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!”
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.
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.
LYDIA JANE GRAEFF
Teaching Artist & Director
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.
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
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.
Teaching Artist & Choreographer
Emma Heistand, a recent graduate from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee with a BFA in musical theatre is thrilled to be back at WTP family after Choreographing 13 the musical in 2018. Through her college years she studied many techniques such as Linklater work, Chekhov, Meisner, and Stanislavski acting techniques. Emma also spent her 4 years at the conservatory with a rigorous dance training in ballet, jazz, modern style, and tap. She was apart of the elite dance emphasis group. Growing up in Orlando, FL she participated in many community theatre productions, as well as danced with the Central Florida Ballet academy. She also was very involved with the award winning high school she attended West Orange High School and could’ve been seen in 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 but the Broadway League Foundation. She is truly thrilled to now dive into the world of education for young aspiring artists and share her passion and knowledge of the musical theatre world. She is so thankful to Hillary Drew, Ben Rush, and Wellesley Theatre Project for giving her this incredible opportunity to hopefully inspire the next generation of artists. She finally would like to thank her loving family for their constant support and love.
Megan Henderson has lived in the Boston area since coming to the Walnut Hill School in Natick, MA from Altoona, PA. She graduated with a degree in Piano Performance from New England Conservatory and is an active collaborative pianist and piano teacher in the Boston area. Among a myriad of appearances, she has performed on the Winsor Music Chamber Series, Music on Norway Pond Concert Series and live on WGBH radio. For many years, Megan was the pianist for musical theatre classes at the Harvard Extension and Summer Schools. She has sung with the early music ensemble, Schola Cantorum of Boston, since its founding in 1982 and has appeared on many recordings with the Boston Camerata as a singer and keyboard player. She has also taught at the Village Harmony Summer camps and toured Europe and the UK with a semi -professional ensemble of singers and instrumentalists. Megan is the organist and choir director at Payson Park Church in Belmont, MA and served as the music director of Revels, Inc. from 2016-2020. She is super excited to join the WTP staff for Matilda!
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.
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.
Evan Rees is a conductor, pianist, and voice teacher based in NYC (currently temporarily relocated to his hometown of Boston). Broadway: The Visit. London: Into the Woods (Menier Chocolate Factory). Off-Broadway: Love Life (City Center Encores!); The Boys From Syracuse (Theatre Row); A Bed and a Chair (City Center Encores!). National Tour: Into the Woods; Chicago; A Christmas Story. Regional: Grand Hotel (Signature Theatre VA); Fun Home (Baltimore Center Stage); The Visit (Williamstown Theatre Festival); A Little Night Music (The Princeton Festival). Evan has served on the musical theater faculty at the Manhattan School of Music; as a staff vocal coach at Westminster College of the Arts at Rider University; and as a guest teacher in Columbia University's MFA acting program. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and he is currently an MFA candidate in musical theater vocal pedagogy at The Boston Conservatory.
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
Soud Designer & Audio Editor
Katie Scholl is a 2019 graduate of The University of Colorado Boulder where she studied music with a major in flute performance and a focus on music technology. At school, she worked as a recording technician for student and faculty recitals. As a flutist, she was a quarterfinalist in the 2019 National Flute Association Young Artists Competition. In addition, she was the winner of the 2016 Colorado Flute Association Collegiate Competition, as well as the 2015 Grand Prize Winner of the Fidelity Investments Young Artists Competition at the Boston Pops. Additionally, she is no stranger to the stage as Katie played Mayzie La Bird in WTP’s inaugural production of Seussical, and music directed WTP's Summer 2018 production of Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark. She would like to thank her family, Mr. Rush and Ms. Hillary for all their support!
ALEXA BROOKE LAMBERT
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.
BEC RAY LOWE
Makeup, Hair, & Costume Designer
Bec Ray Lowe is so excited to be back at Wellesley Theatre Project - this time as staff! Their love for theatre began at a very young age, and it has only grown since then. They’ve been a part of many WTP productions since that first master class, both on and off the stage. They recently graduated with a BFA in Dramatic Writing and Music Composition from the Savannah College of Art and Design. 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
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.
Choreographer & Teaching Artist
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.
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.
Choreographer & Teaching Artist
Hannah Shihdanian joined the WTP family as their first Choreographer in 2012! Hannah choreographed/ directed over 30 productions, helped develop WTP's IMPACT!, and served as the Director of Community Engagement. 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, The Umbrella Stage Company, and Hackmatack Playhouse. She also was a resident teaching artist for Artbarn 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 with another on the way, 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.