Press & Photos

The Garden Players Receives 2020 Best of Queens Award

QUEENS March 17, 2020 — The Garden Players has been selected for the 2020 Best of Queens Award in the Performing Arts Group category by the Queens Award Program.

“Each year, the Queens Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Queens area a great place to live, work and play.” – Queens Award Program

Our Widely Produced Original Musicals
Every year we create an original musical, written for the Garden Players kids, inspired by the events and stories around us. Five of our musicals have been published and performed in over 1,500 productions in 65 countries and nearly every U.S. state including the NYC Broadway Musical Theater Festival. These musicals are published and available at Beat by Beat Press. Our musical We Are Monsters (published by Beat by Beat Press, written by Betina Hershey and Denver Casado) has even been mentioned by Tony-nominated Broadway actor Patrick Meyers on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

I  love the experience, seeing everything come together, from just seeing the script to being all memorized and on cue. When we make mistakes we can laugh together. It’s a fun second family.” – Caitlin

I’ve been in Garden Players for 6 years. I used to be really shy but it’s really helped me speak up.” – Amelia

Kids love Garden Players!  In their own words (from the interview video below)
Find a community of friends
Learn to be brave
Step into the spotlight.
Theater spreads messages.
The show looks like Broadway.
It’s a really good way to socialize.
Open up from the heart, make people laugh, stop feeling shy. There are no bullies in the acting universe, everyone’s friendly. Work together, collaborate, and save each other.
Everybody gets an equal part in a completely original play.
Be onstage, learn how to practice, use techniques to become a professional actress. Betina never gives up and understands your mistakes. The class is really hard but that’s good because then students get even better!
This is my future. I can express who I actually am. Whenever I perform I show the optimistic version of myself.
If you’re feeling nervous, remember, everybody out there has come to see you. It’s your night!

Magic It Up…

Book writer, lyricist, director Betina Hershey and composer Sunny Knable talk about how they created their recent Garden Players original musical and share some highlights from Magic It Up 2019:


The first semester our classes work on acting improvisations, working towards making big choices, trusting their instincts, working together as a group, and using their imaginations.

Our Benefit Concert is usually held in January, and the students have 3 rehearsals only to prepare… an exciting and invigorating process.  We have done concerts concentrating on Beetles songs, 1920’s jazz, and more.  This video is from a year when the students performed a concert version of The Noble Gnarble, a 20 minute musical based on the childrens book of the same name.  It’s incredible how much material they learned in just 3 hour long classes!

The second semester the group puts on a fully staged and costumed original musical to packed houses.  More than 5 musicals have gone on to be published by Beat By Beat Press and then performed all over the world. Here is the full experience of our 2017 premiere of Your Turn, A Superhero Musical!

Switch It Off… 

May 2017. What are the real benefits of musical theater? How do kids feel about themselves when they put on a show? Sara of Little Comb Productions interviewed some of the Garden Players actors. Here is what they have to say.

What If? Dress Rehearsal & Interviews... Take a look at this 15 minute documentary with a back stage view of what we do, hearing from the actors, director, musical director, and more.


Parent and Student Testimonials

Betina Hershey #Kudos You’re an #OutsideTheBoxThinker and #InspirationalLeader We are so lucky to have you in our neighborhood. You truly did a great job putting on this year’s “virtual performance”!!! You really pulled it together and you made sure that everyone was included at the level they wished to be. You learned new technology along the way and brought the kids along as well. Here’s to you for making lemonade from lemons! Great job! Thank you!

  • JP (Parent) June 2020

Thank you for all you do to make the Garden players such an amazing experience for our children. The show was just fantastic! Loved the story and the music. Please know that you give the children as well as their parents a lot of happiness.

  • Robin

The gratitude we feel towards Lily for recommending Garden Players when Nate was six years old and towards Betina who has shared part of herself for a decade is always remembered and cherished.

The lifetime benefits of musical theater that Nathan, Sophia and Austin have experienced are daily seen by us every time they: prepare for a class presentation, try out for a club, get through an interview, have a conversation with a new friend or an adult, and the best time when they come home to tell their tales.

  • Tania LoPinto

You’re the one who nurtured and inspired their creativity, letting them know that whatever they want to do, they can do.

