In the 16th century, a young couple in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, lost two of their children to the bubonic plague. They did everything they could to protect their third child, William, from the disease. Luckily for us, the Shakespeare family’s young William, survived.
“We too, are surviving, but barely,” said Curtain Call executive director, Lou Ursone, of his theatre company struggling to stay afloat amidst a pandemic. In so doing, Curtain Call will be presenting two weeks of Shakespearean entertainment beginning July 24. “In early April, we made the difficult decision to cancel our planned production of “Romeo & Juliet”. We did so with the hope that we would be able to return to “The Green” with some type of programming this summer, and we are,” he added. Performances will be held July 24, 25, 26, 31 & August 1, 2 at The Sterling Farms Theatre Complex, 1349 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, CT.
Since 2004, Stamford’s nonprofit theatre company has produced full-scale productions of Shakespeare’s plays on their own version of the Globe Theatre stage, at their Sterling Farms campus. With social distancing protocols in place and Zoom rehearsals needed, the program will be quite different. “What we’re doing – called Shakespeare & Song – is essentially a Shakespearean cabaret event,” Ursone said.
Monologues and scenes from their 16 years of Shakespeare on the Green presentations will be supplemented by songs from Shakespeare-inspired musicals like West Side Story, Kiss Me Kate and the like. “We’re doing this like a traditional cabaret event…no sets, maybe a hat, vest or feathered boa for costume, and just the brilliance of Shakespeare’s words,” Ursone said. As in the past, lighting and sound systems will be in place so you can see and hear everything very well. A three-piece band will accompany the singers. “Taming of the Shrew”, “Much Ado About Nothing”, “Merchant of Venice”, “Othello”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Macbeth” and more will be represented as well as songs from the previously mentioned musicals. George Croom is the music director for the program.
One performer who has been part of almost every past Curtain Call summer event, Kevin Thompson, is serving as the director, working with the actors to help brush up their Shakespeare. “I’m really excited to be working with so many of my friends from past shows. Hearing them do pieces from the past has brought back many great memories,” said Thompson. (Thompson likely has one fondest memory of his years with Curtain Call’s Shakespeare on the Green: at the final curtain for a performance of “Othello” in 2013, he proposed marriage to his now wife, Julia Maggiola.)
Due to current safety protocols, ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED. “We are following all State of Connecticut guidelines for seating which includes spacing groups 15 feet apart,” Ursone said. We will have designated spaces, five feet square. (On a blanket, that’s about 4 people comfortably; four chairs as well.) A minimum contribution for a reservation is $25 per person; $20 for Senior Citizens. Children under 21 attend free. Other “house rules”:
– Patrons must follow six foot social distance markers while waiting to be admitted.
– Patrons must wear masks until seated by our ushers.
– Masks may be removed once seated, but are required when passing through the crowd to restrooms or food tent.
– Seating will be on a first come, first served basis as always. (With 15 feet in front or behind you, sightlines will be fine.)
The park will be open for seating at 6:30pm for a 7:30pm start. Blankets and sand chairs are suggested. Alcoholic beverages may not be brought into the park.
Wine, beer, soda, and pre-packaged meals will be available on site provided by The Stillery, the new restaurant at Sterling Farms. You may also order meals in advance by calling 203.998.7225.
“This is unlike anything we’ve ever done, but we’re very happy to be doing it,” Ursone said. “Connecticut has been great at holding back the virus, so as much as we would have loved to do a full show, this is the only safe way we can present some type of entertainment for the community this summer,” he added. Actors will be safely distanced from each other and the audience throughout the night. Patrons who have attended past Shakespeare on the Green events will be treated to performances by many of their favorite performers.
Since mid-March, Ursone has been writing daily missives to his audience…118 days and counting. These brief musings have covered a variety of topics, mostly behind the scenes information most audiences don’t know about. Recent stories have included information on the casting process, famous Broadway shows that were created in Connecticut, costuming and more. “When I started writing these daily messages and made the promise to do so while our stages were dark, I never really thought through how long I could be at it,” Ursone said laughingly. These messages also include a brief video from Curtain Call’s archives – each about a minute long – which he’s been editing at home.
More details are available at www.curtaincallinc.com, or by calling 203-461-6358. “Due to COVID office hours are still limited, so please leave a message and we will get back to you,” Ursone said. Curtain Call is planning other socially safe events for outside later this summer, and possibly, into the fall. Updates will be posted on their website.
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 2020. 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.