Hugh Hallinan Speech

Please join me in thanking Paul Timpanelli and Mayor Finch for taking the time to be here today, kicking off our 40th year in Bridgeport.  Thank you both.

How do you top that Main Stage lineup, MEMPHIS – FIDDLER – EVITA – GATSBY – AMERICAN IDIOT?

Outstanding isn’t it ?

You don’t top it —  You keep building on it.

In 1980 Generation 1 of Bridgeport Hallinan’s re-opened a dark DCT with the US Premiere of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Colour Dreamcoat. It wasn’t long after the Cabaret Children’s Company was born by introducing a “G” rated version of Joseph.

The formula worked well with Broadway musicals and children’s theatre for 25 years.  In 2005 the main stage musicals having grown from an annual budget of $100,000 a year to $2.7 million, finally became too much to sustain in a 300 seat venue running shows on the weekend.

DCT struggled on for another year which marked the end of an era on two counts.

Part of Generation 1 of Clan Hallinan.  Executive Producer Richard Hallinan died after a 20 year struggle with parkinson’s disease.

My Father and Mother, Susan Hallinan made the impossible happen.

Growing the DCT in to a regional union theatre on a par with Goodspeed Opera House, Long Wharf, Hartford Stage, Westport Country Playhouse.

Receiving nominations and award for decades side by side with the aforementioned theatres from the CT Critics Circle.

Talk about the Little Theatre That Did… Did the impossible… Again, and again, against all odds …and believe me there were some really odd odds along the way!

What was I doing while all these miracles were taking place?  I managed the technical side of things.

Okay then where was I?  Ah yes… build on it

After taking the helm in 2006 as Executive Producer, Gen 2 of Hallinan’s so to speak continued.  I made the difficult decision to halt main stage musicals and focus on maintaining the successful and sustaining childrens theatre and introduce concerts to fill the void for weekend evening entertainment.

DCT now has not 1, not 2  but 3 distinct divisions of entertainment.

Main Stage Theatre, filled with the very best from Broadway, Main Stage Concerts, and Children’s Theatre.

Our Children’s Theatre is Professionally produced from the ground up with a superb creative team and local actors.

Producing book musicals like Annie Jr and Peter Pan Jr to original shows written by DCT in house author Phill Hill.

I’m not sure if I’ll get this quote completely correct but it was Mike Ross from Westport Country Playhouse that said “When it come to children’s theatre in CT. — DCT’s Children’s Theatre sets the bar”  …close enough?  Thanks Mike!

Before I wrap up and take any questions let me answer at least one.

Bridgeport Theatre Company and Eli Newsom.

I was aware of a production of Rent being produced at the Playhouse On The Green by a new theatre company. The last thing I ever imagined was that BTC would be the answer to intended re-start of the Broadway musicals and plays at DCT.  Well here we are and I can’t think of a better way to do it.

When playhouse on the green closed it’s doors in 2011 it  was the start of what has evolved into the merging of BTC into DCT.

It was also the beginning of the working relationship between Eli and myself that has continued to grow into what is now a partnership.

Last summer after it was decided to re-start DCT’s Main Stage Musicals the planning process began.  It finally boiled down to two choices.

Hire a person to run the main stage productions along with the necessary support staff

OR bring Eli Newsom and his team on board.

With the success BTC was enjoying entering its fifth year it was difficult to know how the suggestion of merging the two organizations and dropping the BTC name would be received.

After a summer of meetings between DCT and BTC with the majority of the delicate process being worked out between Eli Newsom, BTC board member, Steve Benko and myself we managed to successfully work out all the details to merge operations without losing BTC’s organic process and Eli’s autonomy.



40 Years… and with respect to Main Stage Theatre we’ve come full circle, a do over with one big advantage we do know now what I wished we know then.

In 1980 Mayor Mandanici told my Father that Bridgeport was in the revitalisation process that would take five years! I’m not sure it that was cockeyed optimism or a politician speaking but he missed the mark by 30 years!

All the mayors of Bridgeport understood the importance of a theatre in the city.

That certainly holds true of Mayor Finch, his Chief of Staff Adam Wood and the City’s Chief Operating Officer Andy Nunn, who in a very un-political way looked after the best interests of the Cabaret during what was a long and arduous process of selling the building, the theatre is housed in to our new landlord Phil Kuchma.

Phil has a tough act to follow but we have already made great progress in revitalizing the building both inside and out.  …and it won’t take 35 years to do it! Thanks Phil and thank you Mayor Finch.

Just before I ask Eli to re-join me I have a shameless plug for our St. Patricks event this Saturday, Direct from Ireland, landed today, Paul Byrom in concert.  Paul formerly of Celtic Thunder will perform on concert and if you use promo code 40 you will get half price tickets.

And finally!  The kick off Gala fundraising event for the DCT’s 40th anniversary on November 14

Eli come on out and give us the rundown.