Sarah Taylor Ellis
Sarah Taylor Ellis writes music that empowers female voices and blurs the boundaries among music theatre, art song, and opera. She is based in Berlin.
Sarah was the composer and musical director for The National Theatre's Hamlet for young audiences, adapted by Jude Christian with direction by Tinuke Craig. Hamlet toured London schools in February and March 2020 prior to lockdown; the play's premiere at the Dorfman was postponed due to COVID-19.
Four-time Olivier Award winner Maria Friedman starred as Hecuba in the 2019 London reading of The Trojan Women, produced by HERA and directed by Adele Thomas. With libretto by Ellen McLaughlin, this hybrid musical/chamber opera is the recipient of a 2019 OPERA America Discovery Grant. The Trojan Women had its first workshop at the New York Society Library in January 2018, directed by Obie Award winner Rachel Dickstein, and it will be produced at Columbia University in October 2021, directed by Rebecca Miller Kratzer.
These Girls Have Demons, an original feminist rock musical with book and lyrics by Ovation Award-winning playwright Meghan Brown, is currently in development with Pittsburgh CLO. The musical received a two-week workshop in Pittsburgh CLO's inaugural SPARK festival in April 2018 with direction by Kristin McCarthy Parker (Puffs); a writers' residency in August 2018; and a New Musicals Weekend reading in April 2019 directed by Ellie Heyman, Director in Residence at Joe's Pub. A two-week workshop with CCM (College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati) was postponed due to COVID-19. Towards the end of 2020, Sarah was also commissioned to write a song for Pittsburgh CLO's Songs for a New Year project; she and Meghan Brown collaborated with choreographer Stephanie Klemons (Hamilton, In the Heights) on the music video "Resolutions."
Sarah's contemporary classical adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, with book and lyrics by Meghan Brown, had a 2018 industry reading in London directed by Thom Southerland and starring Carly Bawden, Rupert Young, Alex Young, and Ashleigh Gray; Emma also had a 2017 industry reading in NYC starring Kerstin Anderson, Claybourne Elder, and Ruthie Ann Miles. Emma has been further developed with Apples and Oranges Studios (An American in Paris, Memphis, Hair) and Gallery Players in Brooklyn.
Sarah's "hauntingly beautiful" chamber musical The Yellow Wallpaper received a full production by DC's Pallas Theatre Collective in July 2014; it is featured in Literature, Film, and Their Hideous Progeny: Adaptation and ElasTEXTity. Sarah's family musical Thank You, Mr. Falker was presented as part of the 2011 LA Festival of New American Musicals. Sarah has composed songs for The Civilians' cabaret series Let Me Ascertain You at Joe's Pub, and she collaborated on an original choral piece, "We Walk Through," that kicked off the Women's March on NYC on January 21, 2017. Sarah's composition of "Mayme's Song," originally written for a star-studded reading of Intimate Apparel at NYC's Signature Theatre, has since been featured in productions across the US.
As a dramaturg, Sarah has supported the development of innovative new plays and musicals ranging from Psittacus Productions' Pulitzer Prize-nominated Cyclops: A Rock Opera to the anarchist song cycle Untuned Ears Hear Nothing But Discord, which Tony Award-winner Lindsay Mendez premiered in Lincoln Center's 2015 American Songbook Series. Sarah's theater criticism and scholarship have been published in American Theatre, L.A. Weekly, Studies in Musical Theatre, and anthologies with Palgrave and Routledge. Her monograph Doing the Time Warp: Strange Temporalities and Musical Theatre will be published by Methuen Drama in 2021.
Sarah is also an inspiring interdisciplinary teaching artist and tutor with experience from elementary school to university level in the US and UK. She has taught for ArtsEd, The University of Chester, The Nightingale-Bamford School, The Metropolitan Opera Guild, Roundabout Theatre Company, UCLA, and more. She holds a Ph.D. in Theater & Performance Studies from UCLA and a B.A. in Theater Studies/Music and English from Duke University.
- NYC/Tri-State Area
- United Kingdom
- Other Countries
Interested in touring?
- Theatrical Composer (Music only)
- Music Director/Conductor (Pianist)
- Classroom music teacher at an educational institution