The mission of the Goodspeed Opera House Foundation is to preserve and produce musical theatre of the highest quality. By producing from the repertoire and developing new works, Goodspeed acts as a major resource for the musical, an art form indigenous to this country.
To fulfill this mission, Goodspeed will:
Each April through December season, Goodspeed produces three musicals at the Opera House in East Haddam, and specializes in producing and developing new musicals at The Norma Terris Theatre. Nineteen Goodspeed productions have transferred to Broadway, receiving more than a dozen Tony Awards.
Goodspeed is at the forefront of shaping the future of musical theatre. At The Norma Terris Theatre, located in Chester, Connecticut, Goodspeed develops new musicals and nurtures emerging artists. Inaugurated in 1984, The Norma Terris Theatre has launched over 50 musicals into the theatre world, including 25 world premieres, giving writers the opportunity to develop their material through actual production.
The Goodspeed Opera House was built in 1876 by William Goodspeed for his shipping and banking business and to provide a venue for his love of theatre. The opera house opened on October 24, 1877, with the comedy Charles II and the farces Box And Cox and Turn Him Out. After Goodspeed’s death, the opera house went from serving as a militia base during World War I to a general store to a storage depot for the State of Connecticut Highway Department. In 1959, Goodspeed Musicals restored the building, and the Goodspeed Opera House was rededicated on June 18, 1963, with the opening of the musical Oh, Lady! Lady!.
For almost 30 years, The Norma Terris Theatre has been Goodspeed’s home for developing fresh, innovative, and original new musicals before they’ve moved on to other theatres. The show can change on a day-to-day basis. New scenes are added, songs are moved, costumes are changed, dialogue is tweaked - all based on audience response and feedback. Dedicated in 1984, the theatre is named in honor of the actress Norma Terris, star of Jerome Kern’s Show Boat and a devoted patron and trustee of the Goodspeed Opera House during her later years. She presided over the dedication of The Norma Terris Theatre, and in 1987 she established The Norma Terris Fund to expand the talents of individuals and to foster the vitality, excellence and diversity of musical theatre at The Norma Terris Theatre. The Norma Terris Theatre formerly was a factory built in the early 1900s for Susan Bates, Inc., which became one of the largest manufacturers of knitting needle and needlework accessories. In 1982, after locating to a larger facility, Susan Bates, Inc. donated its abandoned factory in Chester, Connecticut to Goodspeed Musicals. An intimate 200-seat performing space, The Norma Terris Theatre was fully renovated, opening its doors on July 10, 1984 with the new musical Harrigan ’N Hart.