Goodspeed's 13th Annual Festival of New Musicals to Tackle the Civil War, Womenin the Airforce and More

Goodspeed's 13th Annual Festival of New Musicals to Tackle the Civil War, Womenin the Airforce and More

The 13th Annual Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals, produced by Goodspeed Musicals' Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre, kicks off its much-anticipated three-day festival of brand-new works on Friday, January 12, 2018 at The Goodspeed with a staged reading of the rousing new musical Five Points by Ethan D. Pakchar (Music) and Douglas Lyons (Music and Lyrics), and McKnight Fellowship winner Harrison David Rivers (Book).

On Saturday, January 13, the soaring Sweetwater, inspired by the contributions of Women Airforce Service Pilots, will be a highlight of the day. The musical is written by festival alumni Sean Mahoney and critically acclaimed Patricia Noonan.

The final day of the festival features Passing Through, ASCAP Foundation's Cole Porter Award winner Brett Ryback and author Eric Ulloa's exhilarating tuner based on a young man's cross-country journey.

All three writing teams have developed works during the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed.

Additional festival events including seminars, a symposium, cabarets and The New Musical Preview round out this exciting weekend.

Single tickets are $25 for each staged reading, $15 each for students. Beginning December 6th, single show tickets and festival packages will be available through the Goodspeed Box Office 860.873.8668 or online at

This year, Goodspeed's ever-popular Festival GOLD Package offers a weekend full of special events. The $139 package includes admission to all three staged readings; the New Musical Preview, a short preview of two new musicals headed to The Terris Theatre in 2018; three Festival seminar sessions; the Festival Symposium; a Saturday evening pre-show dinner at either the Gelston House or La Vita; and a Meet the Writers Q&A, which will complete the weekend's festivities. Also included in the Festival GOLD Package is admittance to either the Friday Night or Saturday Night Cabarets - informal gatherings showcasing new songs by new and established artists. A special SILVER Package highlighting the three staged readings, the New Musical Preview, the Festival Symposium and the Meet the Writers Q&A is also available for only $80.

"This winter we are thrilled to celebrate the 13th Anniversary of our Festival of New Musicals - one of the cornerstones of Goodspeed's new works development program and the source of countless hours of discovery and entertainment for our new works audience," said Goodspeed's Executive Director Michael Gennaro. "The village of East Haddam will be filled with vitality and exhilaration as hundreds of musical theatre fans from across the country come together to celebrate Goodspeed and the best and brightest writers and performers in musical theatre," he added.

Productions from the three writing teams participating in the Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals and the schedule of Special Events for Festival Package holders include:

Friday, January 12


7:30 p.m., The Goodspeed

Music by Ethan Pakchar and Douglas Lyons

Lyrics by Douglas Lyons

Book by Harrison David Rivers

New York City. 1863. Set amidst the tumult of the Civil War, Five Points chronicles the journeys of two men, Willie Lane, a young black performer at the famed Almack's Dance Hall, and John Diamond, an Irish immigrant and former jig champion, as they risk everything in pursuit of the American Dream.


10:00 p.m., Gelston House

Jenny Giering, 2013 and 2014 participant in the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed, is a composer, singer and pianist. Giering has received the Clifton Artist in Residence at Harvard University, the Dramatists' Guild Jonathan Larson Fellowship, Constance Klinsky Prize from Second Stage Theatre, a Meet the Composer grant, the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award and was the composer in residence at Sundance's Ucross Residency. She is currently writing two new musicals on commissions from Playwrights Horizons and Chicago Shakespeare.

Saturday, January 13


10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., Gelston House / La Vita at Goodspeed Landing

The Seminar Series titles and schedules TBA.


3:00 p.m., The Goodspeed

Attend a preview of three exciting new musicals headed to Goodspeed's Terris Theatre in 2018.

Symposium *

4:00 p.m., The Goodspeed


A panel of prominent theater critics lead by WNPR's Colin McEnroe

*This event is free and open to the public.


5:30 p.m., Gelston House - OR - La Vita

Enjoy a three course meal with fellow festival goers.


7:30 p.m., The Goodspeed

Music by Sean Mahoney
Book and Lyrics by Patricia Noonan

As World War II shakes the nation, sisters Beth and Frankie join women from across America to fly for the US Army. Leaving home to train in Sweetwater, TX, these Women Airforce Service Pilots risk their lives without military status. From history's margins, Sweetwater brings the WASP center stage in an epic story about the joys and costs of being female pioneers.


