The Most Epic Garden Players Concert Ever Artists

Garden Players Director & Music Director Bios

Betina Hershey (Director, Producer, Choreographer, Composer, Book & Lyrics Writer Garden Players 2004-Present) is an award winning performer, writer, musician, and educator who loves encouraging others to express themselves and discover bravery through music, song, dance, writing and theater. Betina has led the Garden Players Musical Theater Program for Kids (Awarded Best Of Queens 2020) in Forest Hills, NYC since 2003, and was involved with GP since 2001 when she played Peter Pan, directed to Jeff Edmond, musical directed by Susanna Fischoff. Through Garden Players she has written original musicals inspired by and written for kids. Five of her musicals have been published by Beat by Beat Press with over 2,000 performances in 65 countries. She is an alumna of the of the Tony award-winning BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, where she met collaborators Gwynne Watkins (book) and Denver Casado (music). She has written her five most recent musicals with composer Sunny Knable.
Betina’s songwriting career includes co-leading various bands as a vocalist/guitarist/songwriter. Her own original music can be heard in The Scooches album Lift You Up, #1 on the July 2023 FAI Folk Charts, and Get Us Out Of Fearland, #2 under John Prine on the FAI Folk Charts. Her 1920’s band Hot Jazz Jumpers received rave reviews in Downbeat Magazine and London Times for the album Very Next Thing. Her debut album entitled I Wish I Could Stay (released in 2000) was played on college radio and brought her to perform at the legendary Bottom Line and WFUV radio in NYC. 
Betina has had a long and varied career as a dancer/actor/singer, receiving a Young Arts Awards in Dance (Tap), performing as Meg in the National Broadway tour of Phantom of the Opera, Anybody’s in West Side Story, and appearing as principal dancer in feature films: Julia Roberts' Mona Lisa Smile and in Disney's Enchanted. She is delighted to create new works and see her students grow, create and thrive.

Sunny Knable (Composer, Garden Players Music Director 2015-2023) is an award-winning composer, a multi-instrumental performer, an educator, and an author of multiple essays and books.  Knable’s music has been described as "genius" (Anchorage Press), "great!" (TheWholeNote), “well-crafted” (NY Concert Review), "entertaining" (Audiophile Audition), "witty, romantic and lilting" (, offering up "sparks of color and inventiveness" (Sacramento Bee), and possessing a "wealth of thematic invention" (  His prolific output is widely performed, including works for solos, chamber music, orchestra, theatre, and opera.  Dr. Knable serves as Music Director of The Church-in-the-Gardens and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Queens College and LaGuardia Community College.  He holds a PhD from Stony Brook University, a Master of Arts from Queens College, and a Bachelor of Music degree from CSU Sacramento.  His discography includes his debut album American Variations on Centaur Records, his second composition album Song of the Redwood Tree on MSR Classics, and his third composition album Keys on Trouvère Records.  His bassoon works are published by TrevCo-Varner Music.  All other works are published by Trouvère Music Publishing.  He is the editor of the book Looking Within: The Music of John Palmer and the author of The Quarantine Chronicle of a Composer on Vision Edition, UK.  He resides in Forest Hills, NY, with his wife, son, and cat. 

Denver Casado (Composer, Garden Players Music Director 2005-2014) is thrilled to be back in Forest Hills with the Garden Players! Denver is an award-winning musical theatre composer & lyricist. His 23 musicals have received over 6,500 productions in 75 countries around the globe (6 he wrote with Betina and premiered with the Garden Players!) Denver founded Beat by Beat Press, a children’s musical theatre publishing/licensing company, after working with the Garden Players with the goal of creating a refreshing new catalogue of musicals for kids to perform. He’s incredibly grateful to Betina, the Garden Players students, and the entire Forest Hills community for helping to shape so much of what he loves doing today. Denver is an alumnae of the Tony award-winning BMI Musical Theatre Workshop and holds a degree in Music Technology and Composition from New York University.

Alumni include Alyssa Lin, Ash Rasputnis, Autumn Clarke, Benny Wilkinson, Caitlin Burke, Carina Kahane, Caroline Itskov, Chase Goldberg Friedman, Elliot Nieva, Gabriel Kahane, Gianny Alyssa Diaz, Isabella Perkins, Jack Yasharian, Jane Brooks, Liren Zhao, Luke Kuniya, Mark Perkins, Michaela Pascuzzi, Michelle Garcia, Nicholas Bompart, Nicollette Barsamian, Rajan Worden, Scarlett Razzo, Brandon Razzo, Seriana Russo, and more.