WESTERLY, RI (CelebrityAccess) – She’s performed on stage as Eva Peron and Lady Capulet, crisscrossed the country with the national tour of “Victor Victoria,” helped create public art and music programs, and served as managing director of a Tony Award-winning Broadway production company.
Connecticut native Carly Callahan — musician, actor, singer, mother, wife, and fierce advocate for community-based arts organizations has taken on a new role as the Executive Director of Westerly’s United Theatre.
“It’s like a dream come true,” said Callahan to The Westerly Sun on Friday afternoon as she spoke about her new position and her journey to Canal Street. “I feel incredibly blessed … and grateful. I’m pinching myself.
“I feel like I am at the right place at the right time. Building community in a state-of-the-art facility – I’m chomping at the bit. I really want to meet people and to listen … to understand the community. I know it will be a huge orientation, but I’m excited and eager 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 to be a home for everyone.”
Callahan, who studied classical voice at the Manhattan School of Music and monologue study with the New England Actors Theater, wasn’t looking for a new job when she heard about the open position at the United, but the more she learned about it, the more interested she became. She then applied for the open slot.
Charles M. “Chuck” Royce and Nicholas Moore — members of the Ocean Community United Theatre Board of Directors, who co-chaired the search for the new executive director — said they were “enormously excited” about welcoming Callahan to the theater so the “amazing complex” can be catapulted to “new heights.”
Callahan takes her post beginning November 1.
Callahn hails from Simsury, CT and spent her childhood sailing through the waters of Little Narragansett Bay has fond memories of Stonington, Mystic, and the Seaport.
As a “passionate advocate for community-based organizations and arts groups,” Callahan’s work in the nonprofit sector includes serving on the board of the Guilford Performing Arts Festival, cofounding “Free Keys,” the public art and music program that put pianos in locations along the Connecticut shoreline, and serving on the boards of the Madison Chamber of Commerce, the Ivoryton Playhouse and Gallim Dance.
“Carly is a superhero,” said Jacqueline Hubbard, the artistic director of Ivoryton Playhouse. “You don’t meet many like her. She’s sort of a rare bird. She is able to juggle many things at once and juggle them all well. If she says she’ll take something on, you know she will, and she’ll do it better than anyone else could. Plus, she’s one hell of a singer and an actor.”
Most recently Callahan served as managing director of Seaview Productions, based in New York City – that’s been attracting attention for the “reimaging the future of entertainment.”
Seaview is the company responsible for bringing several visionary productions to Broadway, including Selina Fillinger’s POTUS, Jeremy O. Harris’ 12-time Tony-nominated Slave Play, and the four-time Tony-nominated Sea Wall/A Life, starring Jake Gyllenhall and Tom Sturridge.
“After a wonderful four-year tenure at Seaview, I am so excited and invigorated to lead this hub of culture and community in Westerly and further the work of this dedicated board and phenomenal staff,” Callahan said in a statement. “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 singularly bring our community together.
The United has been without an executive director since last spring, when Lisa Utman Randall, the first person appointed to the role in 2019, announced her plans to step down.
The United Theatre, originally a vaudeville theatre in 1926, was closed for many years before it reopened in June 2021 after a $17 million renovation. It has a black-box balconied venue with a 500-person capacity, an art gallery and reception space, and a music school with seven music classrooms.