  • Britta

My favorite part of being in Garden Players is the originality and then watching the shows come together.

The shows helped me be just a little more outgoing. People call me “thoughtful,” but that may just be code for “shy,” and so if anyone out there is also “thoughtful,” Garden Players may be for you!

  • Grace

Stella is not what I would consider a natural extrovert, but she comes alive on stage. Her confidence, excellent public speaking skills, and delivery and timing are all a result of your amazing program.

  • Jaisi

No matter what they end up doing in life, the confidence that you fostered and cared for will always be with them.  They enjoyed every minute of every year and made many friends along the way.

It has been a huge pleasure for us as a family to be involved with the Garden Players and I know our kids will continue to go back every year to help you with the shows.

  • Miriam

Raphy has learned so much and has such a good time with the other kids. Garden Players gave her a sense of self-confidence and poise. The games and singing and learning lines helped her memory. The interaction through improv forces her to think on her feet and be conscious of others. And…she has fun! In other words: Wow, has this been a great experience!

  • Robin

Shea absolutely loved being in the play and still is singing and saying lines from the play every day. Thanks to you I feel Shea has found something she really loves and enjoys.

  • Bennett

I caught the opening performance of Space Pirates at the Community House. It was a wonderful show, lots of fun, well written and staged. Above all, the energy of the kids and their commitment to the make-believe fun, made it an unexpectedly rewarding evening. Really nice musical numbers too. So thank you for presenting such a fun show.

  • Raul

When ever we play with thought of moving from the neighborhood I feel that the only thing that will be hard to replace will be your classes.

  • Daphna

My daughter studied with The Garden Players from age 6 until she was a teen and loved it! Betina Hershey then invited her and other Garden Players alumni to help backstage at performances. Michaela went on to attend a professional performing arts high school and just received her BFA in Theatre Performance.

While Ms. Hershey’s accomplishments on the stage are impressive, what she most importantly brings to her students are the tools to create for themselves. Her energy is enormous and she treats her young pupils with warmth and respect.

In these  topsy-turvy times kids could definitely benefit from an arts program that is both innovative and well established. I recommend The Garden Players Musical Theater for Kids.

  • Alison Pascuzzi (Parent) September 2020

My daughter began with Garden Players in first grade and in the three years since, I’ve seen her blossom in creativity and confidence!  Ms. Bettina is such a warm, encouraging presence, and the kids have a blast.  Since the classes went online due to the pandemic, Garden Players has been a lifeline that kept her connected, engaged, and inspired.  I can’t recommend Garden Players highly enough!!

  • Laura (Parent) September 2020

The Garden Players is a true neighbor gem! Betina Hershey is one of a kind—patient, innovative, and talented. My three daughters studied with Betina and each have had such wonderful experiences. The classes are so fun and it’s so great to see the student’s confidence grow with each semester. My one daughter graduated the program in 8th grade and was so committed to Garden’s Players that she stayed with the program throughout high school as an assistant. She learned so much as a student and then really had so much appreciation to see the show come together from start to finish. The program is a great way to meet friends in the neighborhood and beyond. Garden Players helps young people to build confidence, express themselves creatively and work together to create a fantastic show!

  • Eileen (Parent to 3 Garden Players actors) September 2020



 SHOWS in the NEWS

All of our Queens Gazette articles can be found here

Magic It Up, 2019 (Queens Gazette)

Garden Players singing at Flag Day 2019

Switch It Off, 2018

Your Turn, A Superhero Musical!, 2017

What If?, 2016

Lemontales, 2015

Broadway World  features our Garden Players in photos of  Space Pirates!

Garden Players singing at Flag Day 2015

Space Pirates 2014 production had a wonderful article in the Queens Gazette written by Alena Gerst.

Our Benefit Concert this January 19th, 2014, received a rousing review by Liz Mooney in Tower Topics.

Director Betina Hershey Interview, July 2013

The Most Epic Birthday Party Ever, 2013

The Grunch, 2012

Musicville High, 2011

We Are Monsters, 2010

America’s Top Ensemble, 2009

Behind The Scenes, 2008

Space Pirates, 2007

Musicville, 2006

Finding Home, 2005

The Big Leap, 2005

Lemontales, 2004