SDSU Opens ZANNA DON’T, Running Thru 3/18: Heartsville High Goes to College!

Zanna Don't!The San Diego State University School of Theatre, Television, and Film opened ZANNA, DON’T! for a seven show stand through March 18th at the Powell Theatre on the SDSU campus. Directed by Rick Sims, the Tim Acito and Alexander Dinelaris penned musical fable takes us to the topsy-turvy world of Heartsville High, where the chess champ is the coolest guy on campus, the captain of the football team just wants to fit in, and the students shake things up by writing a new musical called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!” about straight people in the military. A boy and girl learn about love, thanks to Zanna, a musical fairy who, with the wave of his wand, takes us to a rainbow world promoting tolerance, understanding, diversity, and love.

The SDSU cast includes Tom Vendafreddo as Zanna, Mike Potter as Steve, Bethany Elkin as Kate, Tim Allen as Mike, Kati Donovan as Roberta, Marcos Melero as Tank, Mitzi Michaels as Candi, Roger Ellis as Buck, and ensemble players Allison Boettcher, Jessica Christman, Jeremy Davies, Krista Feallock, and Taylor Richardson.

According to the school’s website, the Mission of the School of Theatre, Television, and Film is to provide quality education on the undergraduate and graduate levels for students seeking careers in all areas of live theatre and the moving arts; to support the University’s central mission to educate the whole person in the liberal arts tradition; and to foster academic and creative interaction between established and emerging artists on campus and off.

The Theatre Program provides its students with an understanding of the great legacy of dramatic literature, technical skills as they relate to public performance, training in critical thinking and the means to express themselves with clarity and grace.

ZANNA, DON’T provides a great musical vehicle for scores of drama organizations to explore a pretty irresistible idea. Where did the original concept come from? author Tim Acito tells the story of his show:

In the summer of 2000, I was in my apartment listening to a country/western love song when I started daydreaming about how great it would be someday to turn on the radio and hear such a beautiful song sung from one man to another. I quickly started imagining every genre of pop music in a gay context, and the world of ZANNA, DON’T! was born. Admittedly, the project began quite shamelessly as personal wish fulfillment—to revisit my 1970’s adolescence, but in a world where the normalcy of being gay was reconfirmed by every sitcom, Saturday morning cartoon, and top-40 hit. It was a joke, of course, and I was having a great time with it. But then I wondered, “Why is it a joke to ask for the same simple experiences everyone else can take for granted?” It was disturbing to me that even I had been conditioned to laugh at the thought of equality. I felt compelled to include some more sobering thoughts within the goofy exuberance of Zanna’s world, as a reminder that there can be profound psychological and societal consequences when popular culture fails to include all of the population.

Over the past three years, I hope ZANNA, DON’T! has grown beyond its personal origins into something much more universal. It is for anyone who grew up feeling different, which as far as I can tell means just about everyone. And who among us hasn’t struggled with identity, prejudice, friendship, and love, only to have their hearts broken along the way? And who among us hasn’t turned to music and laughter to help us put the pieces back together?

-Tim Acito

For information on producing YOUR production of ZANNA, DON’T!, click here to visit the show’s homepage at

To get a Perusal copy of ZANNA, DON’T click here to go to the Perusal Store at