Goodspeed Musicals’ Board of Trustees has selected Donna Lynn Hilton as Goodspeed's new artistic director and David B. Byrd as the new managing director of the theatre. Hilton (who will become the first woman to lead the Connecticut venue) and Byrd succeed Executive Director Michael Gennaro, who retired at the end of 2020.
The Goodspeed Board of Trustees decided to change the leadership model from one executive director to the partnership of an artistic director and managing director, as is common in the regional theatre circuit. Hilton will lead the creative aspects of the organization, while Byrd will focus on administrative and financial management. Both will share fundraising responsibilities.
Hilton arrived at Goodspeed Musicals in 1988 and for the past 13 years has been Goodspeed’s producer, guiding productions and musical development at the Goodspeed Opera House and The Terris Theatre. During her tenure, she led the expansion of Goodspeed’s Festival of New Musicals and the creation of the Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Grove at Goodspeed Musicals.
Byrd’s career in the professional regional theatre has spanned 20 years with his most recent position as managing director of Virginia Stage Company. Byrd was previously managing director of the Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee, where he introduced a new play program and produced a collaboration with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. He has held leadership positions at Yale Repertory Theater (associate managing director) and Westport Country Playhouse (director of marketing).
“We are thrilled to begin a fresh chapter in Goodspeed’s history with Donna Lynn Hilton and David Byrd as our new leaders,” said Hila Rosen, president of the Goodspeed Board of Trustees. “I am so happy and proud that we are taking a major step forward by appointing Donna Lynn as our first female executive, and I relish the significance of selecting David to bring a new perspective to our beloved institution. At a time when all theatres have been shocked to their core and are fighting to survive, they bring an exciting new vision for Goodspeed that will undoubtedly secure an even brighter future for our historic theatre. Both Donna Lynn and David share the Board of Trustees commitment to prioritizing equity, diversity, inclusion, and racial justice for Goodspeed’s staff, creative teams, and on our stages.”