San Diego State University New Musical Initiative Selects IN A SUNSHINE STATE For World Premiere

In A Sunshine State is a historical romance set in late 1950's Florida during one of the most harrowing and untold moments in American queer history.

By: Jun. 20, 2022
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San Diego State University New Musical Initiative Selects IN A SUNSHINE STATE For World Premiere

Out of 163 submissions, the San Diego State University New Musical Initiative has chosen In a Sunshine State as this year's selection. Writers T.C. Lind, Derek Gregor, and Phoebe Kreutz will join with director Stephen Brotebeck, music director Robert Meffe and the SDSU MFA Musical Theatre cohort for a two-year development process and world premiere in the spring of 2024.

In A Sunshine State is a historical romance set in late 1950's Florida during one of the most harrowing and untold moments in American queer history. Evelyn Pierce, a reclusive yet fiercely intelligent English professor, secretly falls in love with the strident new dean at her university, Betty Kincaid. The two set off on a path of self-discovery and bliss while a state committee and its corrosive chief officer investigate claims of Communism at the University, threatening their careers and their love affair.

"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." - T.C. Lind, Phoebe Kurtz, and Derek Gregor

"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."

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.

The principal cast will feature the MFA Musical Theatre graduate students whose collective work spans Broadway, international, and regional/local productions. The 2024 class includes Van Angelo, Justin Brill, Lindsey Grant, Zakk Mannella, Natalie McClure, Wilfred Paloma, and Sarah Salonga.

T.C. Lind is a playwright, screenwriter, and speechwriter, whose work for special events and galas include Lincoln Center's Inaugural Hall of Fame Awards, The Hispanic Heritage Awards, the Giving Pledge Foundation's Annual Gala, and The Anti-Defamation League's Concert Against Hate. This is his first musical.

Phoebe Kreutz is a singer/songwriter/lyricist from New York City. Over the years, she's brought her irreverent joke-folk tunes to a zillion bars all over America and Europe. Most recently, her EP "Leaky Canoe was released by Frankfurt's Lousy Moon Records. Phoebe has also written and co-written several new musicals including The Nice List (which was produced Zoom-style during the pandemic and starred James Monroe Iglehart, Ann Harada and Telly Leung) Holy Crap: The Worst Parts of the Bible, Thanks" and Go! Go! Gilgamesh! - which won Best Musical and the Participant's Choice Award at NYC's Frigid Fest. A revue of her songs called Awesomer & Awesomer (created by Alan Muraoka) will be mounted this summer at the Legacy Theater. A member of the BMI Advanced Workshop, she's a recipient of the Harrington Award, the Ellen Schwartz Award for Literary Merit in Lyrics and a grant from the NY Society Library. And because life is strange, Phoebe may be best known as the "Pizza Nico" in Macaulay Culkin's controversial parody band "The Pizza Underground". Go figure.

Derek Gregor is an NYC-based composer for the stage and screen. He wrote the original songs for the upcoming feature film American Reject: Keala Settle, Rebecca Black, Annaleigh Ashford, Angelica Hale, Juvenile, Billy Ray Cyrus (Selda Sahin lyrics). His musical Modern about a group of Amish teens on Rumspringa has received development at Village Theatre Seattle, ASCAP "Grow A Show" Lincoln, Nebraska, the Stephen Schwartz Workshop NYC, San Diego State U, USC and will have its first workshop/production in Jan 2022 at the Bloomington Playwrights Project. Derek is a recipient of a Richard Rodgers award, a John Wallowitch award and a MAC award. His musical Unlock'd (Sam Carner lyrics) received an extended Off-Broadway run at the Duke Theatre (2013). Derek has been in residence at Yaddo, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Johnny Mercer at Goodspeed, and Hundredth Hill Farm. He is a proud graduate of Skidmore College and the NYU Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

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 since its founding in 1981. 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.

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


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