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Board of Directors

Elizabeth Ponic

President

Elizabeth Ponic originally hails from Stowe, Vermont, where she first fell in love with dance, followed by theatre at a very young age. She moved out here after obtaining a B.A. in Theatre Arts, focusing on Stage Management as her primary focus in her senior year of college.Elizabeth has been an active member of the theatre community here in Albuquerque since moving here in 2006. Since joining the board originally in 2013 she has held the positions of Secretary, Vice President and President.

Some of her favorite onstage highlights included Chicago, Joseph, Cats, Cabaret, Anything Goes, The Producers, Guys and Dolls, and Hair with various theatre companies. Some of her favorite backstage credits since moving here include Stage Managing The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Newsies, Bonnie & Clyde, Beauty & The Beast, Rock of Ages, Hair Design for The Addams Family, Into the Woods, Shrek the Musical and Costume Design for Civil War, Stones in his Pocket and Sordid Lives.

She looks forward to many more years of working with this incredible community.

Elizabeth Ponic

President

[email protected]

Lou Becker

Vice President

Lou recently moved back to Albuquerque after working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles for the past 25 years. He spent his formative years performing here in Albuquerque with A.C.L.O.A. and is absolutely thrilled to be back as the vice president of the board to what is now MTS. For most of his time in LA, Lou was a professional dancer on stage, TV and in film; but he also worked in television production and is currently a casting producer- managing the casting departments for such shows as Project Runway, The Circle, and Sexy Beasts. In 2019, his work as assistant choreographer and principal dancer on Crazy Ex Girlfriend earned an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography.

Some favorite credits over the years include:
TV- Jack and Jill, Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Veep, Raising Hope, Wet Hot American Summer; First Day of Camp, Jane the Virgin.

FILM: Wyatt Earp, The Muppets, La La Land

Lou Becker

Vice President

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Lilia Ruiz

Treasurer

Lilia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and maintains a license as a Certified Public Accountant in both New Mexico and Nevada. She's spent over 25 years conducting and leading financial investigations in both the federal and state government sectors and is now retired. Lilia now invests her time in various volunteer activities and is thrilled to lend her skillset to MTS where she assists with the financial and other aspects of the organization. Lilia feels especially blessed that she was able to develop her love of musicals as a youth when she saw many classics at the Ahmanson and the (now extinct) Schubert Theatres in Los Angeles, complements of the high school she attended. She continued throughout her life to support the theatre as an audience member and learned about MTS due to her new love of tap dancing where she attended a performance by the Alley Kats Tap Company. Lilia spends some of her spare time taking tap classes, yoga and hiking with her husband, Guy.

Lilia Ruiz

Treasurer

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Jenni Hipolito

Secretary

Jenni Hipólito

Secretary

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Kristy Baker

Director

Bio coming soon

Kristy Baker

Director

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Jordon Embree

Director

Jordon Embree studied at The Southwest University of Visual Arts, majoring in interior architecture and design with a minor in advertising and marketing. He gained years of experience in residential design as the head In-House Designer at a local custom home builder. He also gained further knowledge of graphic design and production as the production manager at a large format print shop. He has loved theatre since childhood and has found many creative outlets through volunteering with MTS over the years. Now, his focus is on improving and streamlining the processes we use in our theatre.

Jordon Embree

Director

[email protected]

Adrianne Elkins

Director

Adrianne Elkins is a local school principal, teacher, mom, and theatre volunteer. She holds a Master's degree in Education and an Ed.S in Educational Leadership from the University of New Mexico, where she also began doctoral work in 2017 before opening an APS Magnet School. Adrianne now serves as principal and teacher of an award winning local K-8 program. Adrianne has performed in many local productions with MTS and other local theatres. Favorite roles include Belle (Beauty and the Beast, MTS), Blanche (Bonnie and Clyde, MTS), Sandra Bloom (Big Fish, MTS), Gingy (Shrek the Musical, ALT) and Marty Maraschino (Grease, ALT); however, her favorite role will always be any which enables her to work on behalf of others, and she is excited to serve Musical Theatre Southwest and our extended community family.

Adrianne Elkins 

Director

[email protected]

Ron Gallegos

Director

Ron is excited to join the MTS Board of Directors. Ron has been very active in the theatre community since returning to Albuquerque in 2012, performing in shows not only at MTS, but others as well. Ron graduated from Point Park University in Pittsburgh with a BFA and brings extensive performance experience in the theatre and performed in many venues across the US. Ron knows the operations of what it takes to make a professional theatre production company thrive and Ron believes MTS is on a clear path to continue to have high professional standards. Ron's goal is to help MTS continue to reach an even higher standard than it ever has.

Ron Gallegos 

Director

[email protected]

Alissa Hall

Director

Alissa Hall began her performance career as a classically trained dancer and moved into musicals with MTS (then ACLOA) in 1998. Since then, she's continued to pursue her passion for the theater by expanding into production roles as a choreographer, stage manager and director, as well as continuing to perform, for hundreds of local shows and over the past few decades -- involved in everything from ballet to burlesque, belly dance to opera, it's MTS and their brand of contemporary musicals that remains her greatest passion.

Alissa Hall

Director

[email protected]

Charles Kimble

Director

Bio coming soon.

