It Started with a Kiss Opens July 7 at LAB Theater Project

Contact: Owen Robertson, Executive Producer

Date: June 9, 2022

Phone: (813) 586-4272


The new musical It Started with a Kiss, music and lyrics by Mike Deeson and book by James Rayfield, opens on July 7, 2022, at LAB Theater Project

LAB Theater Project is pleased to present its first musical It Started with a Kiss, a new play by Tampa’s own Mike Deeson and James Rayfield.  This timeless work explores the deepening of young love and the forces that conspire against it, through the clarity and expressiveness of country music.

Mike Deeson (lyrics and music), the 12-time Emmy winning Investigative Reporter with WTSP Channel 10, has written close to 1000 songs and spent 15 years as Regional Coordinator for the Nashville Songwriter’s International (NSAI).  James Rayfield (book) is a long-time Tampa Bay playwright, director and theater teacher.  It Started with a Kiss is directed by LAB’s founding producer Owen Robertson with Musical Director Miles Randolph, and features local actors Kristy Pike and Lance Felton.  The set and lighting design are by Owen Robertson, with set dressing by Beth Tepe-Robertson and costumes by Lara Jackson.

“When I first read the script for It Started with A Kiss,” Director Owen Robertson said, “I thought this was a nice little musical. A simple love story that fits very well in the country motif. Then, meeting with James and Mike, listening to the demo tracks of the music, I heard a beautiful story, one that I connected with. A story about first love, love rushed together, immature love, real love and marriage, growing up, and growing into true love. The journey that James and Mike take us on is one worth going on. 

About the play: 

Ruth Ann and Earl are young and in love and decide to join their lives in marriage. But this is a story that rides on the melodies of country music so, of course, nothing is smooth sailing for them.  Instead, they face the gales of starting a family, struggling with jobs, and the pull of other distractions. Ruth Ann gives all she can to raising a child and being a wife, but Earl is trapped in a thankless job, and has a roving eye that finds the women who hang out at the Dew Drop Inn attractive. What’s a wife to do when she thinks she has a cheating husband? How many times can she take him back? Can they renew their past love? 

Country music was made to tell this story.  In fact, as Mike Deeson says: “This play captures the essence of Country music, which is often based on story telling through the raw emotions of relationship triumphs and failures!”

Robertson adds: “At LAB, one of our key tenets is, “tell me a good story” and this musical does that. The story of Earl and Ruth Ann is relatable, and in the end, I think, makes us smile and feel good inside. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. Our world is full of conflict and turmoil and there are numerous new works holding a mirror up to these deep and powerful issues. But Deeson and Rayfield give us a chance to just think about love. And right now, we can use a mirror telling us that love is alright, love is good, and love can get us through all the tough stuff.  Additionally, the opportunity for LAB to produce its first musical, written by a local playwright and lyricist/composer — that seemed like an easy decision for me.”

It Started with a Kiss runs for three weekends, July 7 through 24. Live performance times are Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday matinee at 3 pm. Performances will also be available on-demand July 21 through August 4. Audience members who purchase on-demand tickets will be emailed a link to the video site.  LAB reserves the right to adjust the number of seats available in response to CDC guidance, to protect the health and wellbeing of our audiences, cast, and crew. LAB Theater Project wants patrons to feel safe coming to the theater; full health and safety procedures may be found at

Tickets are $28 and are available online through LAB’s website, For questions or interview requests, please contact the Box Office at 813-586-4272, or email us at

About LAB Theater Project:
LAB Theater Project is a non-profit 501(c) 3 production company that produces new works in the Tampa Bay Community. The belief in a “playwright first” focus is resolute, and a core value of the company. Along with a focus on developing new works, LAB Theater Project also focuses on training new theater artists to join the growing theater community in Ybor and the Tampa Bay Area. 

LAB’s production of local playwright Hector Melendez-Figueroa’s play, The Wendy House, was awarded Best Play for 2021 in the Tampa Regional Awards through Broadway World. The LAB Theater Project was named Critic’s Choice for Best New Theater Company in 2017 by Creative Loafing and received the 2018 50/50 Applause Award from the International Centre for Women Playwrights. 

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