WESTERLY — She performed on stage as Eva Peron, Lady Capulet and Kate Pinkerton of ‘Madama Butterfly,’ criss-crossed the country with the ‘Victor Victoria’ nationwide tour, conducted shows at Ivoryton Playhouse, helped create public art and music programs and served as CEO of a groundbreaking, groundbreaking, Tony Award-winning Broadway production company.
And now, Connecticut native Carly Callahan — musician, actress, singer, mother, wife, and outspoken advocate for community arts organizations — is set to take on a different role: as the new executive director of Westerly’s United Theater.
“It’s like a dream come true,” an exuberant Callahan said on Friday afternoon as she spoke about her new job and her trip to Canal Street. “I feel incredibly blessed…and grateful. I pinch myself.
“I feel like I’m in the right place at the right time,” continued Callahan, who said she can’t wait to “get started” and “embrace all the creative thinkers” in the area.
“Building community in a state-of-the-art facility,” she mused with a wave of her hand, “I’m chomping at the bit.
“I really want to meet people and listen…to understand the community,” Callahan said warmly. “I know it’s going to be a huge orientation, but I’m excited and can’t wait to gobble it all up.”
The possibilities ahead seem limitless, she said, as do the “opportunities for great things.”
“Especially as we come out of the pandemic, I want the United States to be a home for everyone.”
Building community through the arts, she said, and being a part of United Theater history, along with the staff and board, “is a privilege.”
Callahan, who studied classical voice at the Manhattan School of Music and monologue study with the New England Actors Theatre, said she wasn’t looking for a new job when she heard about the vacancy in the United States. United, but the more she learned. – and about the “incredible renaissance” taking place in Westerly, the more interested she is in it.
Finally, she threw her hat into the ring.
In a joint statement, Charles M. “Chuck” Royce and Nicholas Moore – members of the Ocean Community United Theater board of directors, who co-chaired the search for the new executive director – said they were “extremely thrilled” to welcome Callahan to the theater so that the “incredible complex” can be catapulted to “new heights”.
“We’re delighted,” Moore said on Friday afternoon as he sat with Callahan and Royce in the Cafe next door to United. Both men highlighted Carly’s “dynamic leadership skills” and outlined their plans to continue to “reach out and engage individuals and institutions” in the region.
She starts her new job on November 1.
“What a gift,” said Callahan, whose interest in the job deepened after his initial interviews with Royce and Moore, and after meeting United’s “incredible” board, “to be able to engage the community and moving the work forward is already done.”
Callahan praised United’s board and staff for their leadership, vision and dedication.
To have such a board already in place, with members who possess “such a high level of professionalism”, is a dream, she said.
“I feel a deep connection to this field,” said Callahan, who lives in Essex with her husband, Matthew Callahan, professor of finance at Providence College. “I feel like our roots are here, like it’s in our DNA.”
Originally from Simsbury, Connecticut, Callahan – who spent his childhood summers sailing the waters of Little Narragansett Bay aboard the family boat The Starlight Express – has many happy memories of Westerly, Watch Hill and the original Ocean House, Stonington and stops at Noah’s, and Mystic and trips to Mystic Seaport.
Callahan said she and her husband — both Brown University graduates — plan to move closer to Westerly as soon as they find the right place. With their two daughters in Farmington, Conn., – Cate, 16, and Caroline, 14, are both students at Miss Porter’s School – Matt is heading to Providence and his new job at Westerly, they plan to find a place easily accessible at all three locations.
As a “passionate advocate for community organizations and arts groups”, Callahan’s work in the non-profit sector includes co-founding and serving on the board of the Guilford Performing Arts Festival, co-founding “Free Keys” , the public art and music program that puts the pianos – all painted by local artists – in locations along the Connecticut coastline and sits on the boards of the Madison Chamber of Commerce, the Ivoryton Playhouse and by Gallim Dance.
Callahan also directed and starred in “Playhouse on the Shore”, a cabaret series presented by Ivoryton Playhouse.
“Carly is a superhero,” said Jacqueline Hubbard, artistic director of Ivoryton Playhouse. “You don’t come across many like her. She’s kind of a rare bird. She’s able to juggle a lot of things at once and juggle them all well.
“If she says she’ll agree to something, you know she’ll do it, and she’ll do it better than anyone else. Plus, she’s one hell of a singer and actress.”
Most recently, Callahan served as Managing Director of Seaview Productions – the New York-based production company founded by Greg Nobile and Jana Shea – which captured worldwide attention for “boldly reinventing the future of entertainment “.
Seaview is the company responsible for bringing several visionary productions to Broadway, including Selina Fillinger’s “POTUS,” 12-time Tony-nominated Jeremy O. Harris’ “Slave Play,” and four-time Tony-nominated “Sea Wall/A Life.” to the Tonys. “, with Jake Gyllenhall and Tom Sturridge.
Seaview is also responsible for producing the Webby Award-winning “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical” and creating Broadway’s first NFT marketplace, bway.io.
“After a wonderful four-year tenure at Seaview, I am so excited and invigorated to lead this center for culture and community at Westerly and to continue the work of this dedicated Board of Directors and phenomenal staff,” said Callahan. in a press release. “This extraordinary complex provides a world-class center of gravity for creative work in our region and is a testament to the power of the arts to uniquely bring our community together.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to take the helm and propel United forward,” said the 47-year-old, who has also performed on stage at Lincoln Center, Connecticut’s Opera Theater , Cortland Repertory Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Bridgeport Downtown. Cabaret theatre. “I couldn’t be happier.”
The United States has been without an executive director since last spring, when Lisa Utman Randall, the first person appointed to the post in 2019, announced her intention to step down.
The United Theater, originally a vaudeville theater in 1926, was closed for many years before reopening in June 2021 after a $17 million renovation. It is made up of three buildings, three cinemas, a large hall with a black box balcony with a capacity of 500 people, an art gallery and a reception area, and a music school with seven acoustically isolated managed in collaboration with Rhode Island. Philharmonic Orchestra and School of Music. Its mission is “to unite the community through the arts”.