Not since Cain and Abel has there been a fraternal rivalry like the one at Curtain Call's Dancing with the Stars event, Saturday night, May 18. And though there was a casket onstage later in the evening, there was no bloodshed, and one brother came out on top when Chris Carozza of the Carozza Realty Group, bested his brother, Michael Carozza of Carozza Fitness, by winning the Judges’ Choice Award (male division). Chris’ professional partner was Iraida Volodina of Arthur Murray Greenwich.
Pina Abbazia, F.A. Bartlett Tree Experts, and her professional partner, Justin Allen, also of Arthur Murray Greenwich, won the Judges’ Choice Award (female division) after whipping the crowd into a frenzy dancing to the 1974 hit song, “Killer Queen.”
Pina Abbazia, F.A. Bartlett Tree Experts, and her professional partner, Justin Allen, also of Arthur Murray Greenwich
The Peoples’ Choice Awards (male and female divisions, respectively) went to Kyle Foti, Partner, Murace Management LLC/ Realtor, Coldwell Banker, and his professional partner, Kimberly J. Charles, Latin Moves Dance Studio and Dr. Biana Lanson, Physician/Partner, Ear, Nose & Throat Center, LLP, and her professional partner, Ted Thomas, New England Academy of Dance.
Kyle Foti, Partner, Murace Management LLC/ Realtor, Coldwell Banker, and his professional partner, Kimberly J. Charles, Latin Moves Dance Studio
Dr. Biana Lanson, Physician/Partner, Ear, Nose & Throat Center, LLP, and her professional partner, Ted Thomas, New England Academy of Dance.
Recognized with the Friend Raiser Award for garnering support for the event from so many different individuals, was Tom Gallagher, Owner, Thomas Gallagher Funeral Home, with his professional partner, Lauren Nicole Sherwood, Diva Star Productions.
Tom Gallagher, Owner, Thomas Gallagher Funeral Home, with his professional partner, Lauren Nicole Sherwood, Diva Star Productions.
Gallagher was responsible for the aforementioned casket on stage: his partner popped out of it at the top of their number – he jumped in it for the finale.
This year's event was presented by Ear, Nose and Throat, LLP, with support from many other businesses, organizations and individuals. Judges for the event included George H. Croom, a long-time Curtain Call director and professional performer; Broadway veteran, Frank Root, and Maureen Pavia, director, Dancing Classrooms, and a former professional dance partner at this event.
In addition to the twelve dance routines by this year’s volunteers, the audience was also treated to performances by the cast of Curtain Call’s upcoming production of Big River – the Tony Award-winning musical adaptation of Huckleberry Finn.
“As I walked around the pre-show party at UConn Stamford, and later, through the auditorium of the Palace Theatre, I saw people from all walks of life, all ages – kids as young as five and at least one nonagenarian, (my mom at 97+) – and I realized that this was our community here to support our community theatre,” said Lou Ursone, Curtain Call executive director. Heading into his 20th season as head of the award-winning theatre company, Ursone said that he was overwhelmed by the level of support for this year’s event. “This was the largest crowd we’ve ever had at the event – nearly 1,100 people at The Palace – that is just incredible,” Ursone said.
The other amazing volunteers who participated on stage in the event were: Patricia Battinelli Blasius, Office Manager, The Waters Edge at Giovanni’s, with independent choreographer, Quinn Jaxon; Michael Carozza, Owner, with Lina Mambella, Metropolitan Dance Center; Adriana Santaniello Cognetta, Assistant Manager, Bank of America, with Ricardo Sopin, Arthur Murray Greenwich; Merryl Hackman, with John Campbell, Metropolitan Dance Center; Monica Lynn, Owner, 5 Squares Healthful Home Food Delivery, with Giovanni D’Arpino, Metropolitan Dance Center; Judd Malin, Owner, FISH Restaurant and Bar /Quattro Pazzi of Stamford, with Katie Arbulu, Arthur Murray Greenwich; Dr. Brian Yomtov, Owner/Chiropractor, Advanced Chiropractic & Wellness, LLC, with Kelly Nayden, Independent Choreographer.
This fun-filled fundraiser began at UConn Stamford with a cocktail party feting all of the dancers. A wide array of food and beverage were provided by Crystal Rock, Constellation Brands and Heineken USA, Bull Pan Korean BBQ, Celebrations by Lina, Chocolate Works of Darien, David’s Soundview Catering, DiMare Pastry Shop, FISH Restaurant and Bar, Myrna’s Kitchen, Nikki Glekas Events, Parkway Diner, Quattro Pazzi, Reddi Rooster, René León Catering, Riko’s Pizza, Sign of the Whale, Sushi Village, The Cakery CT and The Waters Edge at Giovanni's.
Co-chairs for the event were Nikki Glekas and JoAnn Latorraca, both former volunteer Star Dancers and long-time food sponsors for the event. Jami Sherwood, a volunteer Star Dancer from 2008, served as Chair Emeritus. "Dancing that first year was such an incredible experience...I never thought I would have so much fun doing this. It has made getting each year's line-up of volunteer Star Dancers psyched, very easy," said Sherwood. Latorraca 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." Glekas, among other things, has been responsible for corralling her colleagues in the hospitality industry to provide the incredible array of food and drink offered each year at the pre-show cocktail party.
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. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all who made this event so successful, but truly, without the support of the dance professionals at Arthur Murray Greenwich, Diva Star Productions, Latin Moves Dance Studio, Metropolitan Dance Center and New England Academy of Dance, as well as independent choreographers Quinn Jaxon and Kelly Nayden, we couldn’t do this event.”
“We truly appreciate the patrons in attendance, those who voted on line, purchased ads for the event journal, the food and beverage sponsors, the volunteers…everyone who had a hand in helping us raise more than $150,000 this year,” said Ursone.
A major part of this event – patterned after the popular television show - is the video component which included behind the scenes rehearsal footage. Volunteers, David Klein, DEK productions, and William Squier, a Curtain Call board member, masterminded the production of the videos that showed the dancers laughing at themselves through the rehearsal process.
"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, noting that more than 50 volunteers were on hand to make this event flow smoothly.
Curtain Call is the nonprofit community-based theatre company in residence at the Sterling Farms 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 as well as outdoors on the great lawn for its annual Shakespeare on the Green presentations.
Curtain Call was voted Fairfield County's BEST LOCAL THEATRE GROUP 10 years in a row by the Annual Readers' Poll of The Fairfield County Weekly as well as BEST LOCAL THEATRE and BEST PERFORMING ARTS GROUP in StamfordPlus Magazine for more than ten years. Curtain Call also received The Governor's Award for Excellence in Culture and Tourism in 2011, The ACE Award from the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County in 2016, and, 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 www.curtaincallinc.com.
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