Very few people these days spend 45 years of their life working for the same employer. Michael Price, Executive Director of Goodspeed Musicals looks back fondly on his time at Goodspeed, where he has seen much change over four and a half decades. Price will retire from his position at the end of 2014.
Price joined Goodspeed Musicals in 1963 calling it a ” serendipitous move ” after taking courses at the Yale School of Architecture and having a professor who suggested Goodspeed as a subject for a possible term paper. ” Next thing you know I was working here, ” Price explained.
He got kicked out of Goodspeed in the fall of 1963 calling himself a ” smart-ass kid out of Yale Drama School, ” but managed to get invited to come back to Goodspeed in 1968. He attributed his return to a time before LinkedIn, maintaining his connections, a change of management at Goodspeed, and his ability to pick up a lot of experience in the time that he was gone.
” It took a few years for me to determine I didn’ t know all the answers, ” Price said, adding that
” I learned to learn what I didn’ t know and learned to be a better listener. “
During his time, Price said his three biggest accomplishments were his wonderful rapport with audiences that came to the theater, the joy of creating wonderful musicals, and his Goodspeed family.
” People in theater have a difficult time making their families number one, ” Price said, adding that actors and actresses often feel that they are forcing their families into the theater world.
When asked what he feels distinguishes Goodspeed from other theaters, Price explained, ” We do everything on campus. Some theaters just buy a show but all aspects of our shows are made in Connecticut including production and costumes. ” Price said, adding that Goodspeed Musicals is a ” real business in the State of Connecticut and an important employer in Middlesex County ” .
During Price ‘ s tenure, he has produced over 235 classic and new musicals, over 75 world premiere musicals, transferred 19 shows to Broadway, and accepted two Special Tony Awards for Goodspeed Musicals.
The company has grown to 300 employees and 33 buildings over 28 acres which brings 135,000 patrons into the auditoriums of Goodspeed Opera House and the Norma Terris Theater in Chester, a theater specializing in creating new musicals, which opened in 1984.
He said the new artist ‘ s village that opened two years ago was ” born out of necessity ” and while there is the possibility of building another theater, there are no current plans.
Price said ” Goodspeed has a bright and rosy future ” .
In a written statement, John F. (Jef) Wolter, President of the Goodspeed Board of Trustees stated ” Michael Price has been an extraordinary and tireless leader of Goodspeed Musicals for virtually its entire existence. In 1968, he arrived at a small struggling summer theater and built it into one of the most respected, artistically successful and financially secure theaters in the country. The institution he entrusts to his successor is among the elite of American artistic institutions, having shaped musical theatre for generations of audiences and artists from our East Haddam and Chester stages to Broadway and beyond. We are extremely grateful for Michael ‘ s service and leadership. “
When asked about his decision to step down, Price said, ” You reach a point you feel that it ‘ s time to make sure the institution continues in a vibrant and positive way by integrating new life into it by getting new management. I ‘ m stepping down for the good of the institution, it ‘ s the right thing to do at the right time. “
Elisa Hale, Public Relations Manager of Goodspeed Musicals, said that the company has initiated a national search for a new Executive Director which will take place this summer and a new Executive Director should be chosen by the fall.
Price will serve in an advisory and fundraising role through 2016 and will help assist the new executive director.