As I drove across the East Haddam swing bridge, car tires rumbling over the open grate, it was hard to imagine that the 19th-century Goodspeed Opera House – looking like a wedding cake on the Connecticut River – was anything but a place for musical theater. Yet in addition to being a performance space, it served as a passenger terminal for a steamboat line. It was the town’s general store, post office, dentist’s office, and even a parking garage.
Thanks to a series of very fortunate events, Goodspeed's restoration in 1963, after a period of neglect, was followed by 19 productions that went on to Broadway, receiving more than a dozen Tony awards. In 2006, another fortunate event – a set of strategic business decisions – saved the Goodspeed yet again.