10:00 p.m., Gelston House

Zoe Sarnak, 2016 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed participant, is an award-winning composer, lyricist and playwright. She graduated from Harvard University where she was awarded the Ann Radcliffe Trust. Sarnak's The Quad was produced at Harvard's Loeb Experimental Theatre in 2009. Other works include: Mixtape, featured in Silent Street Productions 2012 season; A Lasting Impression, winner of Pace New Musicals 2012, produced Off-Broadway at the 4th Street Theatre at NYTW in August 2012, winner of the 2013 NJ Playwright's contest; The Years Between, performed at 54 Below and workshopped in Musical Theatre Factory's 2014 season. Winner of the 2015 Davenport Songwriting contest and finalist for NY Stage & Film's Founders award, Sarnak's music has been featured at The Lilly Awards, Women of Note (NYMF), Cutting Edge Composers and more, and in venues from Playwrights Horizons and New York Theatre Workshop to Joe's Pub and the Highline Ballroom. Zoe is one half of the indie folk/pop band she, featured in #sheSESSIONS recorded live from The End Studios

Sunday, January 14


1:00 p.m., The Goodspeed

Book by Eric Ulloa
Music & Lyrics by Brett Ryback
Based on the work "Walking to Listen" by Andrew Forsthoefel

Passing Through tells the incredible true story of a young man who journeys on foot from Pennsylvania to California, collecting stories as he goes. When his trek brings to light a repressed family trauma, he must use the lessons he's gathered to confront his past. Set against the backdrop of America, it's a musical about community and the healing power of forgiveness.


3:30 p.m., The Goodspeed

Gain insight into the inspirations and processes of the writers during this lively festival wrap-up discussion.

Lodging and dining information for Festival attendees as well as up-to-date information on the weekend's events can be found at

The Festival of New Musicals is produced by Goodspeed Musicals' Max Showalter for Education in Musical Theatre. Created in 2002, Goodspeed's Showalter Center inspires and nurtures musical theatre artists and students by providing a unique and comprehensive range of training and educational programs to serve both the national and local academic communities. The Goodspeed Festival program offers new and emerging artists the rare opportunity to thoroughly work on their projects with the help of Goodspeed's renowned resources and artistic environment. At the same time, the Festival affords senior students from prominent conservatory programs real-world experience in new musical development and performing new musicals.

Preparations for the Festival begin the first week of January. The three teams of writers and composers dedicate their time to further writing and composing their musicals in development. They are joined by musical theater students from The Hartt School and Boston Conservatory, who take part in rehearsals and continued development of the material. The intensive retreat culminates with Goodspeed's Festival of New Musicals, which showcases staged readings of the new musicals developed during the two-week long program, one of the Showalter Center's major endeavors.


Douglas Lyons is a composer-lyricist and actor who has originated roles on Broadway in The Book of Mormon and Beautiful. As a writer Douglas was awarded the Bully Free Communities Spotlight Award for Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical which ran at The Atlantic Theater Company in NYC. Upcoming world premieres: Five Points at Theater Latte Da and Peter, Darling at Casa Mañana Theatre. With composer Ethan Pakchar his lyrics have played Lincoln Center, The Old Globe, Prospect Theater Company, Seattle Rep and more. Douglas is currently in residence at The Directors Company and under commission with Seattle's 5th Ave Theatre ('64). XO Michael Finkle (WME), Cyd and Harold (CLA). @DouglasSings

Ethan D. Pakchar is a New York City composer, orchestrator and guitarist. Most recently, he served as Assistant Orchestrator for Shakespeare Theatre Company and 5th Avenue Theatre's production of The Secret Garden. As a guitarist, Ethan has played for the Broadway productions of Hamilton, Wicked, The Book of Mormon and The Lion King. He is half of the writing team "Lyons & Pakchar" who were recently commissioned by Seattle's 5th Ave Theatre. Their musical Five Points with McKnight Fellowship-winning playwright, Harrison Rivers, will get its world-premiere at Theater Latte Da in Spring 2018.

Harrison David Rivers is the winner of a GLAAD Media Award, McKnight and Many Voices Jerome Fellowships, a Van Lier Fellowship, an Emerging Artist of Color Fellowship (NYTW) and the New York Stage & Film's Founders' Award. He was a member of the 2011-13 Emerging Writers' Group at The Public Theater and the 2016 Playwright-in-Residence at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Sean Mahoney is a musical theater writer, guitarist, and DJ raised in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and artistically based in New York City while living most of the year in Telluride, CO. He holds an MFA in Musical Theater Writing from NYU-Tisch School Of The Arts and a BA from UNH. As a songwriter, his work has been performed at Joe's Pub, 54 Below, Birdland, Ars Nova, Merkin Hall, The Bruno Walter Library at Lincoln Center, The Laurie Beechman Theater, and Symphony Space. Musicals include Factory Girls (with Creighton Irons); NAMT, Goodspeed Festival of New Artists, Pace New Musicals, Boston Conservatory, ACT-SF, Lesley University, Johnny Mercer Writing Colony at Goodspeed, 11th Hour Theater; Sweetwater (with Patricia Noonan) Johnny Mercer Colony Residency; The Invincible Three - The Great Telluride Bank Robbery of 1889 (book, music, and lyrics) Staged reading, Palm Arts/Telluride; Prep School Musical (with Sam Forman), and Sweet Cassandra - A Greek Rock Opera (with Amy Burgess). Thanks to Donna Lynn Hilton, Bob Alwine, and Goodspeed for all their support over the years.

