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About Goodspeed

Where We'Ve Been

Goodspeed’s beginnings date back to 1963 when we opened our doors as a professional musical theatre in an historic  building on the banks of the Connecticut River in East Haddam. Under the direction of Michael Price from 1968 to 2014, Goodspeed transformed from a struggling entity into a non-profit arts organization with a mission. At first, Goodspeed’s commitment was to discover rarely produced musicals from the repertoire, reworking them and bringing them to life. We were also intent on adding to the repertoire by discovering and nurturing promising new musicals presented at both the Opera House and the Norma Terris Theatre in neighboring Chester.

In our history, we have produced over 250 musicals, including over 70 world premieres, and exported 21 productions to Broadway.  Goodspeed stands as the first regional theatre in America to earn two special Tony Awards, one in 1980 for outstanding contributions to the American musical and a second in 1995 for distinguished achievement for a regional theatre.

Who We Are Today

Goodspeed mounts both new and newly revived musicals each year on our main stage at The Goodspeed and on our second stage in Chester – a total of nearly 400 performances during the April to December season attracting more than 100,000 patrons to the Connecticut River Valley. We stand at the forefront of producing and preserving the American musical, simultaneously reinventing the classics and inventing new ones. We attract well-known icons of the theatre world and foster emerging talent among composers, lyricists, and librettists. Each year, thousands of actors, directors, choreographers, and technicians aspire to come to Goodspeed to practice their craft. Among millions who know and love this art form – and those who appreciate its history and enduring appeal – Goodspeed is widely recognized as “The Home of the American Musical.”

Throughout the year, and intensively during the winter months, Goodspeed addresses issues unique to the field by offering innovative and highly-sought after programs through our Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. The Arts Education Collaboration provides art-education programs for underserved Connecticut youth. The Festival of New Musicals features students from the Hartt School and Western Connecticut State University performing staged readings of three brand new musicals, industry-related seminars, a symposium and cabaret performances.  Each winter, Goodspeed also hosts the Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Grove that invites musical theatre writing teams to retreat from daily life for a four-week residency and concentrate solely on writing new musicals. In addition, Goodspeed serves as a resource for the preservation of the art form through our Scherer Library of Musical Theatre, the second most extensive musical theatre research library in the United States.

The Future We Envision

The Goodspeed campus will continue to serve as a thriving artist community where the creative process informs the work on our stages and expanding educational programs.  We aspire to serve as a safe haven where a singular commitment to discovery and innovation will enrich the field with the next generation of musical theatre artists.

Goodspeed Musicals’ mission is to share the joy of musical theatre; to delight, inspire, and challenge audiences; to nurture creators; and to build and support a broad, diverse, and inclusive community.

Idea Journey: An Update

June, 2022

Like many of our theatrical colleagues across Connecticut and the nation, Goodspeed Musicals continues its commitment to reckon with the cultural shift taking place following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, as well as the recent violent attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific-Islanders (AAPI) and members of the BIPOC communities. The clear drive to increase diversity, demonstrate inclusion in more than name, and improve—and in some cases, introduce—equity into our industry and workplace sparked internal mobilization and action within Goodspeed that is ongoing and permanent.

We wanted to share just how Goodspeed’s staff and Board are weaving these inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) strands into our work and how you will see them reflected in our programming and on our stages, and as part of our organization, as well.

Throughout summer and fall 2020, Goodspeed reviewed and discussed the statements and demands of various theatre-focused antiracist organizations which called out what has historically been a primarily white, homogeneous industry. We quickly recognized that outside training would be the right place to start in preparing our response and actions going forward. With support from our Board of Trustees, we engaged The Woke Coach to share their From Ally to Accomplice® program with our staff. This multi-month engagement which took place in 2021 has proven invaluable in showing us to ourselves and giving us tools and vocabulary to continue having the conversation about these issues with our colleagues long after our training ends. We knew the entire organization should have the opportunity to receive The Woke Coach’s guidance and leadership. Thus, a second cohort of staff began their training in early March 2022. It is our goal for all staff to successfully complete this program. Our IDEA work has been generously funded by the Burry Fredrik Foundation, the Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Foundation, Inc., Webster Private Bank, and Dr. Anne Rothstein and Ms. Jane Hellman. We will seek additional financial support to help us continue working with The Woke Coach into the coming years.

