The Bard is Back! Free Shakespeare returns to Stamford

Crowds gather for Romeo & Juliet at one of the previous installments of the free Shakespeare summer plays produced by Curtain Call in Stamford (contributed photo)

When the Duke of Vienna sets off on a diplomatic mission abroad he hands over power to the austere Lord Angelo, who enforces the city’s long-dormant moral code with draconian zeal. But when a pious young nun comes to Angelo to plead for the life of her doomed brother, she sets in motion a series of events that test the limits of human will, and reveal a tangled web of desire and deception. These tales of deception, love and morality come together in Curtain Call’s 19th summer of Shakespeare on the Green – Measure for Measure – playing outdoors in Stamford, July 14 through 24.

Measure for Measure is a fascinating tragi-comedy revolving around crooked politicians, sexual harassment, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, imminent executions and resolutions relying on bedroom and jail-cell switcheroos. “While it would be tempting to set this story in modern times, we’ve left it as set by Shakespeare,” said Lou Ursone, Curtain Call executive director and producer for this production.

Performances will be held nightly at 7:30pm on the great lawn alongside The Royal Green Restaurant (sponsor of the event) at Sterling Farms on Newfield Avenue, Stamford. Kyle Runestad, who last directed Romeo and Juliet in 2021, as well as the previous five years of Shakespeare on the Green productions, is directing.

Runestad has appeared on stage in nine Shakespeare on the Green productions and has also appeared in several regular season productions including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Man of la Mancha and Shakespeare in Love. “I’m thrilled to have Kyle back with us,” said Ursone. “He’s passionate about Shakespeare and really knows how to work with actors to get the most out of them,” he added. Others on the production team include Robin Mazzola as costume designer with set design by Peter Barbieri, Jr., lighting and sound design by Jamie LaJoie. The stage management team, led by Jan Ursone, includes Martha Dombroski and John Zimmerman.

While not one of Shakespeare’s best-known shows, the play has been adapted dozens of times on TV, radio and film. Two musicalizations include the opera Das Liebesverbot (1836) by Richard Wagner with the libretto written by the composer and Desperate Measures (2004), with book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg and music by CT resident, David Friedman.

The cast of 17 includes several veteran Shakespeare on the Green performers as well as five performers making their debut on the green: Adam Boaz, Sarah Chute, Brian Heuer, Rachel Lese, Brian Maher, Richard Mancini, Celine Montaudy, Rob Nichols, Frank Pagliaro, Rebecca Romeo, Charlotte Roth, Karyn Samuelson, Greg Suss, Tyler Small, Michael Stack, Kathryn Tracy, Amy Wade.

This year’s free (contributions appreciated) outdoor production will play on Curtain Call’s own version of the Globe Theatre stage (designed by Curtain Call’s associate artistic director, Peter Barbieri, Jr.), July 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24 at 7:30pm each day. The park will open to patrons at 6:00 pm for seating. A limited amount of reserved seating is available each night for $25 per person.

Food and beverages will be available in the adjoining tent or may be pre-ordered through The Stillery/Royal Green Restaurant – 203-998-7225. (Alcoholic beverages may not be brought into the park.). Additional parking is available across the street at Davenport Ridge School.

“Outdoor Shakespeare is a terrific way to introduce audiences to the works of Shakespeare,” Ursone said. “The casual atmosphere makes the entire event less intimidating – more accessible – and ultimately more enjoyable,” he added. “From Shakespeare aficionados to those hearing his words for the first time, young and old alike can enjoy this production,” he said. Ursone noted that many families of all ages have been in attendance in past years. Patrons are encouraged to bring blankets and/or chairs.

Nestled among the pine trees of the Sterling Farms complex on Newfield Avenue, this is a unique experience for the community to participate in and enjoy the works of Shakespeare. Curtain Call’s annual outing is much akin to an old-fashioned repertory company: many actors return each year either on stage or off, to be a part of it. The entire cast (along with many past performers) were on hand to help build the stage in early June.

Free outdoor Shakespeare is a summer ritual all around the world, but hadn’t been a part of the Stamford cultural landscape until Curtain Call launched this program in 2004. “We’re thrilled to be joining other great area presenters in adding to the wonderful opportunities in the arts that Fairfield County is known for. As Stamford’s longest-running and only year-round, non-profit producing theatre organization, this program was a natural extension of our expanding base of programs” Ursone said. Barbieri added “I cannot believe that this is our nineteenth year. It seems like only yesterday that we were building the actual pieces of The Globe. Our audiences have continually grown with many new people showing up each year to enjoy the experience.”

This program is the result of a major collaboration on the part of Curtain Call, The Stamford Golf Authority and The Stillery/Royal Green Restaurants. “It’s an absolutely amazing time for all of us here at Sterling Farms,” Ursone noted, adding that for many years, people talked about having free Shakespeare in Stamford and now it’s a summer tradition for many. “We are thrilled to be able to provide this annual event free to area residents through the generous financial support of several sponsors like our lead sponsors The Garden Homes Foundation and The Stillery/Royal Green Restaurant.

Additional support is from The Connecticut office of the Arts, RBC, Simply Signs and many individuals,” Ursone added. All Curtain Call programming is produced in cooperation with The City of Stamford.

“We are thrilled to offer this free event each year to the community,” Ursone said. “Of course, we appreciate contributions from our guests, but all are welcome…whether they can contribute or not. Curtain Call suggests contributions of $20 per person for adults; $10 for senior citizens and children.

More information is available at or by calling 203-329-8207. 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 workshops 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 10 years running in the Annual Readers’ Poll of Fairfield County Weekly and has received similar BEST OF awards from Stamford Plus magazine for 2008 through 2022 and Stamford Magazine. 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.

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