Penn State to premiere Joe Iconis' 'Love in Hate Nation'

January 30, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Centre Stage presents the premiere production of the musical "Love in Hate Nation," Feb. 13-24, in the Playhouse Theatre. With music, lyrics and book by Joe Iconis, "Love in Hate Nation" was commissioned by Penn State Musical Theatre as part of their New Works Initiative.

John Simpkins ("The Black Suits," "Legendale") directs. Music direction is by Dan Riddle ("Les Miserables," "The Light in the Piazza"), with choreography by Jennifer Werner ("The Book of Mormon"). Jennifer Ashley Tepper ("The Untold Stories of Broadway") is dramaturg and Charlie Rosen ("Prince of Broadway," "Honeymoon in Vegas") provides orchestrations.

A love story between two girls, "Love in Hate Nation" is set in an early 1960’s juvenile detention center. Taking musical cues from wall-of-sound pop and rock and roll girl group, Riot grrrl, the show tells the story of young people caught between eras of a changing America and their attempt to break out of the boxes society has created around them. This is the story of American rebels in the making on the verge of revolution.

Penn State’s production features Amina Faye as Susannah, Katie Griffith as Sheila, Talia Suskauer as Ms. Asp, Caleb Smith as Kitty, Mikayla McKasey as Judith, Lena Skeele as Dorothy, Morgan Hecker as Ya-Ya, Jasmine Forsberg as Rat, and Kevin Dort as The Guy. Swings and understudies include Aidan Cole, Laura Guley, Ariana Notartomaso and Maria Wirries.

Penn State’s production is designed by Parker Sweeney (scenery), Ken Friedhoff (lighting), Emma Dickerson (costumes), and Olivia Girdano (sound). Lyric Hamilton is production stage manager.

Joe Iconis is the author of "Be More Chill" (Two River Theater), "Broadway Bounty Hunter" (Barrington Stage Company), "The Black Suits" (Center Theater Group), the rock and roll Spaghetti Western musical "Bloodsong of Love" (Ars Nova), "ReWrite" (Urban Stages), Theaterworks USA’s "The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks" and "We The People." Upcoming projects include "The Hunter S. Thompson Musical" for La Jolla Playhouse.

The Penn State Musical Theatre New Works Initiative is a yearly commission where writers meet and draw inspiration from the student artists for whom they are writing. The project includes a year-long development period and culminates in a concert in New York and a full reading on campus. Possibilities exist to continue into production at Penn State and then professional co-production with a regional or New York Theatre. In addition to Joe Iconis, current commissions include Mike Reid/ Sarah Schlesinger and Kirsten Childs.

For more information and tickets to "Love in Hate Nation," please visit

Last Updated February 02, 2018