Goodspeed gets $2 mil for new site

Opera House expected to cost $33 million

EAST HADDAM, Conn. — The nonprofit Goodspeed Opera House Foundation is a step nearer to building a third theater — one that will be larger than both of its existing venues put together — as a result of a $2 million grant from the state of Connecticut.

The new site will seat 600 to 700 and will feature a Broadway-size stage. Actual work on the theater is expected to begin in 2003. Total pricetag for the theater, a scene shop, actor housing and a production center is $33 million, which is expected to be paid for through further funding from the state and with about $20 million to be raised by the foundation.

The state’s initial $2 million is earmarked to cover the costs of acquiring the land for the theater, commissioning a design and conducting a traffic study.

The original 1876 Victorian Goodspeed Opera House is in East Haddam, where the new site also will be, on the banks of the Connecticut River. Saved from the wrecking ball and reopened in 1963, it seats 398 and mounts three full-scale musical productions annually during a season that runs from April to December.

The second existing Goodspeed theater is across the Connecticut River in nearby Chester. Known as Goodspeed-at-Chester/the Norma Terris Theater, it seats 200 and has been dedicated to workshopping new musicals since 1984.

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