Curtain Call Stamford Lures Audiences with a Riveting 2023 – 2024 Lineup

Curtain Call—Stamford’s longest-running and only nonprofit producing theater company—has stood the test of time with a year-round calendar of entertainment. Founded in 1990 in association with The Stamford Community Arts Council, its venues include the 51-year-old, 184-seat Kweskin Theatre and The Dressing Room Theatre, a 100-seat cabaret-style, three-quarter thrust stage venue. Now, more than three decades later, Curtain Call continues to lure audiences with engaging entertainment for the 2023 – 2024 season.

The lineup will bring more of what audiences have come to expect: full-scale productions of popular shows. This year, those shows include Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof. Patrons also have a live radio play of It’s a Wonderful Life to look forward to.

Curtain Call’s full-scale productions won The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

“Sometimes, it takes a classic like Fiddler or The Sound of Music to get someone in the door for the first time,’’ says Lou Ursone, who has served as Curtain Call’s executive director since 2000. “Or it could be the opposite. We are often the first theater in the area allowed to produce a show like Beautiful and that brings them in. Other times there are shows that are personal favorites and a parent or grandparent will introduce kids to live theater. Everyone has their own specific wants from going to one of these productions.”

The play’s the thing that keeps audiences returning, but an innovative lineup also plays a big role in Curtain Call’s sustained success. When Ursone joined the nonprofit, Curtain Call produced several shows a year plus a summer youth production. Now, its calendar extends year-round and its production schedule includes summer shows for youth, plus workshops and classes for all ages.

“I felt the idea of an ‘if you build it, they will come,’ approach would work,’’ Ursone said. “We wanted to provide options that would encourage folks to spend more time with us. The volume snowballed from there.”

Kweskin Theatre is one of two venues for the theater company.

The much more challenging part for Curtain Call is keeping its facilities updated and modern, with things like improved customer amenities and big-ticket technology. As a nonprofit, its coffers are not deep. And then the pandemic threw a wet blanket over live performances. During that time, only the commitment of Ursone and his staff helped the company stave off disaster.

Ursone wrote daily missives to theater subscribers from March to July in 2020 with a short video to remain relevant. “Those writings prompted the most amazing outpouring of support,’’ Ursone said. “They kept us alive in their minds and that was a huge key to our survival.”

Physical improvements to the theaters have helped keep Curtain Call moving forward. A 2010 renovation added 5,000 square feet to the venues, with an improved lobby and bathrooms, dressing rooms, wardrobe storage and rehearsal studio. And then there’s theater technology, which keeps evolving.

left: Live shows run the whole year and that keeps audiences coming. right: Lou Ursone is Curtain Call’s executive director.

The bells and whistles that help captivate audiences are far more advanced than they were 20 or 30 years ago. “Like all technology, first-generation products are always very expensive. Remember when VCRs were $1,000?” Ursone said. “We can’t be at the top of the curve, but we can get our foot in the door through the used equipment market. We have a high-end projector that we’ll be using in one of the productions next spring. Something as simple as using a motorized winch system to move scenery seemed like a luxury when we installed it 20 years ago. We use it so much now. And no other theaters in the area—community or professional—have that.”

Curtain Call has audience support but it is always in need of funding to modernize its facilities. Every year, it walks a delicate tightrope between delivering quality performances, making small capital improvements and working with a budget that leaves little margin for error. Visitors appreciate the captivating performances of the stage talent, but not everyone recognizes the behind-the-scenes work required to keep Curtain Call’s status as a Stamford jewel. It has been voted Fairfield County’s Best Local Theatre Group for 10 years running and received The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Curtain Call’s sustained success is no accident. And Ursone has a vision for more growth in the future.

“Five years from now I’d like to say that we’ll be busy reviewing architectural plans to get an expansion going,’’ he said. “I’d like to see Curtain Call a major arts center in the community ASAP.”

Curtain Call’s 2023-2024 season features top shows and talent

Voted Fairfield County’s Best Local Theater Group, Curtain Call has a number of big productions scheduled in the near future, including It’s a Wonderful Life, which opens on November 19, 2023 and runs through December 9, and The Sound of Music, which opens on March 29, 2024.

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