Whether composing a rock musical or an opera, for a women's chorus marching on NYC or a play at the UK's National Theatre, composer Sarah Taylor Ellis puts soaring, storytelling melodies and a distinctive choral sound at the heart of her music. Her work aims to embrace the inherent hybridity and multiplicity of musical theater as an art form. Recent musical compositions include original feminist rock musical These Girls Have Demons (in development with Pittsburgh CLO), hybrid musical/chamber opera The Trojan Women (recipient of a 2019 OPERA America Discovery Grant), Hamlet for young audiences at the UK’s National Theatre, and a contemporary classical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma.
As a musical director, Sarah has worked on classic and new musicals, plays with music, actor-muso pieces, and concerts in venues including the UK National Theatre, 54 Below, Two River Theater, and universities and schools across the US and UK. Sarah is also the Music Supervisor for the cult favorite Fellowship! The Musical Parody of The Fellowship of the Ring. 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 was published by Methuen Drama in early 2022.
Sarah is also an interdisciplinary teaching artist with experience from elementary school to university level. She has taught for Universität Bayreuth, ArtsEd, The University of Chester, The Nightingale-Bamford School, The Metropolitan Opera Guild, Roundabout Theatre Company, and UCLA. She holds a Ph.D. in Theater & Performance Studies from UCLA and a B.A. in Theater Studies/Music and English from Duke University.