Charles Kimble

Director

[email protected]

Danny McBride

Director

Danny loves service and has a strong passion for community building and volunteering. With a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from Colorado State University, he has since focused his efforts towards the service of others, working as a firefighter in Los Alamos. While there, he developed a community involvement team that used off-duty firemen to assist senior citizens who lived alone. At his former church he coordinated a program that gave homeless families temporary housing, while assisting them in finding a permanent home and employment. He also has spent thousands of hours volunteering in other programs for the homeless, the developmentally disabled community, animal rescues, and youth sports programs.

Though relatively new to the theater community, Danny has been on stage in several of our shows here at MTS, and looks forward to helping our theater grow from behind the scenes as a director on the board. He is thankful for the support of his lovely wife of 22 years, Angi, and their three amazing children.

Danny McBride

Director

[email protected]

Ashli Saenz

Director

Ashli Saenz has been an active member in Albuquerque classical arts for nearly two decades as both a professional opera singer and music enthusiast. Growing up in NM and attending UNM has given her the opportunity to meet many of the incredibly talented musicians around town. Ashli has a Master of Business with certifications in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and related subjects. It is her passion to ensure she is doing all she can to make MTS the most inclusive and equitable theater in New Mexico.

Ashli Saenz

Director

[email protected]

Raul Saenz

Director

Raul was born in El Paso, Tx but has lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 2010. He graduated from Cathedral High School in El Paso, TX and attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM where he majored with a bachelor’s in Business Administration in 2013. He is nearing completion of his Master’s in Business Administration from Western Governors University and wants to help Musical Theater Southwest expand and further their success. Currently, Raul is a program manager for the government bringing experience and professionalism. His admiration and dedication to music comes from having sung in high school in the All-Men’s Choir as a bass and his wife, Ashli Saenz, who is a professional opera singer. He is excited to be a part of MTS as the Amigos Committee Chair.

Raul Saenz

Director

[email protected]

John Shelton

Director

John Shelton is a local actor, singer and community servant. John is a native Buqueno, and began his relationship with MTS, in ACLOA’s 1977 production of Oliver, as
liver. John has been performing on and off for more than four decades. Some of John’s artistic highlights include a guest appearance on Grizzly Adams and singing with Barry Manilow and the rock band Foreigner. John is also a member of the New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus and serves as Music Director at Metropolitan Community church. John is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and has spent the last 10 years of a 30-year career at Cedars-Sinai Medical Canter, in Los Angeles California as manager for government programs and collections, before retiring and returning to New Mexico in 2010.

John Shelton

Director

[email protected]

Our Staff

Launa Berger

Office Manager

Luana C. Berger is our new Office Coordinator. Luana is a classical singer, actor, director, stage manager, choreographer, and all-around nerd. She has performed with Opera West, Santa Fe Symphony Chorus, Revolutions International Theater Festival, the Early Byrd Consort of Viols, the Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera Southwest, Musical Theater Southwest, and the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. She is a guest singer with the Tuscon based Irish band, The Out of Kilters, and in her spare time enjoys singing covers of her favorite rock and heavy metal bands. She is also a gymnastics coach, choreographer, and a nationally accredited Level 10
women’s gymnastics judge. She holds a BS in Astrophysics from New Mexico Tech.

Launa Berger

Office Manager

[email protected]

Theresa Carson

Theatre Manager

Theresa A. Carson is our new Theatre Manager. Theresa is an Adjunct Instructor with the UNM Department of Theatre and Dance. She recently moved to Albuquerque from Durango, CO, where she was visiting Faculty in the Theatre Department at Fort Lewis College. Previously, she served as Artistic Director and Theatre Manager for the Durango Arts Center (DAC) for 5 years as well as Artistic Director of Sandstone Productions (Farmington, NM) for 6 years. She has taught at Minnesota State University Moorhead and San Juan College (Farmington, NM). She earned a B.A. from the University of Iowa in Theatre Arts: Acting and Communication Studies and a M.F.A. from the University of Utah in Theatre Arts: Directing. She has been with her wonderful partner for 18 years, and loves to cook, dance, hike, and read (long novels!).

Theresa Carson

Theatre Manager

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Gwen Garger

Production Coordinator

Gwen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Adams State University, with emphases in Design & Technical Theatre, Creative Collaboration, and Performance. They have stage managed a wide variety of productions including traditional plays, devised work, and the Neo- Futurists’ Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Gwen has served as Light Designer for upwards of ten productions. Their production management experience is highlighted by their recent work as Production Stage Manager of Adams State University’s Theatre, as well as serving as Master Electrician for two years. Gwen is delighted to be continuing their career in production management as Production Coordinator with Musical Theatre Southwest.

Gwen Garger

Production Coordinator

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Samuel Strasser

Technical Director

Samuel Strasser was born and raised on the west side of Albuquerque where he graduated from Cibola High School. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Master of Architecture from the University of New Mexico. He intends to utilize the skills he learned in architecture school to help him problem solve both creative and analytical solutions for the theatre. With a can-do attitude and problem-solving focus, he intends to bring a new set of useful skills as the Technical Director to the already talented staff at Musical Theatre Southwest. In addition to Sam’s architecture and theatre endeavors, he finds time to sing with the Gay Men’s Chorus.

Samuel Strasser

Technical Director

[email protected]