Cuts May Silence SDSU Musical Theatre Program

Master's Program Is Only One Of Its Kind In Country

San Diego State University's master's degree program in musical theatre faces an uncertain future due to budget cuts.

"We are the only program in the country that's doing what we're doing," said Rick Simas, co-director of the program.

The program recruits 10 student performers from across the country and immerses them in performance, musical theatre techniques and history. Part of it is developing performers, but a big part is training the young people to be educators, to teach this uniquely American art form in colleges across the country.

However, state budget cuts have created a major problem.

At the start of the school year, SDSU told the program, in essence, to raise $200,000 on its own to keep the program alive. The students took it upon themselves to raise money by starting a Facebook page and performing all over San Diego.

They wound up raising about $100,000.

"Who will teach the musical theatre history and the musical theatre performance?" said student Nancy Snow Carr. "Right now it will be us, so if we lost this program, it would be devastating."

Student Brandon Maier agreed, and told 10News, "I think it would be a travesty if this program were to go away. We're the only one left. That's insane."

The program has gotten a bit of a reprieve, for now. One more class of 10 students will enter in the fall and complete the two-year program. After that, there are no guarantees. Right now they have alumni performing on Broadway and many more teaching in universities across the country.

"I think it's really important what we're doing," said Simas. "I do worry about the future of musical theatre in this country if we don't continue this program."

Alumni of the program who are working in New York City recently put on a benefit for the SDSU program. The hope is that the program will be able to get an endowment, so it's stable for years to come.