American Composer Series

The Company
(in alphabetical order)

Scroll down or click on a name in the list below 
for photos and biographical information.










Anna Ewing Bull made her American Composer Series debut with Ragtime Jimmie: The Music of James V. Monaco in 2005A graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse, Anna has extensive credits in New York and regional theatre.  She has appeared in Paul Knox’s plays Kalighat and Dawn of a Solstice Night; David DeWitt’s She’s Got Character; and in her one woman show at UBU Rep, All It Takes is Something Small

Other appearances in New York include productions of King Lear; Carnal Knowledge; Top Girls; August Dreams; Ducks Crossing; Motherbird; Small World and After the Magic. She performed at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Our Town; Whose Life is It Anyway and The War of the Roses and at the Millbrook Playhouse in Noises Off and The Pirates of Penzance.  

Her film credits include Down at the Tracks; Crimes and Mis- demeanors; New York Stories; Sex and Come Back Romance…All is Forgiven. She is a company member of Circle East and The Workshop at the Neighborhood Playhouse.




Laura Leigh Davidson made her spectacular debut with the American Composer Series in the centennial salute to Harold Arlen, Wizard, performing in 2004 and 2005.  She also appeared in the 2005  American Composer Series tributes to James V. Monaco, Ragtime Jimmie,  and Victor Herbert, Sweet Mystery.   In 2006, she joined in the American Composer Series special tribute The Music of Earl Wentz.  Laura's one-woman American Composer Series show, That Certain Smile:  The Music of Sammy Fain premiered in 2007.

A former performer at Dollywood (as backup for Ms. Parton), Laura is a singer / actress / coal miner’s daughter who came to NYC by way of Big Stone Gap, Virginia. 

Roles to date include Rapunzel in Rapunzel (Mill Mountain Theatre); Gertie Cummings in Oklahoma!, Maud Dunlop in The Music Man, Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof (North Carolina Theatre); Miranda in The Tempest, Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (Barter’s First Light Theatre); and Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Somnambulist Players).


Sheryl Fields  Gospel singer Sheryl Fields (Voices of Testimony) returns to the American Composer Series in 2009 in The Darktown Strutters' Ball.  She made her cabaret debut with Jubilee: The Music of Hoagy Carmichael in 2000 and went on to appear in Wenhelm Productions’s 2002 Rodgers and Hammerstein revue, Something Wonderful.  She returned to the American Composer Series for its 2004-2005 performances of Wizard: The Music of Harold Arlen and the 2006 special tribute, The Music of Earl Wentz.  Sheryl is a soloist at John Street United Methodist Church in New York.  




Stephanie Foster-Virtue (lyricist and performer)  has appeared in American Composer Series productions of Love is Where You Find It, Serenade, and Rodgers Without the H Factor.  She has also performed solo shows extensivley on the cabaret circuit, including most recently, Stephanie in the Summer in the CitySome of Stephanie's song lyrics were part of the 2006 American Composer Series tribute to Earl Wentz.  Stephanie has danced in the companies of Twyla Tharp and Eliot Feld among others.  A personal trainer and yoga instructor, Stephanie's instructional routines are available on VHS and DVD.  


Terry Gardner  (lyricist)  Since obtaining her MFA in playwriting from UCLA long ago, Los Angeles-based Terry has been working on being an overnight success as an actress, a comic and a writer, but it’s turned out to be a very long night (though some are warmer than others). She has told jokes to late night crowds at the Improv, sold jokes to Jay Leno, and had more one acts produced than full lengths.   Her Paul Revere project began as a scene in writing class. That led to research and the discovery that Revere did more than ride a horse one chilly April night in 1775 – he fathered 16 children and had two wives.  So far Terry’s offspring are only theatrical fiction – but everybody has to start somewhere!  Several of Terry's songs from the Paul Revere show were heard in the 2007 American Composer Series tribute, The Music of Earl Wentz.


Ellen Kelly   (lyricist)  started Massachusetts's South Shore Conservatory's Musical Theatre Workshop, now known as Summer Theatre Workshop, and has run it since 1990. A Boston-area native and resident, Ellen first introduced drama to the Conservatory in 1981. Prior to her tenure at South Shore Conservatory, she worked in New York as a professional stage actress, teacher, director and stage manager. Ellen has shared her performing arts talents with students in New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. She is Adjunct Professor of Speech Communication at Massasoit Community College.  Several of Ellen's songs (with music by Earl Wentz) were performed in the 2006 American Composer Series show, The Music of Earl Wentz.

