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Goodspeed Announces New Leadership Team

Ms. Hilton and Mr. Byrd will succeed Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed's Executive Director, who retired at the end of 2020.

Hilton becomes the first woman to lead the internationally acclaimed theatre
Byrd represents new generation of theatre managers EAST HADDAM, CONN., January 13, 2021: After an extensive national search, Goodspeed Musicals' Board of Trustees announced today that they have selected Donna Lynn Hilton as the new Artistic Director and David B. Byrd as the new Managing Director of the two-time Tony Award-winning theatre. Ms. Hilton and Mr. Byrd will succeed Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed's Executive Director, who retired at the end of 2020.

Donna Lynn Hilton arrived at Goodspeed Musicals in 1988 and has been a creative force at the organization ever since. For the past thirteen years, Ms. Hilton has been Goodspeed's highly respected Producer, responsible for guiding productions and musical development at the Goodspeed Opera House and The Terris Theatre. During her tenure, she led the expansion of Goodspeed's Festival of New Musicals and the creation of the Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Grove at Goodspeed Musicals. Her work has impacted the development of new musicals and revivals not only on Goodspeed's stages, but in regional theatres across the country, on Broadway, and the United Kingdom, earning her an international reputation as a leader in the field.

David B. Byrd's career in the professional regional theatre has spanned 20 years with his most recent position as Managing Director of Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk, Virginia. Prior to his work in Norfolk, Mr. Byrd was Managing Director of the Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he introduced a new play program and produced a novel collaboration with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. He also served as Adjunct Professor in the UT-Knoxville Department of Theatre. No stranger to Connecticut, he has held leadership positions at Yale Repertory Theater (Associate Managing Director) and Westport Country Playhouse (Director of Marketing) and is a graduate of the Yale University School of Drama. Mr. Byrd has demonstrated a keen ability to manage complex institutions with limited resources and will be an excellent partner with Ms. Hilton.

"We are thrilled to begin a fresh chapter in Goodspeed's history with Donna Lynn Hilton and David Byrd as our new leaders," said Hila Rosen, President of the Goodspeed Board of Trustees. "I am so happy and proud that we are taking a major step forward by appointing Donna Lynn as our first female executive, and I relish the significance of selecting David to bring a new perspective to our beloved institution. At a time when all theatres have been shocked to their core and are fighting to survive, they bring an exciting new vision for Goodspeed that will undoubtedly secure an even brighter future for our historic theatre. Both Donna Lynn and David share the Board of Trustees commitment to prioritizing equity, diversity, inclusion and racial justice for Goodspeed's staff, creative teams and on our stages," added Rosen.

Ms. Hilton, who will begin immediately as Goodspeed's first Artistic Director, said, "I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to lead the theatre that has been my creative home for so long - particularly at this moment, when all we know has been put to the test - and I am excited to welcome David B. Byrd as my partner. It is important to us both that Goodspeed prioritize providing a welcoming and safe environment for diverse voices. Despite the devastating impacts of the pandemic, I am confident that Goodspeed will emerge transformed and well positioned to build on our great legacy of developing, producing and introducing to the world exceptional musical theatre."

Mr. Byrd, who will join Goodspeed in a few weeks, shared his thoughts about becoming the institution's first Managing Director. "I have long admired Goodspeed Musicals and its rich history of nurturing new works and creating exceptional musical theatre experiences. I feel honored to join a team of stellar artists, artisans and theatremakers during this most important time for our industry and society at large." He added, "I am thrilled for the opportunity to join Donna Lynn Hilton in leading such a storied institution at this moment when we need theatre most. Great art will be borne from and lead us out of this difficult stretch. There is a bright future ahead which includes developing new and diverse audiences, stewarding Goodspeed's physical assets and honoring the rich traditions of the musical theatre with a dedicated Board of Trustees, Members and community."

Upon learning of Michael Gennaro's retirement plans earlier this year, the Goodspeed Board of Trustees decided to change the leadership model from one Executive Director to the partnership of an Artistic Director and Managing Director, as is most common in regional theatres across the country. Ms. Hilton, as Artistic Director, will lead the creative aspects of the organization while Mr. Byrd, as Managing Director, will focus on administrative and financial management. Both will share fund-raising responsibilities. The search for Goodspeed's new Artistic Director and Managing Director was conducted by a committee comprised of Goodspeed Trustees with assistance from Thomas Hall of Albert Hall & Associates

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