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SDSU production selected for Kennedy Center festival

The San Diego State University (SDSU) School of Theatre, Television and Film’s September production of Dear Harvey will participate in the Southwest Regional Finals for the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) being held in St. George, Utah in early February. If the show does well in Utah, the production will move to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in April.

Originally commissioned by San Diego’s Diversionary Theatre, SDSU alumnae Patricia Loughrey’s original play Dear Harvey had its world premiere at Diversionary in April 2009. The production includes original music by current SDSU student Thomas Hodges, uses historical photos of Harvey Milk by Daniel Nicoletta, and was first directed by Diversionary’s executive and artistic director, Dan Kirsch.

Drawn from more than 30 interviews conducted by the Loughrey, Dear Harvey recounts the achievements and vision of the first openly gay man elected to a major public office in the United States. A drag queen, a state senator, an international gay rights activist, a 19-year-old composer—the play weaves these voices and more with the personal and political writings of Harvey Milk to paint a portrait of a leader, and a vision for equality. Supported by photos from Milk’s friends and family, Dear Harvey celebrates the stories not found in history books: stories of a love that reached beyond fear.

The SDSU production, directed by Peter Cirino, featured John Alspaugh, Shane Blackburn, Crystal Brandan, Emily Davenport, Ken Hodges, Courtney Howard, Diahann McCrary, Kristin McReddie, Bailey Neill, Anthony Simone, Derek Smith, Jon Wat, Berlyn Wieland and Jacqui Yawn. The show played to sold-out, standing ovation crowds during its run at SDSU.

Patricia Loughrey’s script for Dear Harvey is entered in KCACTF Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards Program and is under consideration for several awards including the David Mark Cohen Award; the Rosa Parks Playwriting Award; and the Paula Vogel Award. In addition, three SDSU students are up for Irene Ryan acting awards for their roles in Dear Harvey, including Anthony Simone for his portrayal of Nicole Murray-Ramirez; Derek Smith for his portrayal of Cleve Jones; and Diahann McCrary for her portrayal of Dottie Wine. Three members of the production have received Meritorious Achievement Awards, including Thomas Hodges for musical score; Lauren Beck for dramaturgy; and Lila “Lace” Flores for lighting design.

SDSU is now fundraising to get the production to Utah. A tax-deductible donation of $457 will completely underwrite one actor’s expense for the entire week of the regional festival, including hotel, registration fees, acting workshops, transportation and a few meals. There are 14 actors and two stage managers traveling to Utah. To help send this production to Utah, please call Jay Sheehan at SDSU at 619-594-4990 or via e-mail at JSheehan@mail.sdsu.edu.