In fall 2021, Broadway’s lights were slowly blinking back on after a long COVID-induced hiatus. Masked and vaccinated, New Yorkers flocked to the Great White Way. They took in familiar favorites like “Hamilton,” “The Lion King” and “Chicago.” Live theater, at long last, was back.

But for young thespians like Richie Radici of Montville, New Jersey, it felt further away, and he wanted to take matters into his own hands.

What You Need To Know

  •  When Broadway reopened in the fall of 2021, many young artists were shut out from the major performances coming back to the stage

  • Shortly afterwards, Richie Radici founded the GoodBadGroup, an art collective that creates, develops and presents work on and off the stage
  • Together with Patrick Perih, they set about creating a space for ambitious artists, hungry for a creative community willing to experiment

  • So far, they've staged three stage productions—and have plans to expand their creative vision

“I just felt like there’s no game plan, there’s no road[map], there’s nothing to tap into easily and it’s not accessible — and nobody tells you what to do,” he said.

Radici, who works in construction by day, remembers the moment he went about changing that. On Oct. 4, 2021, he typed up an email outlining what would later become the GoodBadGroup.

The concept was simple enough: An art collective that creates, develops and presents work on and off the stage. Not only could the budding theater company act as a career launching pad, but, crucially, after each production, cast and crew could mingle with audience members, forging new connections in a theater community that often felt impossible to breach.

He sent the pitch out to a handful of creative collaborators he’d worked with in the past. Halfway around the world, it found Patrick Perih, who had been traveling in Serbia. The idea was exactly what he had been looking for.

“I type up probably the most overkill email like, ‘I’m in! I’m in!,’” Perih said, drawing laughs from Radici.

Not long after, they decided upon their first production: Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” With Radici directing and producing, Perih playing a lead role and a stage booked in the East Village, it appeared they were well on their way.

Then, with rehearsals in full swing, COVID’s shadow entered stage right: The omicron variant descended upon the city a month out from their first performance.

Rather than postpone the show, which Radici said they seriously considered, they opted to push forward — without the networking environment after the performance and making sure to follow COVID protocols every step of the way.

Their mantra from the beginning, “If we build it, they will come,” gained new meaning.

“Not trying to cross any health boundaries, I think that we just figured if people wanted to come, they’ll come. If artists want to show up and work, they’ll work, and if they don’t want to, they won’t,” Radici said.

Their first run of performances of “Fool for Love” sold out. Moreover, their hunch — that artists were craving a collaborative community and willing to experiment — was correct.

Among those artists were Christian Ryan and Mackenzie Lesser-Roy. Both live and work in New York City. Ryan would go on to direct both Stephen Belber's "Tape," GoodBadGroup’s second stage production, and Leslye Headland's "Bachelorette," the company’s third production, while Lesser-Roy starred in "Tape," helped direct "Bachelorette," and is now a part of the GoodBadGroup’s creative team.

“Everybody is looking to be a part of the next generation of young, really hungry artists,” Lesser-Roy said.

“When they asked me to come on board I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah,’ and then I read it, and I was like, ‘Oh, I have to be a part of this! I need to be,’” she added, referring to when Perih and Radici asked her to come back and work on "Bachelorette."

Ryan’s experience was much the same: He, like Lesser-Roy, felt a kind of gravitational pull toward not just the material, but the people.

“They just told me to come and take a look at the acting, and I was like, ‘OK, great. I’d love to.’ And then after 24 hours of doing that I was like, ‘Alright, let’s do it,’” Ryan said.

The cast of “Bachelorette” work through rehearsals prior to their first performance of the stage production in February, 2023. (Photo courtesy of GoodBadGroup)

Their hard work continues to pay dividends. GoodBadGroup’s performances of "Bachelorette" during February and March 2023 were all sold out.

“We’ve been aggressively pushing our limits, show after show and idea after idea,” Radici said.

Networking opportunities stemming from the productions appear to be taking root, too. After their run of "Bachelorette" performances had concluded, Ryan said he had plans to meet with a playwright, a set designer, an actor and a producer — all of whom had gone to see the play, and then stayed to socialize afterwards during the meet and greet.

As for what comes next, the group says they have big plans for expanding their creative range, hinting at projects like short films and leveling up their stage performances to off-Broadway.

Together, rather than break down Broadway’s walls, they set about building a house all their own. And they have so far found success.