The first Woke Coach cohort evolved into a staff-led committee we currently title the IDEA Working Group. Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility are the guiding principles underpinning an ever-evolving task list, including projects such as: gathering educational resources on antiracism and other diversity and inclusion principles, creating mandatory training on antiracism and other IDEA topics, pronoun usage guidance, welcoming gender-variant and non-binary staff, and expanding and deepening our job posting locations and resources so that we can reach a broader audience of applicants. This working group meets monthly and works to emulate the perspective gained from the work with The Woke Coach, and as additional staff graduate from the training, they will be welcomed to join this committee.

At the Board level, a committee titled the Racial Equity Task Force (RETF) formed in 2020 to start these same conversations in a joint Board-staff group. The primary purpose was to look at what contributions the Trustees can make toward the inclusion goals of the organization. Similar to the staff, the Trustees are grappling with the role of Boards in the inequitable structure underpinning the American regional theatre industry. The RETF continues to discuss IDEA training opportunities for the full Board, as well as the need to center IDEA into our Board nomination process and Trustee diversification—including ensuring these goals meet future diverse Trustees where they are, and not place unintentional barriers in front of their true engagement.

Festival of New Musicals Symposium with Seena Hodges, David Byrd, Donna Lynn Hilton and Ansa AkyeaBeginning with the 2022 Festival of New Musicals, Goodspeed welcomed its audience and patrons to join us in these efforts. The Festival Symposium featured our partners at The Woke Coach—Seena Hodges (she/her) and Ansa Akyea (he/him)—who challenged us all to look at our own participation and perpetuation of the systems affecting the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) populations. As we move into our regular productions, expect to see these issues raised at member events and talk-backs with the creative teams. We invite our audience and our community to be engaged in how we are considering these questions and navigating those challenges.

Our Executive Leadership is also committed to promoting a diversification of the creative teams (directors, choreographers, and designers), musicians and music teams, and actors, both racially and with regards to gender. Our public casting notices make our commitment to inclusive casting very clear, and we are adjusting our language and approach to casting roles based on gender or gender identification—in fact removing it when it is not absolutely required for a role. While it may have happened occasionally in our past productions, it is now a primary goal to have roles filled by BIPOC actors. And our orchestra will also see this shift—our goal is to have all folks, on-stage and back, better reflect the diverse communities in which Goodspeed operates.

As Goodspeed launches its first formal strategic planning process this spring, these commitments will play a central role in Goodspeed’s future. Goodspeed cannot move forward responsibly—or truly in good conscience—without dedicating resources, both fiscal and energetic, to our IDEA work. This will include supporting further community engagement, additional antiracist and inclusion training, and selecting programming which reflects these commitments. Stay tuned for updates about our impending strategic planning process.

Please feel free to reach out to Artistic Director Donna Lynn Hilton ( and/or Managing Director David B. Byrd ( if you have questions or want to help with this important work. You will continue to hear from us as the conversation progresses—and it will—because at a minimum, we have come to understand what a life-long engagement this work entails, when you approach it not just in name, but in deed, with true resource-delegation, fundraising support, and earnest, honest conversation.

A version of this article, penned by General Manager Rachel J. Tischler, appeared in the Spring 2022 edition of CURTAIN! Magazine.

March 8, 2021

All of us at Goodspeed Musicals recognize that our programming, our staff, our artists, our Board of Trustees, and our audience should reflect the rich diversity of the communities we serve. Throughout our history too little effort has been made to change the gender, racial, and ethnic representation of our theatre. We acknowledge the moral imperative to address barriers for women and people of color, with particular emphasis on the highest levels of Goodspeed, where greater equity and inclusion will be most impactful. Goodspeed is committed to this work, and we wish to address it directly, publicly, and transparently.

To guide our progress, in the summer of 2020 Goodspeed established a Racial Equity Task Force comprised of Board and staff and charged it with recommending actions to lead to greater diversity, equity, and inclusion among our staff, creative teams, performing artists, Trustees, and audience. In acknowledging our shortcomings, Goodspeed has engaged the services of The Woke Coach, a minority-owned and operated company whose mission is to help clients be better individuals and leaders with a deeper understanding of how the legacy of racism and injustice affect us all. We will be updating on the progress of our work in this space.

