SDSU MFA Musical Theatre Program Launches New Musical Initiative With 'Til Death Do Us Part'

The San Diego State University MFA Musical Theatre Program has launched an innovative two-year development program dedicated to fostering the creation of new musicals. The SDSU MFA New Musical Initiative was conceived with the idea of helping musical theatre writers develop a new work through a two-year process including a reading (fall 2018), a workshop (spring 2019) and a full production (spring 2020).

After a competitive submission process, which saw over 100 new scripts and scores, the selection committee chose 'Til Death Do Us Part by Bobby Cronin and Caroline Prugh. Mr. Cronin and Ms. Prugh will work directly with MFA Musical Theatre students and select undergraduate students to rehearse and present a staged reading of this new musical on Friday, November 9 at 4pm on the stage of the Don Powell Theatre on the SDSU campus. Professor Stephen Brotebeck will direct the reading with musical direction by Professor Robert Meffe.

Head of the MFA Musical Theatre Program, Robert Meffe says, "In my experience working with new musicals, what is missing is a sense of continuity as a piece is written and rewritten. This two-year process gives the writers the valuable chance to develop their work with the same cast and creative team."

The SDSU reading of 'Til Death Do Us Part is honored to be the recipient of a National Alliance for Musical Theatre Writers Residency Grant.

The SDSU Musical Theatre Program is dedicated to creating a space for musical theatre writers to develop and try out new material. There is also no better way for students to apply theory to practice than by helping to create new work. Everybody wins: artists get to hear their work and students get to experience first hand just what goes into creating a new musical. Past artists have included Ryan Scott Oliver, BD Wong, Wayne Barker, Michael Federico and Home for Hovercraft band members Seth and Sean Magill.

'Til Death Do Us Part - Plot Summary

Gracie Jean, a spitfire from hardscrabble Tennessee, is called to preach God's grace and is encouraged by her father to follow her dream, despite resistance from their community. Matthew, heir apparent to small town Evangelical royalty, struggles to rebel against his father's traditions while maintaining the privilege of his birth. When these two meet, it's love at first sight. But as familial and societal pressures mount, their fairytale marriage transforms into a battle of the sexes. Inspired by a 2006 true crime, this 12-person musical with a contemporary, country-gospel-influenced score investigates the complications women's ambition poses to institutions that served to subjugate them for centuries. Are there limits to the "all" love can conquer in marriage?

'Til Death Do Us Part - Author Bios

Bobby Cronin (music and lyrics) is the award-winning composer/lyricist of: Mary and Max (World Premiere at Theatre Calgary fall 2018, Pace New Musicals winner 2017/2018, MUT Critic's Prize in Germany 2018, and 2017 finalist for SigWorks, DC); The Concrete Jungle (London, International Cast Recording on all digital platforms); 'Til Death Do Us Part with bookwriter Caroline Prugh (winner 2018 SDSU New Works Award); Daybreak (US & London); and currently writing book, music & lyrics for: #W2ML a new pop-rock musical and Psykidz (A Class Act NY commission); music & lyrics for Olisnach featuring Ali Stroker (Spring Awakening, Glee) book by Crystal Skillman; and the music for Christine Toy Johnson's Till Soon, Anne (recent NYC reading starring Beautiful's Abby Mueller).

Bobby has written scores/songs for many award-winning short films and webseries. He did a European Concert Tour in 2017 and has had his songs performed all over the world from China to Australia, Japan to Germany, LA to Paris. He is on faculty at New York Film Academy's Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre. Graduate of Yale University where he won the Michael P. Manzella Award for Excellence in the Arts, Scholastics, and Character. Bobby was recently was part of the "From Broadway with Love" concert at for Florida's Stoneman Douglas School where Christy Altomare performed a song Bobby wrote with a current Stoneman Douglas student Ally Reichard. As a side passion, Bobby is active in the animal rescue community where fosters and rescues dogs. www.BobbyCronin.com

Caroline Prugh (book) is a Brooklyn-based writer for the stage: plays, musicals, dance theater and opera. Recent New York productions include You Will Never Read This (co-written with Cat Miller as miller.prugh; LadyFest 2017 at The Tank), the musical Pinwheel! (2015 NYIT Outstanding Musical Nomination, random access theatre), and the plays: It's Only Kickball, Stupid (kef productions, The Advocate: NYC Lesbian Stage Highlights of 2014), No Provenance (written with Kate Holland & produced by Justin Cornell/FringeNYC 2014), and Clear Cold Place (vilde chaya collective & David Carpenter). As a songwriter, 54 Below/David Carpenter and New Georges have presented her work.

Recent readings/workshops include: Frances Martin is Lily Worthington (co-written with Jessica Beth Reddish), Glorious Disaster (29th Street Playwrights Collective 2018 Series at The Bernie Wohl Center), Prudence (Miranda Theatre Company's 2018 Liz Smith Reading Series), Immerwahr (also by miller.prugh; Drama League First Stage Residency, 2017, reading at The Tank, March 2018), Gertrude Stein, You Are Mine, Gertrude Stein (2017 HERstory at IRT), Night at the Big Chief Motel (Holland New Voices Award, 2016 Great Plains Theatre Conference) and 'Til Death Do Us Part (with composer/lyricist Bobby Cronin) 2016 Overtures Series at The Gallery Players (directed by Kent Nicholson).

Her dance/musical theater piece Decline & Fall; or A Guide to How the End Begins for Those Too Big to Fail (co-conceived and directed by Simón Hanauki; choreographed by Lisa Nevada) was initially developed during Mr. Hanauki's 2050 Residency at NYTW and received a workshop production at Tricklock Theater Company in Albuquerque, NM.

She spent her first decade in NYC at Stuart Thompson Productions as part of the general management team for 25 Broadway productions including the Tony Award winning plays: Proof, Take Me Out, Doubt, and God of Carnage.

Amherst College (BA), Columbia (MFA).

The SDSU Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree in Musical Theatre in the School of Theatre, Television, and Film has helped hundreds of people establish life-long careers as musical theatre artists. Many of our graduates have used this terminal degree to teach in musical theatre programs in schools and universities worldwide. Others have gone on to become professional performers, directors, choreographers, music directors, producers, casting agents, and writers. The SDSU MFA Musical Theatre program is a National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) member.

At SDSU we strive to bring the professional world of musical theatre together with the academic world of the university. Our students bring their professional experience to us, and together we develop the skills needed to carry it forward.

This program, which began accepting students in 1982, is unique in its integration of performance training with academic study. It is a two-year MFA program designed so that students can complete 60 units of study in four consecutive 15-week semesters, with one summer break, during which students complete a theatre internship.

The SDSU MFA Musical Theatre program is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.

San Diego State University is a major public research institution that provides transformative experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom, for its 35,000 students. The university offers bachelor's degrees in 94 areas, master's degrees in 78 areas and doctorates in 22 areas. Students participate in research, international experiences, sustainability and entrepreneurship initiatives, and a broad range of student life and leadership opportunities. The university's rich campus life features opportunities for students to participate in, and engage with, the creative and performing arts, a Division I athletics program and the vibrant cultural life of the San Diego region. For more information, visit www.sdsu.edu.

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