It’s a Funny Thing About the Mercer Colony....
Ths place is perfectly, incredibly boring,” says Alex Brightman, welcoming a reporter into his temporary home, one he shares with his writing partner Drew Gasparini, as he describes Goodspeed Musicals’ Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Colony in East Haddam in the depths of winter.
“It feels so desolate,” says the actor-writer of the picturesque little town along the Connecticut River. “It feels like a place where murderers come, or the set of some ‘70s horror movie or Twin Peaks.”
“But that’s good, because most writers are sociopaths,” jokes composer-lyricist Gasparini.
They are there to work on a new musical based on the 2006 novel and 2010 film, It’s Kind of a Funny Story that Universal Stage Productions has commissioned them to write. And boring is exactly what these easily distracted Manhattan men need, they say.
They’re not alone. More than 30 composers, lyricists, and book writers are making use of the remote surroundings and the vacant, newly built housing during Goodspeed’s winter months for the annual weeks-long creative retreat—now in its fifth year—as they work on a total of 18 new musicals. They get the heave-ho in March when a new wave of artists arrive to begin rehearsals for Goodspeed’s first show of the 2017 season Thoroughy Modern Millie.
Among the new shows is a musical by Matt Gould and Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel (Baby Girl) and musical stage adaptations of the films Benny & Joon and Into the Wild.