Take two American Presidents, a pickle man and a cowardly lion, mix in a charming prince, a master detective and assorted other characters in extremely high heeled boots and you get the makings of a season of diverse programming at Curtain Call. Stamford’s longest-running and only year round producing theatre company is gearing up for its 31st season at their Sterling Farms Theatre Complex home on Newfield Avenue with many area “firsts” and several returning favorites.
The Tony Award-winning musical comedy, 1776, leads off the season starting on September 17 in The Kweskin Theatre. In 1776, we witness the birth of a nation as our forefathers struggle to craft the Declaration of Independence. The show puts a human face on the pages of history as we see the men behind the national icons: proud, frightened, uncertain, irritable, charming, often petty and ultimately noble figures, determined to do the right thing for a fledgling nation.
The charming romantic comedy – Crossing Delancey – follows, beginning on October 1 in The Dressing Room Theatre, and tells the story of Isabel, a modern young woman who lives alone and works in a book shop. When she is not pining after a handsome author, she is visiting her grandmother (Bubbe) in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. This irascible granny and her friend the matchmaker have found a “good catch” for Isabel, whose initial reluctance gives way to a blossoming romance when she finally meets Sam, the pickle man.
“These first two shows of the season are personal favorites and have played here before” said Lou Ursone, Curtain Call’s executive director, noting that Delancey was actually a hold-over from the 2019-2020 season which had been postponed due to Covid. “No set has ever been in place here longer than this one, which has been complete and ready for more than a year and a half,” he said. Ursone joked that they actually had to steal set pieces from Delancey to use in their recent production of The Drowsy Chaperone, but that they’re back in place.
Later in October, Curtain Call will present the first of two original works scheduled for the season. The dark comedy, The Viewing Room, opens October 28 in The Dressing Room Theatre and introduces us to the family of the recently deceased, Chester Dombrosky. Set in the viewing room of a funeral parlor, Chester is sent back to face his family. He thinks he’s been more than adequate as a father and husband. The family have other ideas.
The holiday season brings the recently revised Broadway version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella to The Kweskin Theatre…the first time this version will play in town. Featuring the classic songs known for years, this family musical treat will feature performances with an earlier starting time: 7:30pm and will play November 17 through December 18.
Running concurrently with Cinderella will be the perennial holiday favorite, A Merry Mulberry Street Musical, penned by Ursone with original music by Jefrey Lodin and William Squire. Using characters from the most-produced play in Stamford history – Mulberry Street – Ursone moved the story ahead to the mid-1940s using WWII as the background to this broad musical comedy.
The New Year kicks off with another Curtain Call first, Agatha Christie’s Murder on The Orient Express. Hopefully New England winters won’t strand patrons in the theatre like the passengers on the fabled train. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, the passengers rely on detective Hercule Poirot to identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.
Another Tony Award-winning Musical, Into The Woods, returns to The Kweskin Theatre in February. Written by former Stamford residents, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, Into The Woods combines everyone’s favorite storybook characters and brings them together for a timeless, yet relevant, piece… and a rare modern classic. The book and score are both enchanting and touching as we follow a Baker and his wife, who wish to have a child; Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King’s Festival; and Jack, who wishes his cow would give milk. Everyone’s wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later with disastrous results.
March brings Marc Camoletti’s terrific comedy – a long running success in London – Happy Birthday. When Bernard foolishly asks his mistress, Brigit, to his home on her birthday despite the fact his wife Jacqueline is present, the laughs begin in very unexpected ways. On hand is also his oldest friend, Robert who is having an affair with Jacqueline! Frantic complications in which identities, plots and counterplots and bedrooms are exchanged with ever increasing confusion transpire until an unexpected ending makes everyone happy.
One of the best-known movie musicals of all time, MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, comes to life at The Kweskin Theatre for the fourth time in April, while May features the second original comedy of the season: The Lobby. Playing in The Dressing Room Theatre, The Lobby is about Jimmy Burgess— an unassuming night doorman of a posh downtown loft-space and his old friend, the incorrigible, ne’er do-well Miles O’Riordan. In this modern day comedy-farce, Irish characters from all walks of life swing through the lobby’s revolving door, while the elevator doors open and close seemingly on Jimmy and his dreams.
Closing out the season will be the area premiere of yet another Tony Award-winning musical. Kinky Boots is a musical with music and lyrics by former Stamford resident Cyndi Lauper and book by long-time CT resident, Harvey Fierstein. This exhilarating true story about a struggling shoe factory will lift your spirits to high-heeled heights!
While Covid numbers remain high, Curtain Call will follow the City of Stamford indoor mask mandate but will also require proof of vaccination from all patrons. (Curtain Call staff, performers, musicians and crew are all fully vaccinated.) Until further notice, performances in The Dressing Room Theatre will not feature the usual BYOEverything format. Hand sanitizer is available in the lobby of both theatres and increased air circulation will be maintained in addition to the use of an industrial UV sanitizer after each performance. “As soon as the numbers go down and stabilize, we will loosen restrictions,” Ursone said.
In addition to the 11 full-scale productions scheduled, several concerts, comedy nights and interactive murder mysteries will fill the calendar that includes nearly 200 performances in total. Discounted Flex Pass subscriptions offer savings of 25% and more. Additional information is available at www.curtaincallinc.com or by calling 203-461-6358. Curtain Call is located at The Sterling Farms Theatre Complex, 1349 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, CT. Tickets are $35 for adults, $25 for senior citizens and $20 for children under 21.
Curtain Call is the non-profit community-based theatre company in residence at The Sterling Farms Theatre Complex, 1349 Newfield Avenue in Stamford. Year-round productions and educational workshops for all ages are presented by and for area residents in The Kweskin Theatre and The Dressing Room Theatre.
Curtain Call was voted Fairfield County’s BEST LOCAL THEATRE GROUP ten years running in the Annual Readers’ Poll of the Fairfield County Weekly and has received similar BEST OF awards from Stamford Magazine and StamfordPlus magazine for 2008 through 2018. Curtain Call received The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2011 and the ACE Award for Excellence in Arts & Culture from the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County in 2016.