Amid noise-makes, placards and banners akin to an old-fashioned political convention, a crowd of nearly 700 jumped to its feet in appreciation of 11 community leaders stepping out of their comfort zones at Curtain Call’s Dancing With The Stars on Saturday, May 17.
Lisa Maronian of Stamford owner of
Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes, really took the cake as she, along with her professional dance partner Ivan Angelkovski (from
Dance With Me, Stamford), received the Judges' Choice Award (female division) at Curtain Call’s
seventh annual fundraiser held at the Palace Theatre, Stamford.
Stamford resident Dominick Bria of Salesforce.com, was a force to be reckoned with as he and his professional dance partner Kelly Butler (from Arthur Murray Grande Ballroom of Greenwich) received the Judges' Choice Award (male division). In recognition of his outstanding fundraising efforts for the event, Bria also received the People's Choice Award.
JoAnn Latorraca, co-owner of The Waters Edge at Giovanni's Restaurant, received the Friendraiser Award for getting the most individuals to participate in this annual gathering. Latorraca was partnered with Lou Lopez of Latin Moves Dance Studio. (Lopez has donated his services for every dancing stars event that Curtain Call has hosted.)
Curtain Call, Stamford's longest-running and only year ‘round nonprofit
producing theatre company, hosted this fun-filled fundraiser which began at
UConn Stamford with a cocktail party feting all of the dancers.
A wide array of food and beverage were provided by
Columbus Park Trattoria,
David's Soundview Catering,
DiMare Pastry Shop,
Forever Sweet Bakery,
Marcia Selden Catering,
napa & co.,
Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes,
The Capital Grille,
The Waters Edge at Giovanni's,
Broken Shed Vodka,
Crystal Rock, and
"Each year I am totally overwhelmed by the community’s support for this event," said Lou Ursone, Curtain Call's executive director.
"With so many arts organizations locally and nationally struggling financially, we know how very fortunate we are to keep our lights burning," he said. "The economy is still very challenging for nonprofit organizations so it takes special events like this to help keep us in the black.”
Arts funding at the State level has been reduced over the past several years
leaving funding gaps for many local arts organizations.
For this year's event, in addition to Bria, Latorraca and Maronian, eight other local celebrities/civic leaders volunteered to spend several months in preparation for the event.
They were partnered with dance professionals from throughout the area.
This year's lineup of dancers included:
- Jeff Brandi (Stamford) Senior Merchandising Manager,
Carollee LLC – Professional Dance Partner: Virginia Coker -
Dance With Me, Stamford;
Tammy Felenstein (Stamford) Director of Sales,
Halstead Properties - Professional Dance Partner: Thomas Varian -
Arthur Murray Grande Ballroom of Greenwich;
- Frank Lucherini (Stamford) Owner,
Dairy Queen - Professional Dance Partner:
Lauren Nicole Sherwood – Diva Star Productions;
- Ron Rosenfeld (Ridgefield) Owner,
New Balance, New Canaan - Professional Dance Partner:
Karen Casagrande –
- Jim Sabia (Stamford) – Retired Stamford Public Schools Teacher – Professional Dance Partner: Meredith Landphair - Dance With Me, Stamford;
- Nicole Straight (Westport) - Marketing Manager,
Marcia Selden Catering - Professional Dance Partner: Ted Thomas -
New England Academy of Dance;
Kaitlyn Tarpey (Stamford) Miss CT 2013 - Professional Dance Partner: - Moises Guerrero -
Arthur Murray Grande Ballroom of Greenwich;
- Brooke Troisi (Bloomfield, NJ) Line Producer, Maury Show and Trisha Show, NBC Universal's Stamford Media Center - Professional Dance Partner: Ronny Dutra - Dance With Me, Stamford.
Co-chairs of the event were Robin Selden and Jami Sherwood, both of Stamford. Each is a Curtain Call Board member and was a volunteer Star Dancer at a prior dancing stars event.
"Dancing in 2008 was such an incredible experience," Sherwood said. "I never thought I would have so much fun doing this. It made getting each year's line-up of volunteer Star Dancers psyched, very easy."
Selden noted that "each of our volunteer dancers, amateur and professional alike, were completely committed to this event and that made our jobs so much easier."
"We hope to make each year's event even bigger and better," Ursone said, noting that many new civic leaders have already come forth volunteering to participate next year. "I can’t wait to see next year's line-up of Star Dancers, but one won’t be me" he added with a smile.
"A major part of this event – patterned after the popular
television show - is the video component which included behind the
scenes rehearsal footage," Ursone said.
Richard Levitt, President of RHL Media made all of that possible. Judges for the event were Juanita James, Jimmy Locust and Maureen Pavia, each of whom participated at prior Dancing With The Stars events.
In addition to the culinary and beverage sponsors, other key event sponsors were Dominick Bria and Salesforce.com, Halstead Property, Marcia Selden Catering, NBC Universal's Stamford Media Center, Noble Salon, Nancy Thode, Lou and Jan Ursone, Seymour and Harriet Weinstein.
"Planning for this year's event started the day after we held our last event,"
said Sherwood. Other committee members included: co-chair, Diane
Arditti, Emily Bonenfant, Bob Callahan, Lynne Colatrella, Nicole Faugno, Juanita James, Richard Levitt, Betsy Mercede, Lori Mercede, Tom Ormond, Jan Ursone, Lou Ursone and Gail Yudain.
"Our board, staff and a large group of amazing volunteers continue to make this event the premier special event in the area each year," Ursone said.
the winners were announced, the audience was treated to a sneak peak of
the upcoming June production of the musical comedy, Gypsy, playing in
The Kweskin Theatre.
"As a lifelong Stamford resident and member of the arts community here, I can't tell you how exciting it is to see this outpouring of support from our community to help keep our community theatre strong," Ursone said. Since 1972, live theatrical productions have been presented at Sterling Farms, the home of Curtain Call since 1992.
Now wrapping up its 23rd season, Curtain Call is the
nonprofit community-based theatre company in residence at the Sterling
Farms complex, 1349 Newfield Ave. in Stamford.
productions and workshops are presented by and for area residents in The Kweskin Theatre and The Dressing Room Theatre as well as outdoors on
the great lawn for its annual Shakespeare on the Green presentations.
Curtain Call has been voted Fairfield County's Best Local Theatre Group every
year since 2005 in the Annual Readers' Poll of The Fairfield County
Weekly as well as Best Local Theatre and Best Performing Arts Group by
StamfordPlus and Stamford Magazine, respectively, for the past several
Curtain Call also received The Governor's Award for Excellence in Culture and Tourism - 2011. In a statewide Facebook poll in August 2012, Curtain Call was the state's favorite theatre site.
For more information on upcoming shows, workshops and daytime summer youth programs, call 203-329-8207x11 or go online to