Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport will offer a new Community Theatre Series featuring the Bridgeport Theatre Company (BTC). For the first three decades of its existence, the Downtown Cabaret was known for producing high-quality professional theater. Cabaret productions of \u201cEvita,\u201d \u201cHair\u201d and pre-Broadway\u2019s \u201cBlood Brothers,\u201d among others, played extended engagements in Bridgeport and featured professional actors from New York City. However, eventually those shows became prohibitively expensive to produce and had to be discontinued. Quality and professionalism \u201cI have been exploring economical ways to bring back traditional musical theater,\u201d said Hugh Hallinan, Downtown Cabaret executive producer. \u201cThe question was how to smoothly transition from 25 years of award-winning professional theater to non-professional community theater while still retaining a level of quality and professionalism our audiences have come to expect. \u201cFortunately for us,\u201d Hallinan said, \u201ca community theater group has proven to have integrity and a passion for producing musical theater right on our very stage.\u201d The BTC\u2019s upcoming 2013-14 season will begin this fall and includes productions of \u201cLittle Shop of Horrors,\u201d \u201cDreamgirls," \u201cTo Kill a Mockingbird\u201d and \u201cShrek the Musical.\u201d A permanent home Hallinan said Downtown Cabaret has the theater, related facilities and decades of experience in the business, while the nonprofit BTC has been searching for a permanent home. BTC originally put on its productions at the Playhouse on the Green in downtown Bridgeport, but moved its shows to the Downtown Cabaret facility on an \u201cin residence\u201d basis for the past three seasons. The new agreement means the BTC will have a permanently home at the Downtown Cabaret. \u201cIt\u2019s really been a matter of being in the right place at the right time for both theaters,\u201d Hallinan said. Hallinan is enthused that audiences coming to see these shows will take advantage of the infamous "Cabaret experience,\u201d which involves patrons bringing their own meals and refreshments picnic-style to the shows. \u2018Filling the demand\u2019 Eli Newsom, BTC artistic director, said the arrangement will be a boost for local performers and have a positive economic impact on Bridgeport while \u201cfilling the demand of Fairfield County audiences seeking live musical theater entertainment.\u201d The lower costs for BTC\u2019s non-professional productions, which utilizes a mix of local volunteer actors and paid backstage staff, has allowed the troupe to present larger mainstage titles like \u201cRent,\u201d \u201cHairspray\u201d and \u201cNext to Normal.\u201d Downtown Cabaret Theatre and BTC will continue to operate independently, but will share some of the effort of mainstage productions. \u201cIt\u2019s really about sharing in various challenges that nonprofit theater companies face in today\u2019s economic climate,\u201d Newsom said. Ongoing Cabaret offerings In addition to the new Community Theatre Series, the Downtown Cabaret Theatre offers the professional Cabaret Children\u2019s Theatre Company; the Cabaret Nights concert series, featuring such well-known performers as Judy Collins, Crystal Gayle and Gary Puckett; and tribute shows highlighting artists like The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Abba, Bee Gees, and Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra. For more information about the Community Theatre Series, call 203-576-1634 or visit dtcab.com or bridgeporttheatre.org.