Patricia Noonan is an award-winning actor, singer, lyricist, and playwright based in NYC. She graduated as a Presidential Scholar from Boston College. Noonan wrote the book and lyrics for the musical Learning How to Drown (with Amanda Jacobs), developed at The Johnny Mercer Writers' Colony at Goodspeed and the PiTCH - Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival and given a workshop production at Boston College this past year. She is also one of the writers and co-founders of The #makeitfair Project, which launched in 2015 to advocate for gender parity in the entertainment industry and beyond. As an actor, Noonan has created roles in Maury Yeston's Death Takes a Holiday (Sophia), Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (Elizabeth Bennet), Edwin (Mollie Booth), The Brontes (Charlotte), Signs of Life (Lorelei), Baby Case (Betty Gow), Neurosis (Abby), and Little House on the Prairie and appeared in revivals at Lincoln Center and City Center in NYC and at theaters across the US. She can also be heard on the cast albums for Death Takes a Holiday and Merrily We Roll Along and made her TV debut as Macie-Lynn Pearce on Law & Order: SVU. Upcoming projects include the independent feature film The Light of the Moon, editor on A Mile in Our Shoes (a collection of memoirs from women from around the world), and, of course, Sweetwater. Many thanks to Donna Lynn Hilton, Bob Alwine, and everyone at Goodspeed for their continued support and for helping Sweetwater take flight.

Brett Ryback is an actor, composer/lyricist, and playwright. He is the 2016 recipient of the ASCAP Foundation's Cole Porter Award. Works include: Joe Schmoe Saves the World (NAMT, ASCAP/Dreamworks Workshop); The Tavern Keeper's Daughter ("Best Musical," Pasadena Weekly); and Darling (Weston Playhouse New Musical Award). His award-winning plays Weïrd and A Roz By Any Other Name are both published in "The Best American Short Plays 2007-2008." His musical Passing Through has been developed at The Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed and the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat. As an actor he originated the role of Marcus Off-Broadway in Murder for Two, and has performed at numerous regional theatres including The Ahmanson, Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, Milwaukee Rep, and Geffen Playhouse. Film/TV appearances include Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, and Hail, Caesar! He created the online accompanist site, and he teaches musical theatre at the University of Southern California.

Eric Ulloa is the author of 26 Pebbles, which had its world premiere at The Human Race Theatre Company. The play was featured in American Theatre Magazine, The NY Times and won the Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Award for 2017. Eric is also the book writer of the musical Molly Sweeney, based on the play by Brian Friel, which was a part of the Bay Street Theatre 2017 Festival of New Works. On the other side of the footlights, Eric was in the Original Broadway Company of On Your Feet: The Story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Eric has appeared on The 2016 Tony Awards, The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and A Capital Fourth. Eric holds a Bachelors in Fine Arts from the University of Central Florida. To purchase 26 Pebbles or for licensing requests, go to

Andrew Forsthoefel is a writer and speaker. He facilitates workshops in walking and listening as practices in connective presence, personal transformation, and conflict resolution. He lives in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, where he holds a small, unofficial counseling practice.

Under the leadership of Executive Director, Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed Musicals is dedicated to the preservation, development and advancement of musical theatre and is the first theatre in the nation to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement).Goodspeed produces three musicals each season at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn., and additional productions at The Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals. Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Goodspeed gratefully acknowledges the support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts.

Related Articles

More Hot Stories For You

Andrew Lloyd Webber Musicals Will Stream Online Free; Catch JOSEPH... This Friday, April 3
Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals will be streamed online for free!... (read more)

Nick Cordero is in the ICU, May be Positive for COVID-19
Nick Cordero is currently in the ICU, with what was thought to be pneumonia, but may be COVID-19.... (read more)

Social: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Hanks and More Pay Tribute to Adam Schlesinger
The entertainment community is bereft at the loss of Emmy and Grammy winner and Oscar nominee Adam Schlesinger, who passed away today from coronavirus... (read more)

VIDEO: Patti LuPone Embodies Norma Desmond in New Basement Tour!
Patti LuPone has been gracing us all with video tours of her basement. Today she decided to embody the spirit of Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond!... (read more)

VIDEO: Brian Stokes Mitchell Tests Positive for COVID-19
Tony Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell took to social media today to inform his fan base that he has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. ... (read more)

Award-Winning Songwriter Adam Schlesinger Passes Away Due to COVID-19 Complications
Emmy and Grammy winner and Oscar nominee Adam Schlesinger has passed away from coronavirus-related complications. He was 52 years old. ... (read more)