Where We’ve Been

Goodspeed’s beginnings date 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 small summer theater 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 also added to the repertoire by discovering and nurturing promising new musicals presented at both The Goodspeed and The Terris Theatre in neighboring Chester.

In our history, we have produced over 275 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.

Goodspeed Musicals continues to mount both new and newly revived musicals each year on our main stage at The Goodspeed in East Haddam and on our second stage, The Terris Theatre, in Chester. With a total of more than 400 performances during the April to December season, we attract over 130,000 patrons to the Connecticut River Valley. We stand at the forefront of producing and preserving the American musical, simultaneously reinventing the classics as well as inventing new ones. We attract well-known icons of the theatre world and foster emerging talent among composers, lyricists, and librettists. Each year, hundreds 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. Some of our programs include:

  • 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 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 Goodspeed campus will continue to be a place 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.

A complete listing of past Goodspeed Musicals productions can be found at www.goodspeed.org

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.

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.

Tap HERE for information on the programs offered by The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre.

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  Goodspeed Musicals is a professional theatre operating under an agreement between the League of Resident Theatres and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Orchestra members are represented by The Connecticut Valley Federation of Musicians, AFM Local 400.

  Goodspeed Musicals is a member of The League of Resident Theatres.
  The scenic, costume, lighting and sound designers in LORT Theatres are represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829 of the IATSE.
  The Director is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society., a national theatrical labor union.
Goodspeed Musicals
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