Goodspeed Musicals has evolved a long and respected reputation as a leader in our industry while we’ve entertained audiences and created work that has moved our community towards greater inclusion. But we have much work to do if we are to create the safe and inclusive environment we envision. As we build on our great history, it is critical that equity, diversity, inclusion and justice for all be among our guiding principles. We commit to undertaking this journey with fervor, empathy for all and with joy.

Donna Lynn Hilton, Artistic Director

David B. Byrd, Managing Director

The land on which Goodspeed Musicals is located in East Haddam and Chester, CT is the ancestral land of at least three tribes of Native Americans - the Wangunk, the Mohegan and the Nehantic tribes. History suggests that indigenous people called the area “Machimoodus,” the place of noises, because of numerous earthquakes which could be heard for miles surrounding the epicenter of the quakes near what is known today as Moodus and where those ‘noises’ can still be heard on a quiet summer evening. We understand that the land which is now Haddam and East Haddam, was purchased from the native people in 1662 for thirty coats – worth about $100. We acknowledge those native Americans and the loss of their homeland - land on which we thrive today.

land acknowledgement map

Board of Trustees


  • Hila Rosen, President
  • Jef Wolter, Chairman
  • Jeffrey Hoffman, First Vice President
  • Anthony Cacace, Vice President
  • Meg Sakellarides, Treasurer
  • Jennifer Brown, Secretary
  • Gov. Ned Lamont, Ex Officio Honorary Chairman
  • Francis G. Adams, Jr.
  • Frank Campbell
  • Carolyn Rossi Copeland
  • Christopher Dodd
  • Jim Duncan
  • Anne Evans
  • Marlene Ferreira
  • Muriel Fleischmann
  • Sue Frost
  • Jean Selden Greene
  • Ann Houston
  • Sue Link
  • Gavin Lodge
  • Mark Masselli
  • Michael G. Polo
  • Kristen Roberts
  • Blair Russell
  • Karen Sherry
  • Joseph Smith
  • Leonardo H. Suzio
  • John Voege

Emeritus Trustees

  • Kay Knight Clarke
  • Chandler Howard
  • Lynde Karin
  • Mary Ellen Klinck
  • Julie Godbout LeBlanc
  • Lawrence McHugh
  • Robert F. Neal
  • Michael P. Price
  • H. William Shure
  • Dona D. Young

Audited Financial Statements

IRS Form 990

Impact Report

6 Main Street, East Haddam, CT 06423

mr. william h. goodspeedWilliam H. GoodspeedThe Goodspeed has endured as a majestic presence on the Connecticut River since it was built as the Goodspeed Opera House in 1876 by William H. Goodspeed, shipping and banking magnate and avid theatre lover. Since that time The Goodspeed has lived two lives: the first as a bustling center of commerce housing a theatre, professional offices, steamboat passenger terminal ,and a general store; and the second, after a period of neglect and deterioration, as a magnificent professional musical theatre fully restored in 1963 to its original splendor.

Goodspeed's history goes back to its opening night on October 24, 1877, when a repertory group presented the comedy Charles II and the farces Box and Cox and Turn Him Out. Featured performers of the day were brought to East Haddam by steamboat, many directly from theatres in New York.

After William Goodspeed's death, the theatre was eventually sold and used as a storage depot for the State Highway Department. The building was marked for demolition in 1958, but local preservationists became interested, and in 1959 the Goodspeed Opera House Foundation was organized to restore and reactivate the theatre. With the cooperation of the State of Connecticut and the support of donor-members of the Foundation, The Goodspeed was restored and rededicated on June 18, 1963, with the opening of the musical Oh, Lady! Lady!!

The theater in the Victorian-style building is located on the fourth floor of the tallest wooden structure on the Connecticut River, and was constructed in 1876. A new stage was built over the original and incorporates what were formerly audience boxes into the downstage left and right areas. The boxes now serve as actor entrances below and lighting positions above.

The stage is raked 3/16" to the foot and has three permanent motorized winch tracks, in-one, in-two, and in-three. The in-one and in-two tracks are generally split on center to provide independent left and right tracks, while the in-three is rigged to travel full-stage. All three configurations have some flexibility and all winches are independent variable-speed DC drives, controlled from various positions in the wings.

