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Sarah Taylor Ellis is Co-Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in Musical Theatre at University Centre Shrewsbury. Her research focuses on queer temporalities and the aesthetics of the musical, and she is an active musical theatre composer currently collaborating on These Girls Have Demons, The Trojan Women, and a steampunk Regency adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma.

What is a typical day at work for you?

There is no typical day, which keeps both the students and staff on their toes (sometimes literally)! On any given day, we flow seamlessly from rehearsing small group musical scenes (Merrily We Roll Along! The Hunchback of Notre Dame! Waitress!) to practicing good audition technique to having in-depth conversations about representations of gender and sexuality in diva musicals.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The students are so kind, committed, and collaborative; they keep me going!

What has been your proudest moment whilst working at the university?

Our first-year students wrote book, music, and lyrics for original 15-minute musicals that they also directed, choreographed, and performed in – all within the first five weeks of uni! I was overwhelmed by their creativity and talent.

Do you have any exciting upcoming projects?

I am currently composing a feminist rock musical called These Girls Have Demons, which is about a group of teenagers that dabble in the occult one night and accidentally become possessed by… well… demons, which enable them to express all the rage, sexuality, and sheer feeling they have been taught to repress as well-behaved little girls. My collaborator Meghan Brown and I have been working on Demons for about a year now, and it is getting darker and wilder by the minute. We can’t wait for our next reading, which is at Pittsburgh CLO in April 2019.

What is the best thing about the course?

Musical theatre at UCS is incredibly student-centred; the tutors all truly value the students’ voices, and it feels like we are co-creating the course together.

If you could have a superpower what would you choose?

I might take a cue from Dr. Horrible and stop time...

What might people not know about you?

I was born and raised in Albemarle, NC. When I moved to LA for grad school, I remember going to the Hollywood Bowl for the first time and realizing that there were more people watching the concert that night than living in my entire hometown!

What is the best piece of advice that you could give to a student?

“Happiness is equilibrium. Shift your weight.”

 

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