Goodspeed Turns 40 and Celebrates By Honoring Stro, Cutting Cake, Growing Tree

News   Goodspeed Turns 40 and Celebrates By Honoring Stro, Cutting Cake, Growing Tree Among ways Goodspeed Musicals will celebrate its 40th anniversary season in 2003 is by honoring Tony Award winner Susan Stroman at a nearly sold-out gala benefit June 21.

Stroman, a Goodspeed alumna who co-created The Producers, Contact and Crazy for You, will receive The Goodspeed Award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theatre, in recognition of her work as a director and choreographer.

Previous award recipients include Ira Gershwin and Tommy Tune.  Proceeds from the gala will support Goodspeed Musicals and its mission "to preserve and advance the art of musical theatre."

In the early days of her career, Stroman came to Goodspeed in East Haddam, CT, where she performed in the musical Hit the Deck (1977) and Whoopee (1978), which later transferred to Broadway. She subsequently won five Tony Awards: For directing and choreographing The Producers and for choreographing Crazy for You, Show Boat and Contact.

She has received two Oliviers, four Drama Desk Awards and seven Outer Critics Circle Awards.  Her debut as a director of Contact, which she also co-created and choreographed, was a great success when the show premiered in 1999.

That same year she directed and choreographed the revival of The Music Man, again receiving much recognition and 2000 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Direction and Best Choreography.  Most recently on Broadway, Stroman recreated her Laurence Olivier Award- winning choreography for the American premiere of the Royal National Theatre's Oklahoma! The chairmen for this event are John Barlow and Scott Rudin, with Cameron Mackintosh as honorary chair.  A founding partner of Barlow · Hartman Public Relations, John Barlow began his career over 20 years ago as a press intern with Goodspeed.  His firm currently represents a variety of Broadway shows including The Producers, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Movin' Out.

A leading Hollywood producer, Scott Rudin's recent project, "The Hours" starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep, received a Golden Globe Award for Best Film-Drama as well as earning an Academy Award for Nicole Kidman.  He is currently working on a variety of projects, including "The Stepford Wives," scheduled to open in 2004.

During his 30-year career, Cameron Mackintosh has produced a variety of internationally successful musicals including Cats, Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, Oklahoma! and Miss Saigon.

A silent auction will be held at the gala with donated prizes including "walk-on" appearances on "Frasier" as well as Rudin's new movie, "The Stepford Wives"; tickets to a Yankees baseball game at Yankee Stadium; New York Knicks tickets on the floor of the Madison Square Garden; and tickets to a variety of Broadway shows.

For further information, call Theresa Kidd, Goodspeed's director of individual giving, at (860) 873-8664.

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Other events scheduled to highlight the 40th Anniversary season include a Goodspeed Birthday Party and Fall Symposium.

On Wednesday, July 16 at 5 PM the public is invited to the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam for birthday cake celebrating 40 years in musical theatre.  The cake will be in the shape of the Opera House.  Along with this event, a reunion in honor of Goodspeed's summer production Very Good Eddie (July 11-Oct. 4) will take place.  Cast members from the 1975 Goodspeed production of Very Good Eddie will attend the special occasion.

The symposium, "What Goodspeed Does Best," featuring Goodspeed's fall production, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Oct. 10-Dec. 14), will be held Sept. 16.  Director Elinor Renfield as well as Playbill On-Line columnist Steven Suskin (author of the book, "Show Tunes") will be panel participants.  The symposium is available to Goodspeed Musicals' Producer's Circle Members.

On June 18, 1963 the Goodspeed Opera House was reopened, rededicated and began its now 40-year commitment to the preservation and development of musical theatre in America.  Since that time Goodspeed has produced more than 83 musicals, 16 of which moved to Broadway and 43 that were world-premiere productions. The troupe has been under the direction of Michael P. Price since 1968.

Goodspeed Musicals produces six musicals each season, split between the historic Goodspeed Opera House and The Norma Terris Theatre. The latter opened in Chester, CT, in 1984 for the development of new musicals. In addition to its onstage productions, Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre.

For more information, visit www.goodspeed.org.