All 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 Opera House and on our second stage in Chester – a total of more than 400 performances during the April to December season attracting 130,000 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, including the celebrated Musical Theatre Institute providing programs for aspiring musical theatre professionals. The Arts Education Collaboration provides art-education programs for underserved Connecticut youth. The Festival of New Musicals features students from the Hartt School and the Boston Conservatory 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 Colony 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 colony 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.
The mission of Goodspeed Musicals is to be the leader in preserving and producing musical theatre of the highest quality by:
- Rethinking, restoring and producing works that are valued and significant in the history of musical theatre;
- Developing new musical theatre works;
- Nurturing the talents of new composers, lyricists and librettists;
- Encouraging and developing the talents of artists, technicians, and administrators;
- Inspiring future audiences through education programs and outreach efforts;
- Preserving and expanding the archival collections of its Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and making them available for professional use;
- Maintaining the Goodspeed Opera House, a national historic landmark.