Goodspeed Musicals has been undergoing a period of self-examination, exploring issues of racial equity and diversity in its workplace as well as on the stage.
The company’s progress was discussed in a public talk, “Goodspeed and the Racial Equity Movement in Theater” on March 19 as part of the theater’s Festival of New Musicals.
One of the revelations of the discussion was that the Goodspeed received a number of negative comments on audience surveys regarding the revue “A Grand Night for Singing,” which the Goodspeed produced in the fall as its first live show since the COVID shutdown.
“A Grand Night for Singing” is a revue of songs by Rodgers & Hammerstein, the creators of such hits as “The King and I” and “The Sound of Music.” Some of the songs were given fresh interpretations, including setting a few as romantic duets sung by same-sex couples. The Goodspeed requested approval for the interpretive changes from the organization that oversees the licensing of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, and received approval.
In audience surveys provided by the theater, some used the “additional comments” section to complain about the LGBTQ+ content.
While noting that a large majority of comments on the show, including in-person reactions from patrons leaving the theater, were positive, Goodspeed Musicals Managing Director David Byrd told The Courant on Tuesday that some of the comments were so unsettling that he didn’t want Goodspeed staffers to be exposed to them.
“There were people who really loved that production and appreciated the way that story was told, who thank
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