in Acting. Erika has always been passionate and involved in youth education, starting with teaching children how to ski at Mount Snow! With 15 years of theatre experience under her belt, she is so excited to further her theatre career. She is thrilled to be teaching Theatre in A Trunk and From Page to Stage!

JENNIE MCGUINNESS

Music Director & Costume 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.

BRITTANY MEEHAN

Costume Designer

Brittany Meehan is a graduate of Boston University who received her degree in Costume Design in 2018. This is her first time working with Wellesley Theatre Project and is so excited to be a part of the team! Since graduating she has worked in and around Boston as a Freelance Designer and Wardrobe Supervisor. Previous shows include Grease Jr at the Thomas Edison School, Once on This Island Jr at Wheelock Family Theatre, The Little Prince with The NEMPAC Opera Project, 42nd Street and James and the Giant Peach with Bridgewater University’s Arts For Teens Summer program, We Are Proud to Present at Brandeis University, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat at the Pierce Middle School. She is currently the Wardrobe Supervisor at Central Square Theatre and Wheelock Family Theatre. 

JAMES MURPHY

Music Director & Voice Teacher

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.

CHRISTIN RILLS

Choreographer

Christin Rills has a BA in Theatre Performance from Louisiana State University and an MA in Theatre Education from Emerson. Christin has been working in theatre for 20 years as a performer, choreographer, director, costumer and educator. She is currently teaching Dance at Bridgewater State University, Improv and Musical Theatre for Belmont Public Schools and is thrilled to join the WTP team! You can also catch Christin most weekends performing with ComedySportz Boston. 

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

KEN RUSH

Costume Designer

Ken Rush is a recently retired secondary school teacher having taught high school theatre for 36 years. He has directed over 200 productions many of which have won state titles in Texas and Florida and also include a few national titles as well. His award winning directorial credits include 42nd Street, Jekyll and Hyde, Annie Get Your Gun, The Elephant Man, MacBeth, Children of A Lesser God, Hair, Amadeus, The Grapes of Wrath, Fences, Anne of A Thousand Days and Romeo and Juliet. Rush is also a successful playwright and his script Independence Pop. 301 garnered first place titles on every level of competition including the national first place  title at the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Ken also finds time to have a pretty active acting career himself when not working with the students. His credits include the national tour of Jekyll and Hyde (Sir Danvers) and A Christmas Carol (Christmas Present). His regional credits include featured roles in My Fair Lady (Doolittle), Camelot (Arthur), Fiddler on the Roof (Tevye), Pirates of Penzance (Major General), Lend Me A Tenor (Saunders) and Broadway Bound (Jack). Upon his retirement, Rush and his wife Sara relocated from Florida to New York City to be closer to their grown children. His daughter Jessica and son-in-law Eric are presently performing on Broadway and his son Benjamin, as many of you know, is the Artistic Director of the Wellesley Theatre Project. However, the star of the family is his 4 year old granddaughter, Elliot, who is anxiously waiting in the wings for her big break. 

HANNAH SHIHDANIAN

Choreographer & Teaching Artist

Hannah Shihdanian first found WTP in the summer of 2012 and joined the team as their first choreographer!  Hannah choreographed/directed over 30 productions, helped develop WTP's IMPACT, and became the Director of Community Engagement.  Hannah pours her heart and soul into WTP and she is passionate about the mission statement and it's presence in the community.  She helped grow WTP by building the trust of her students and pushing them to reach their full potential, while creating choreography they could be proud of.  Professionally, Hannah is an Equity Member Candidate and has worked for the A.R.T. as a principal actor and dance captain for The Donkey Show (directed by Diane Paulus), as an actor for the Greater Boston Stage Co., Reagle Music Theatre, Turtle Lane Playhouse, and Hackmatack Playhouse.  She also was a resident teaching artist for Art Barn Community Theatre, and freelanced at The Umbrella Stage Co., Babson College, Needham Community Theatre, Needham High School, Alexander Children's Theatre among others.  A Mom of two little ones, WTP always supported her desire to nurture her career while being a full time Mom!  She now resides in College Station, Texas, but she will always consider WTP to be her home.

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CONTACT US

The Wellesley Theatre Project Studios
at The Wellesley Community Center
219 Washington St.
Wellesley, MA 02481

Tel: 781-235-1550

Email: info@wellesleytheatreproject.org

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