SDSU New Musical Initiative Selects Next World Premiere Musical
The SDSU School of Theatre, Television, and Film has announced the latest pick for the MFA Musical Theatre program’s New Musical Initiative. Out of 163 submissions, the New Musical Initiative unanimously chose In a Sunshine State as this year’s selection. Over the next two years director Stephen Brotebeck, music director Robert Meffe, and the MFA Musical Theatre cohort will develop the show for a spring 2024 debut.
Written by T.C. Lind, Derek Gregor, and Phoebe Kreutz, In a Sunshine State is set in 1950s Florida and captures untold moments of Queer history. The story follows English Professor Evelyn Pierce as she falls into an unexpected romance with the new dean at her university, Betty Kincaid. The two set on a path of self discovery that is interrupted by a state committee’s investigation of Communism at the university, threatening their romance and careers.
"We only wish that In a Sunshine State were not so relevant for our times," says music director Robert Meffe. "This piece was unanimously chosen by our selection committee for its powerful themes, thoughtful story, and well-crafted music and lyrics."
In a collaborative statement, writers T.C. Lind, Phoebe Kurtz, and Derek Gregor said, “At a time of immense political and cultural divide in our nation, coincided with a revitalized movement against the LGBTQ+ community (specifically in our education system), our story compels its protagonist, and the audience, to think critically about their own willingness to 'do the right thing' when doing so could ruin their lives. Most importantly, it seeks to honor the hundreds of queer lives ruined by the notorious Florida Legislative Investigation Committee—and the lives of countless other queer people, yesterday and today, hidden in the shadows, resisting in the only way they can.”
The cast of In a Sunshine State will feature graduate students from SDSU’s MFA Musical Theatre program. The 2024 class includes Van Angelo, Justin Brill, Lindsey Grant, Zakk Mannella, Natalie McClure, Wilfred Paloma, and Sarah Salonga.
The SDSU New Musical Initiative is supported by Julia R. Brown New Musical Theatre fund. Past artists have included Lynne Shankel, Crystal Skillman, Bobby Cronin, Caroline Prugh, Ryan Scott Oliver, BD Wong, Wayne Barker, Michael Federico and Home for Hovercraft band members Seth and Sean Magill.