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!”
HILLARY C. DREW
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. has worked as Musical Director with WTP on many projects, including Junie B. Jones, Big Fish, Meet Me In St. Louis, Cinderella, Madagascar, 13: The Musical, Willy Wonka, Spring Awakening, In the Heights, The Lion King, Chicago, and IMPACT! When not at WTP, he teaches voice and piano lessons from his studio in Stoughton, MA, where he serves as secretary of the local cultural council. He also works as a Repertoire Coach at Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Eric lived in Bloomington, IN for several years, studying music and piano performance 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.
Music Director & Voice Teacher
ERIC ANDERSON JR.
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!
Shannon Eldridge is thrilled to bring her goofy personality and love of theater to Wellesley Theatre Project as one of their Teaching Artists. She holds a B.M. in Voice Performance form The University of Southern Maine, and currrently owns and runs her own voice studio in North Andover, MA. In addition to WTP, Shannon has had the great privilege to teach theater and music accross MA with several schools and community organizations such as The Paige Conservatory for Performing Arts, Kaleidoscope Kids Summer Arts, and Acting Out! Theatre Company. As a singer, Shannon has performed with many Regional companies including The College Light Opera Compant, PORTOpera, and Opera Providence. She was last seen tapping accross the stage as Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes with Pentucket Player of Lawrence, MA. In January 2018, Shannon was gifted her greatest role to date- Mom to her amazing baby boy, Benjamin!
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, Huntington Theatre Company, 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!
LYDIA JANE GRAEFF
Alexa Lambert is thrilled to be working with Wellesley Theatre Project again this year! She 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 include working with Playwrights' Platform, Tempest Productions, and Apollinaire Theatre Company.
Resident Stage Manager & Administrative Assistant
Luciana Fionda is thrilled to continue her work at Wellesley Theatre Project. Her choreography credits here include High School Musical 2 Jr., Madagascar Jr., Cinderella G2K, Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark KIDS!, James and the Giant Peach, Jr., Big Fish, Junie B. Jones Jr., and The Little Mermaid Jr. When not in production, Luciana also teaches Musical Theatre Dance, Studio Dance, Musical Theatre Workshop, and Tap at WTP as well. When not at WTP, she teaches private lessons in Newton, MA as well as choreographs shows in the Greater Boston area.
Choreographer & Teaching Artist
Emma Heistand is currently in her sophomore year at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee in Boston, MA. Her hometown is Orlando, FL where she participated in many community theatre productions such as Big Fish (Alabama Lamb), Music Man (Dance Ensemble) and Beauty and the Beast (Dance Ensemble). She also was very involved with the award-winning high school she attended, West Orange High School, and could've been seen in Annie Get Your Gun (Dance Ensemble), Gypsy (Dainty June), Peter Pan (Wendy), Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins), Into the Woods (Cinderella), and 42nd Street (Peggy). Emma also had her first Broadway debut in 2017, performing in the Jimmy Awards competition hosted by the Broadway League Foundation.
Choreographer & Teaching Artist
Samantha Lovewell is a Teaching Artist at Wellesley Theatre Project and a Teaching Fellow with Boston Children's Chorus. She holds a Bachelors of Music (Education, Voice) and a minor in Theatre Arts from The University of Massachusetts, Lowell, where she graduated in 2015. During her time at UMass, she served as President of The Off-Broadway Players, the student run theatre organization, and performed in, and produced, many shows, as well as opera and musical theatre workshops. Sam was a singer in the Chamber Singers ensemble, and participated in the Sarteano Choral Conducting Workshop in Tuscany, Italy on a scholarship as well. Immediately following graduation, Samantha worked as a full time music, choir and drama teacher and director for two years.
Music Director & Teaching Artist
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.
Music Director & Teaching Artist
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 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.
Choreographer & Teaching Artist
Megan Pillsbury is a Lasell College graduate, aspiring to be a successful and well-renowned costume designer. She has been with Wellesley Theatre Project since the summer of 2015, but has also costumed other shows such as Honk! Jr (Qualters' Middle School) and Heathers (Lasell College) in her career. She hopes to one day further her education with a focus in costume design to expand her knowledge on such matters. She'd like to thank her Dad and close friends for always supporting her, as well as the rest of the WTP Production Staff for being like a second family. Thank you for always pushing her to be better than her best and keep improving what she does.
Resident Costume 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 for over a decade. Seif works full time at 4Wall Boston as an Account Manager and is lucky thathis full time career allows him to continue designing for many companies in opera, dance, and theatre. Seif would like to thank his amazing wife for her unwavering support.