Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, Connecticut:
Goodspeed Opera House is a historic and cultural landmark along the Connecticut River. It was built in 1876 by William Goodspeed, a merchant and banker. The structure is a distinctive example of Second Empire style which intended to attract the attention of boaters on the river. The property originally served as a store, office and steamship docking point. On the top two floors there was a theater. The first performance at the at Goodspeed was Shakespeare’s Charles II on October 24, 1877.
After William Goodspeed’s death in 1926, the building was used for various purposes, including a World War I militia base, a general store and a storage facility for the Highway Department. Having fallen into disrepair, it was restored in 1959 by Goodspeed Musicals, a nonprofit organization dedicated to musical theater. Rededicated in 1963, the Goodspeed Opera House has continued to for performances of musicals and is one of several facilities currently owned by Goodspeed Musicals:
“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.” -Goodspeed Musicals