The grid at The Goodspeed consists of 2" x 7" microlam joists installed in January 1995, which resemble the original wooden beams. Drops are flown using 6" diameter roll tubes and traveler track is used extensively to move sliders, drapes, and other scenery. Electrics and hard scenic masking are flown using block and falls and are dead hung below the grid; all flying units and drops are custom rigged for each production.

Learn more about The Saviors of the Goodspeed Opera House who spearheaded the campaign to save the building from the wrecking ball.

33 North Main Street, Chester, CT 06412

norma terrisNorma TerrisThe Terris Theatre was inaugurated in 1984 by Goodspeed Musicals for the development of new musicals. 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 Goodspeed Musicals during her later years.

Miss Terris began her stage career as a young vaudeville performer, which led to her first major role in George M. Cohan's Little Nellie Kelly. She gained immortal acclaim as the creator of the roles of Magnolia and Kim in the original Florenz Ziegfeld 1927 production of Show Boat. After making two films for Fox, Married in Hollywood and Cameo Kirby, she starred for ten seasons at the Municipal Opera Company in St. Louis. Miss Terris first performed for Goodspeed audiences in the 1970 production of Little Mary Sunshine. She presided over the dedication of TheTerris 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. A beloved friend of Goodspeed Musicals, Norma Terris is remembered for enriching the art of musical theatre with her beautiful voice, fine acting and generous spirit.

The Terris Theatre formerly was a factory built in the early 1900s for Susan Bates, Inc., which became one of the largest manufacturers of knitting needles and needlework accessories. In 1982, after locating to a larger facility, Susan Bates, Inc., donated its abandoned factory in Chester to Goodspeed Musicals. The space was fully renovated as an intimate 200-seat theatre, and opened its doors on July 10, 1984, with the new musical Harrigan ’n’ Hart.

TheTerris Theatre is best described as a flexible proscenium with little theatrical architecture to interfere with the ambitious designer. There is a respectable amount of wing space. The grid at The Norma Terris Theatre consists of steel I-beams running upstage to downstage on roughly 54" centers, butting to steel channels running left to right on roughly 10 foot centers. There are 2 x 12 wooden planks laid flat across the channels to take up the space in between the I-beams. Roll tubes and traveler tracks are used in the same manner as in The Goodspeed, and again, each production is custom rigged.

After decades of dreaming, many years of planning and nearly two years of construction, Goodspeed Musicals’ Artists Village is now a reality. Located near The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Connecticut, seventeen gleaming new houses are now part of the fabric of this scenic New England town. Learn more about the Artists Village.

Commerce Drive, East Haddam, CT 06423

The Goodspeed Production Department operates year-round at our shops in East Haddam, Connecticut, located in the East Haddam Industrial Park at 5 Commerce Drive. Phone: 860.873.8664, ext. 710; Fax: 860.873.2480

The Chauncey Stillman Production Facility is named in honor of the late Chauncey Devereux Stillman.  By bequest Mr. Stillman established the Homeland Foundation which provided Goodspeed Musicals with a generous grant to help purchase the facility.  The late E. Lisk Wyckoff, Jr., a former member of Goodspeed Musicals’ Board of Trustees, was President of the Homeland Foundation up until his death in December 2012.  Under Mr. Wyckoff’s leadership, the Homeland Foundation focused on transformative giving, and the gift for the purchase and development of the Stillman Production Facility exemplified this, expanding our production capacity and allowing us to build ever more elaborate sets and produce scenery and props of the highest artistic quality for our stages.  Today, the Chauncey Stillman Production Facility is one of the largest and finest theatrical production facilities in the country.

Scene Shop

The Scene Shop is one of the largest and best equipped shops in regional theatre. Our expansive 13,000 square foot facility houses all the tools necessary to complete projects of all types, large and small.

The Goodspeed Scene Shop proper is roughly 73' wide by 100' long with a maximum ceiling height of 25'. There are three 10' x 10' loading doors on the west wall of the shop, two at standard 48" dock height, the third at ground level. An additional 2200-square foot auxiliary scenic prep and storage area is connected to the main shop by a 10' x 10' loading door on fusible link. The shop is a well-equipped woodworking facility with a full range of power tools, hand tools, pneumatics, and a dust collection system.

