Date ArticleType
9/6/2018 Member News

Sunshine City The Musical Lights Up St. Pete

Sunshine City The Musical Lights Up St. Pete
Help! Sea Vamps Capture St. Pete’s Bachelor Mayor”
Actual headline in Racine Journal News, March 7, 1922

St Petersburg, FL: Sunshine City The Musical will open as a staged reading at Opera Central on September 10, reprising for a concert reading on October 28 as part of the St Pete Arts Alliance Festival of the Arts. Written by Dewey Davis-Thompson and Tom Sivak, the performances are funded in part by grants from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.

“The mark of a maturing arts organization is investing in new works, and our Artist Award grants this year are invested in 15 extremely innovative ideas in fine arts, dance, photography, and theatre.” said John Collins, Director of the St. Pete Arts Alliance. “I am thrilled to help shine a spotlight on Sunshine City the Musical, which in turns brings more attention to our City of the Arts.”

Based on the true story of the first publicity director for an American town, Sunshine City The Musical follows Jack Handsome as he conjures up publicity stunts to lure tourists to St. Pete while trying to win the heart of the local paper’s skeptical reporter Flora Day. The cast includes local favorites Matt Aquard, Julia Riffino, Maddox Padgett and Jan Neuberger.


Inspiration for the musical came from Nevin Stitler's book Selling St. Petersburg, which details many actual publicity stunts that made national headlines and drew in the tourists.

  • These 18 Month Old Babies Have Never Seen a Cloudy Day – Mansfield News-Journal, Dec. 13, 1935,
  • “Help! Sea Vamps Capture St. Pete’s Bachelor Mayor.” Racine Journal News. March 7, 1922.
  • Bathing Suit Censor Requested in Florida - New York Times. Jan. 26, 1922.

“Self-proclaimed home to a Treasure Island, the Fountain of Youth, myriad world sports championships, and - of course - sea vamps, St. Petersburg practically invented the art of public relations, “ said Davis-Thomson. The musical takes creative license with history – and the emphasis is on creative. “Singing mosquitos, alligators and even a visit from Ponce de Leon don't seem all that crazy in the context of Florida, known for lunacy” said Sivak.

Opera Central is located at 2145 First Avenue St. Petersburg, Florida 33712 . The September 10 performance is free of charge. Tickets for the October 28 St Pete Arts Alliance Festival of the Arts performance are $15 in advance at


Dewey Davis-Thompson

Dewey Davis-Thompson is a St. Petersburg playwright whose local productions include Ganymede at Suncoast Theatre, shorts The Gasparilla Queen and Manatees' Tale of Extinction at StageWorks, meiuqeR at St. Pete Opera, and The Tocobaga Bargain on WMNF. He also plays several recurring characters on the Patch & Click radio series.

Tom Sivak

Tom Sivak's music has been heard from coast to coast on stage, television, and silver screen. This past year his Micro-Operas Frankie & Gianni and Teeka Teeka Teeka were performed in Tampa Bay and the documentary film, 63 Boycott, with a score written and recorded by Sivak, premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Vickie Daignault, Director
Vickie Daignault works primarily as an actress but is delighted whenever  she gets the chance to direct! Having an early emphasis on women’s stories
 and theatre for young audiences, she has directed in Chicago, Charlotte, New York, North Carolina, Illinois and Iowa. Locally, she has directed
staged readings at American Stage’s 21stCentury Voices Festival.

St. Petersburg Arts Alliance

Founded in 2012, the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance is the only nonprofit dedicated to raising money and advocating for the entire creative community – artists, arts and cultural organizations, and creative businesses. They raise money through individual and corporate gifts, event sponsorships, and grants that support community-wide arts efforts.