Barbara MacArthur has appeared in New York in productions of Bye Bye Birdie and Kismet. She has performed her one woman shows at many New York cabarets including Panache, The Duplex, and Don’t Tell Mama. Barbara’s other appearances in the American Composer Series include As Long As There’s Music, Jubilee, Something Wonderful, Love is Where You Find ItIt’s the Cherries, and The Music of Earl Wentz.





Joyce Moody appeared opposite Dick Van Dyke in the role of Gloria Thorpe in the national tour of Damn Yankees and in New York in the Irving Berlin tribute Say It With Music. She now lives in Philadelphia where she has been seen in many musical roles, including the Mother in Ragtime, Dolly in Hello, Dolly!, Babette in La Cage Aux Folles, and The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady at Walnut Street Theatre.  She also appeared as a guest artist with her husband, David Rubinsohn, in the Langhorne Players production of Triumph of Love.

 Joyce appeared in Rodgers Without The ‘H’ Factor for the American Composer Series in the 2002-2003 season, in Sweet Mystery in 2004-2005, and in The Music of Earl Wentz in 2006.  Joyce's one-woman show Vampin’ Lady: The Music of Milton Ager (also for the American Composer Series) played in multiple venues in 2007-2008 and is available on CD from Sixpence, Inc.


Jena Necrason  Jena is an actor, director,  choreographer, and teaching artist. Since 1991, she has lived and worked professionally in New York City.  Jena has performed in Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night among others. She has originated numerous roles in new movement theater productions for Fay Simpson's Impact Theater and has worked with Moonwork, Inc. as a choreographer and Assistant Director.  

Jena has performed with the American Composer Series in It's the Cherries, Something Wonderful, and The Music of Earl Wentz.  She is on the faculty of The Stella Adler Studio of Actingm has taught at The National Shakespeare Conservatory, and for New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Jena received a BFA from the Performing Arts Conservatory at SUNY Purchase. With her husband, John Nagle, she founded the Vermont Shakespeare Company, where she currently serves as Artistic Director.


Nicole Pacent joins the American Composer series company with her performance in 2009's The Darktown Strutters' Ball.  Her NYC theatre credits include Yoav Gal’s indie opera Mosheh (South Wing Theatre Co. at HERE); Howard Fishman’s We Are Destroyed (Galapagos Arts Space); Revenge of the Space Pandas (Atlantic Theatre Co. for Kids); Nina, The Seagull; Sammy, You Can Count on Me; Gila, One for the Road; Fabian Twelfth Night (NYU); The Shanghai Gesture (SR, Mirror Rep). Other: Maria, West Side Story, Beatrice Much Ado About Nothing, Regan, King Lear. TV: Guiding Light. Nicole currently plays 'Aster' in the series Anyone But Me on the new online network, Strike.TV. Training: BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch School of the Arts: Atlantic Acting School; International Theater Workshop, Amsterdam.


Karlton Parris  (lyricist) is the life force behind Skint Productions, a Manchester, UK-based theatre company, which he founded in 1999.  As a playwright, he has found acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic.  His plays, which have been performed throughout the UK,  include Basic Black, Some Fine Day, Guts, and a World War II trilogy:  Betty Grable's Legs, A Family of Women, and Mrs. Darling's Bed 'n' Board (the latter two having been presented at the New York Fringe Festival).  

His musicals Tricks and Kissing Ringo (both with composer Luisa Jay) have been performed in Edinburgh, London, and Liverpool.  Kissing Ringo is currently in pre-production for an anticipated New York run.  His new musical The Ripper's 5 is currently casting in Manchester.  Karlton is also busily at work on a musical theatre project in collaboration with Earl Wentz.  Several of his collaborations with Earl Wentz were heard in 2006's American Composer Series special tribute to Earl Wentz.


Ravin Patterson is an actor and singer making her cabaret debut with the American Composer Series's The Darktown Strutters' Ball.  She will be playing Arlene in Getting Out with Chelsea Repertory Company in August 2009.  Other recent New York credits include roles in Gwendolyn Brooks: The Warpland and Langston Hughes in Harlem at The Bowery Poetry Club; Norma in On the Bum for Chelsea Repertory Company; and Balthasar in Romeo and Juliet for Bushwick Shakes.  She has been happily training with Earl Wentz for over two years and has studied and graduated from The Acting Studio Inc. under the guidance of James Price and John Grabowski.  Ravin was proud to appear on the bill singing at the Acting Studio's 25th Anniversary Gala in March 2009.   Film:  Gotta Get Mine.


Jean Richards, a graduate of the Yale Drama School, has appeared on Broadway (Fiddler on the Roof, The Rothchilds) and in many off and off-off Broadway shows, both musical and non.  She also does voice-overs and writes children's books.  Jean’s debut with the American Composer Series was in Wizard: The Music of Harold Arlen.