Paint Shop

The Paint Shop is 140' long x 80' wide, divided by a central row of columns, 25' apart. The shop is equipped with a sprung celotex covered deck about 40' wide x 105' long for drop painting and a 38' x 100' area for hard scenery and prop painting. The Scenic Art Department services all Goodspeed productions, including the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester. The paint shop has also taken on non-union commissioned work for many designers and theatres nationally and internationally, as well as commercial venues, display projects, and much more. We are best known for our drop painting abilities, but our capabilities include sculpting, sign work, carving, groundcloths and all manner of hard scenery, along with decorative finishes.

Our scenic artists bring many years of experience to the shop. The department has many professional scenic artists who travel from coast to coast to work in our shop. We are dedicated to fine workmanship and close collaboration with our clients to create the best product possible. Please contact us for your custom drop needs.

Prop Shop

The Goodspeed Prop Shop is fully equipped to handle the construction and restoration of most furniture, including upholstered and metal items. The shop is equipped with power and hand tools, pneumatics, and a spray booth. Hand prop and furniture inventories are extensive and include a wide selection of period furniture, much of which has been custom built for our small stage space. The props inventory is catalogued in an inventory of digital images as well as conventional photographs.

20 Norwich Road, East Haddam, CT 06423

The Scherer Library Of Musical Theatre

Visit the Library's page

The Max Showalter Room

The latest chapter in a legacy left to Goodspeed Musicals by their longtime friend and supporter Max Showalter, this very special room holds not only the memorabilia from the decades long career of this beloved actor of stage and screen, but is now home to Showalter’s pair of baby grand pianos. It was Max’s wish that these beloved instruments be shared by composers, musicians and performers in a space that will be used for programs and events to inspire and educate “young creators in the fields of theatre, film and music.” The Max Showalter Foundation, Inc. supported this latest addition to The Max Showalter Center for Education at Goodspeed Musicals which has supported education programs for the last six years.

Costume Shop

Our costume staff includes technicians and artisans with backgrounds in theatrical design, ballet, and fashion. We have built garments ranging from trousers to tutus, paniers to pillbox hats, and kilts to kimonos.

Our capabilities include flat patterning, draping, and the construction and alteration of garments, including corsets and dancewear. The shop is also versed in the construction and refurbishing of millinery and leather garments, as well as needlework, and jewelry design and construction. Wig design, maintenance, and ventilation are also available.

The costume shop is outfitted to accommodate both large and small projects. It is equipped with industrial sewing and merrow machines, as well as an industrial leather walking foot machine and a blind hemmer. Our staff has collaborated with New York and regional theatre designers, including Jess Goldstein, Suzy Benzinger, Pamela Scofield, and Catherine Zuber.

Our costume collection includes over 250,000 garments from over 30 Broadway shows. Visit our rental site.

12 Hood Lane, East Haddam, CT 06423

Newly opened in Fall of 2014, Goodspeed's Barrington Costume Center is conveniently located in East Haddam, CT - just a short train or car ride away from New York and most of the Northeast. Visit our rental site.

The Costume Center features:

  • More than a mile of costumes
  • State-of-the-art heating and cooling systems and industrial-grade dehumidifiers to ensure our items are housed in the ideal environment for textile preservation
  • Motion sensor lighting system allowing you to clearly see color and detail without exposing the garments to unnecessary light and preventing discoloration
  • Currently integrating a new barcode and inventory software system to expedite and streamline your rental process

21 Norwich Road, East Haddam, CT 06423

The Rehearsal Studio features three rooms: a music area where songs are learned, the “Waterfall Room” where book scenes are staged, and the “Large Room” where directors and choreographers have a space the same size as the Goodspeed stage where they can put the show on its feet.

20B Norwich Road, East Haddam, CT 06423

Named for long-time Goodspeed friend and supporter Alice Hammerstein Mathias, daughter of the award-winning composer Oscar Hammerstein II, the facility features a new dance space and additional rehearsal studio.

Goodspeed Musicals does not accept unsolicited scripts or materials. Thank you for your interest.