Goodspeed Musicals
Goodspeed Musicals, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theater and the creation of new works, was formed in 1959 to restore the Goodspeed Opera House, located in East Haddam, Connecticut
East Haddam, Connecticut
East Haddam is a town in Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 8,333 at the 2000 census.-Geography:According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of , of which, of it is land and of it is water....

, to its original Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 appearance. Each year, Goodspeed produces a total of 6 professional musicals. The Goodspeed reopened in 1963 and, under the direction of Michael P. Price since 1968, has sent 16 productions to Broadway. Goodspeed productions have won more than a dozen Tony Award
Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...

s, while Goodspeed Musicals itself has won two special Tonys.


A distinctive feature of the view from the Connecticut River
Connecticut River
The Connecticut River is the largest and longest river in New England, and also an American Heritage River. It flows roughly south, starting from the Fourth Connecticut Lake in New Hampshire. After flowing through the remaining Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis, it defines the border between the...

, the Goodspeed Opera House is the birthplace of some the world's most famous musicals, including Annie
Annie (musical)
Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and the book by Thomas Meehan. The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years with a blonde Annie as the poster...

, Man of La Mancha
Man of La Mancha
Man of La Mancha is a musical with a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh. It is adapted from Wasserman's non-musical 1959 teleplay I, Don Quixote, which was in turn inspired by Miguel de Cervantes's seventeenth century masterpiece Don Quixote...

and Shenandoah
Shenandoah (musical)
Shenandoah is a musical that was written in 1975 with music by Gary Geld, lyrics by Peter Udell, and a book by Udell, Philip Rose and James Lee Barrett, based on Barrett's original screenplay for the 1965 film Shenandoah.-Productions:...

. The opera house was originally built by a local merchant and banker, William Goodspeed. Construction began in 1876 and finished in 1877. Despite the name, it was not in fact an opera house
Opera house
An opera house is a theatre building used for opera performances that consists of a stage, an orchestra pit, audience seating, and backstage facilities for costumes and set building...

, but rather a venue for presenting plays. Its first play, Charles II, opened on October 24, 1877. After William Goodspeed's death, the opera house fell into disrepair, facing a series of less glamorous uses—from a militia base during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 to a general store
General store
A general store, general merchandise store, or village shop is a rural or small town store that carries a general line of merchandise. It carries a broad selection of merchandise, sometimes in a small space, where people from the town and surrounding rural areas come to purchase all their general...

 and a Department of Transportation storage facility. The state of Connecticut had condemned the building by the time a group of concerned citizens formed Goodspeed Musicals in 1959 to attempt a restoration. The state of Connecticut agreed to sell the building to the group for one dollar, provided they acquire enough funding to restore and maintain it. The restoration project took nearly four years and the Goodspeed Opera House was rededicated on June 18, 1963. The first performance in the new opera house was Oh, Lady! Lady!.

The building is quite unique for a theater. The theater itself is actually located on the top two floors of the building making for interesting and sometimes difficult scenery and show load-ins. Scenery is loaded-in from the dock area up a vacant elevator shaft that is now outfitted with a winch system to haul the scenery up to the stage level. Much care has to be taken in order to get the scenery up the shaft without scratching or ruining the scenery. One story told around Goodspeed is that while loading in the scenery for Annie's original pre-Broadway run at Goodspeed is that a strong gust of wind took a large piece of scenery out of the hands of the loaders and blew it into the Connecticut River.

In 1984, Goodspeed Musicals added a second performance venue—the Norma Terris Theatre
Norma Terris Theatre
At the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Connecticut, Goodspeed Musicals develops new musicals and nurtures emerging artists. 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...

--in nearby Chester, Connecticut
Chester, Connecticut
Chester is a town in Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 3,743 at the 2000 census. The town center is also defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as a census-designated place .-Geography:...

. While the main stage presents a mixture of revivals and new musicals as part of its 3 production season, The Norma Terris presents three new musicals each season. Several original plays debuted here or at the opera house before going on to Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 and winning Tony Award
Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...


In addition to the two theaters, Goodspeed Musicals pursues its mission through the Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre, which offers internships and new writers' residency programs, as well as the Scherer Library of Musical Theatre, which houses the largest musical theatre research facility in the United States. Goodspeed Musicals has also built state-of-the-art production facilities including scenery shops, costume shops and a large costume storage facility.

Critic fellows from the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center
Eugene O'Neill Theater Center
The Eugene O'Neill Memorial Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut is a 501 not-for-profit theater company founded in 1964 by George C. White. The O'Neill is the recipient of the . The O'Neill is home to the National Theater Institute , and several major theater conferences including the...

in Waterford, CT travel to the Goodspeed each summer to practice reviewing full productions.

Tours of many of the Goodspeed facilities can be scheduled in advance for a small fee. Tickets to the opera house or theatre productions should be ordered in advance as most performances in the relatively small theater sell-out quickly.

External links

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