Jo-Ann Salata joined the American Composer Series company in the 2004-2005 season with her performance in Wizard.  Off-Broadway, Jo-Ann has appeared in Dark of the Moon, The Bad Seed, Cappers (by Stu Silver), and Mr. Madonna by David Carlson at the Westbank Theater. Her feature film work includes Preppies.  Jo-Ann developed and co-taught Creative Dramatics at the Hudson Guild After- School Program through The Actors Company Theater. She is a founding member of TACT (The Actors Company Theatre), performing in more than 15 productions since its establishment in 1992.


Fay Simpson   (lyricist and performer)  has appeared in The American Composer Series productions of It’s The Cherries, With a Song in my Heart and Jubilee, as well as two solo cabaret shows created in collaboration with Earl Wentz.  She is artistic director of Impact Theatre and has choreographed and directed physical theatre productions for the past fifteen years, including two original musicals composed by Earl Wentz. Many of Fay's songs, including those from her 1997 Off-Broadway collaboration with Earl Wentz and Liam Torres, The Marital Bliss of Francis and Maxine, were heard in the American Composer Series's  2006 production of  The Music of Earl Wentz.

Fay is the founder of the physical acting technique, The Lucid Body, which she teaches at The Yale Drama School, Michael Howard Studios, Marymount Manhattan College, and Ensemble Studio Theater. She is the recipient of both The Tennessee Williams Fellowship from The University of the South, and the Fox Foundation Fellowship. She served as a Directing fellow at the New Globe Theatre in London under the guidance of Mark Rylance during the 1999 season. She has her Masters in Performance from The Gallatin School, NYU.  She is currently writing a book about The Lucid Body. 


Liam Torres    (lyricist and performer)  Liam Torres has worked with more than a dozen theatre companies and has had the privilege of working with a number of groundbreaking artists, including Michael John Garcés, Fay Simpson, Ruben Polendo, and Earl Wentz.  For the past decade, Liam has been a member of Impact Theatre Company, collaborating on several projects, including Metaphysics of a Raindance, The Marital Bliss of Francis and Maxine (Earl Wentz, composer), and his one-person show Spanish White Person.  His American Composer Series performances include Jubilee, With a Song in My Heart, and The Music of Earl Wentz.







William Watkinss  Cabaret performances in New York for the American Composer Series include Wizard: The Music of Harold Arlen; It’s the Cherries: The Music of Ray Henderson; Serenade: The Music of Harry Warren; Rodgers Without the H Factor, celebrating the music of Richard Rodgers working without Hammerstein or Hart; Ragtime Jimmie: The Music of James V. Monaco; and The Music of Earl Wentz.  He returns in 2009 in The Darktown Strutters' Ball.

Television viewers have seen him on Saturday Night Live, including  famously getting slugged by Tracy Morgan in one bit.  He has appeared regionally as Ferraillon in A Flea in Her Ear, Luke in Look Homeward Angel, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and in Zoe Caldwell’s production of Hamlet in Stratford. Bill’s novel, Cassina Gambrel Was Missing was published in 1999 and is currently being adapted for the stage. For network television, he has produced news pieces broadcast nationally on CBS.  He is a member of the Advisory Board for the York Theatre where he was an associate producer for their musical Thrill Me and producer of the 2008 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre. 


Earl Wentz began his professional career at the age of 12 and his performances—in every medium—have taken him to 48 states. He has worked as pianist, organist, actor, singer, director, conductor, arranger, composer, and teacher. Earl’s credits include guest appearances with the Nashville, Charleston, Glenn Miller, and Jan Garber Orchestras and at such varied venues as the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, the Greenbrier, and the United Nations. He has been featured on college lyceum programs and community concert series from coast to coast.  Earl received his education at Wingate University, Queens College, the University of North Carolina, and through extensive private studies. Currently he coaches and teaches vocal technique privately. 

Wentz is also the composer of the 1987 opera A Minuet, based on the play of the same name by Louis N. Parker and the controversial 1997 Off-Broadway musical The Marital Bliss of Francis and Maxine. 

Since 1993, Earl Wentz has been the organist and choirmaster at John Street Methodist Church in New York, the oldest Methodist congregation in America.  He has twice been guest artist for The Green Salon, a monthly program of The Global Change Foundation.

Among his CDs currently in print are The Piano Stylings of Earl Wentz: Traditional Christmas Favorites; Vampin’ Lady: The Music of Milton Ager, with vocalist Joyce Moody; and Visions of What Used to Be, a collection of popular songs from the World War I era, featuring vocals by Helen Breen.


Check back soon for additional information 
about the season schedule.