12TH ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS
It’s the Festival starting today – the twelfth one, on this cold, wintry Friday the 13th in January – at our favorite place – The Goodspeed Opera House in Haddam, CT.
I’ve enjoyed the “readings” – staged readings of brand new musical works, since my friend Elisa Hale, Goodspeed’s PR Manager invited me down many years ago! If fact I think she simply said to me “Howard – be here or else”!!! Thank you Ms E.! – I’ve never turned back and now eagerly look forward to attending each year- not only for the various three day Goodspeed Festival of brand new musicals – but to see the most talented young folks on the planet perform- students from the Boston Conservatory and the Hartt School.
Regarding “Hartt” however, I must truthfully admit- I do cheer on the Hartt School students a bit more ardently. There must be something in the water at Hartt – that turns out such accomplished talented young actors, musicians and all around “nice folks” year after year- I also think it has something to do with Hartt’s fantastic teaching staff including – Johanna Morrison, Robert Davis and the one and only Alan Rust. In truth, it was Alan Rust, several years ago at a Festival of New Musicals, who personally invited me down to “see for myself” the Hartt students “at work” in their various productions at their Hartford, CT campus. By the way- Thank you Ashley Malcolm and Hartt School for the much prized invites!
To this day- no matter what production I’m reviewing- I check to see if any of the actors in the company are from Hartt!
This year’s festival includes musical readings of “Picnic at Hanging Rock” – book, music and lyrics by Daniel Zaitchik, the Zombie Musical- “ZM”, music and lyrics by Mark Hellmann, book and lyrics by Greg Kotis, and “ROW”, Book by Daniel Goldstein, Music & Lyrics by Dawn Landes and based on “A Pearl in the Storm” by Tori Murden McClure. As Goodspeed is the “birth home” of the musical “Annie”- its true you never know when you may be treated to the next big musical to turn up on Broadway – a few years back- right here at the festival we became acquainted with “Come From Away” – a true story turned into a musical about what happened when 38 airplanes were diverted on 9/11 to a small airstrip in Newfoundland. Yep- it’s the next “big” musical to hit Broadway and it had its start here at Goodspeed!!
One more thing, the annual Goodspeed Festival has come to be “the” place for friends of musical theater to meet, reminisce and discuss all things “theater”! I’ve met so many old and new friends, from “far and away” who make the yearly jaunt to Haddam for this “not to be missed” three day festival- I encourage you as well to join us! I want to especially thank Elisa Hale, Dan McMahon, and Amanda Michaud for all their kindness and as always, a chance to catch up with my dear friend Michael Price. Speaking of new friends, I did meet a group of Hartt Students while awaiting for the start of “ZM” – one of them turned to me and asked “are you the infamous “Howard” – who sends our school complimentary “Movie Screening passes”? – yes- that would indeed be me- it just goes to show ya- ya never know who ya gonna meet next at the Goodspeed!!