Winter Dance Party Proves Worth of Bridgeport’s Downtown Cabaret Theater

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Robert “Bob” Scinto, R.D. Scinto’s Chairman, has been the theater’s Chairman of the Board and a major support for more than 30 years.

The Bridgeport Downtown Cabaret Theater recently presented its “Winter Dance Party” March 14-16. The event was important not only because it triggered fond memories of three rock-and-roll legends, but also because it drove home the importance of the Bridgeport Downtown Cabaret Theater (DCT) as a respected regional theater and an eclectic cultural resource.

The “Winter Dance Party” was also the DCT’s annual benefit performance, which is sponsored by Robert “Bob” Scinto, chairman of Shelton-based real estate company R.D. Scinto Inc. Scinto invited all his tenants and picked up the entire tab, including food and beverages.

Scinto has played a major leadership role on the DCT’s board of directors for more than 30 years. For most of that time, he has been Chairman of the Board, a job probably few people would be able to handle. While the recent “Winter Dance Party” was emblematic of the kind of productions the DCT has consistently produced, outstanding theater alone hasn’t kept this arts institution alive. It’s largely because of the unwavering commitment by Scinto.

“I’ve supported the theater because I believe in it, and I can make a difference,” Scinto said.

“The theater wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for Bob’s support,” said Hugh Hallinan, the DCT’s executive director. “From the onset, he recognized the theater’s importance not only to the city of Bridgeport but also to surrounding towns and cities.”

The morning after the “Winter Dance Party”, due to word of mouth, every ticket in the house for the following performance was sold out.

“I couldn’t do that on my best day,” Hallinan said. “It was a testament to how people feel about Bob.”

Scinto has been the DCT’s lifeline since the early 1980s. He was ideal for the job of heading the board of directors because he had connections, and he realized that the DCT needed to be supported. Scinto strategically used his clout and influence to raise money from the six banks headquartered in downtown Bridgeport in the early 1980s.

With major funding coming from Bridgeport banks, the theater had a powerful start. Scinto went out of his way to keep the relationships with the banks fresh so that they would continue to sponsor and support the theater.

From 1980 to 1990, the DCT’s budget grew, and from 1990 to 2000, the DCT enjoyed rapid and continuous growth; its annual budget jumped to $2.7 million, and the Bridgeport theater was on par with professional theaters like the Long Wharf Theatre and Goodspeed Opera. The DCT also expanded its programming, offering 300 performances a year, including those for children.

By 2005, the national musical theatre scene had shifted, and many long-time theatres faced closure. To keep the DCT going, the business model was changed from producing Broadway shows to presenting concerts, but there was no change in children’s programming.

“In 2010, we merged with the Bridgeport Theater Company and started to bring back Broadway shows as community theater rather than expensive professional productions,” said Hallinan.

With all these changes, the DCT’s future is still uncertain.

“Each year, we struggle to survive,” Hallinan said. “Part of the problem is that we rely too much on ticket revenue. The standard formula for a nonprofit company like ours is 65 percent of the revenue should be earned in ticket sales and the rest through sponsorship and grants. But we’re 90 percent reliant on ticket sales and 10 percent on gifts and sponsorships, which come from the state of Connecticut, People’s United Bank, Stratton Faxon Trial Lawyers, the city of Bridgeport and last but by no means least, the generosity and commitment of Bob Scinto.”

As Hallinan sees it, the DCT will never go under. “Not when we have Bob Scinto to keep us on course,” he said. “He’s been the consistent force which has kept the Downtown Cabaret Theater alive. Bob has never let us down. He’s been an inspiration for me and everyone involved with the theater.”

With that kind of backing, the Downtown Cabaret Theater will continue to make Bridgeport proud by offering Broadway-style shows, concerts and children’s programming. Those interested in supporting this vital cultural institution should contact Hugh Hallinan at hugh(at)dctmail(dot)com or 203-576-1634.

About the company:
Robert D. Scinto, chairman of R. D. Scinto, Inc., has created a legacy on the foundation of hard work, big dreams and careful attention to detail – all of which embody the American dream. He is a partner to his tenants with a singular focus of building beautiful things and showering his partners with customer service excellence and amenities that are unsurpassed. Nothing is left to chance, and Scinto takes nothing for granted. The reputation and lifeline of R.D. Scinto is built on his commitment to treating all tenants with personal, individual service through dignity, honesty and hard work.

With 32 buildings totaling more than 3.2 million square feet of space and an occupancy rate of nearly 98 percent – soaring well above national averages – Scinto realized long ago that excellence in personal service both retains tenants and captures new ones. More than anything, this philosophy has translated into a successful business model within commercial property ownership and management. For more information about R.D. Scinto, visit their website at

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