At the Abbey of Regina Laudis  • 249 Flanders Road • Bethlehem, CT 06751  |  Directions
For tickets and information visit: The Gary-The Olivia Performing Arts Center.

Go to Current Production Schedule.

companyIn 2014 Sally and Thomas Camm chose a name for the actors' company working at The Gary-The Olivia Theater. A theater company is a body of actors committed to preparation and performance of a play. The Clay & Wattles Theater Company is a 501-c3 performing arts and educational nonprofit organization. Thomas and Sally explain the inspiration behind their choice of the name:

The name Clay & Wattles has a literary reference in the W.B.Yeats’ poem, ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ and communicates the importance of having a connection to nature in a person’s life. It starts, ‘I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made.’ theaterClay & wattles also are ancient building materials, found in nature and used throughout the world. They provide a strong yet flexible resource for building and a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to other conventional methods and materials. By analogy nature’s sounds, scents and movements permeate the stage at The Gary-The Olivia Theater and in fact are sometimes used to extend and enhance the set and stage design. Nature is clearly a part of the experience at The Gary-The Olivia. The presence and awareness of nature can help to ground the performer in his/her body, feelings, experience and intuition as they attempt to bring a character to life and draw out the humanness in a role. So on stage clay and wattles (nature) is a kind of touchstone, that if we are fortunate enough, helps us connect with and express our common humanity.

Mother DoloresThe Gary-The Olivia Theater is an open air theater that was built in 1982 and seats about 300 people. The theater is covered but opens at the back to the woods of the Abbey land, and the trees and birds are often a feature of the theatrical world that is created on stage. The link between drama and monastic life is an ancient one, but The Gary-The Olivia Theater in particular owes its existence to Reverend Mother Dolores Hart, the actress, who in 1963 gave up a successful Hollywood career to become a nun at the Abbey. Far from putting an end to her acting career, she discovered that monastic life transcended her acting vocation: Obviously a cloistered monastery is not the conventional place that one goes to realize one's potential as an actress. And yet, in my case, my vocation as an actress could only have reached its fullest expression, its fullest expansion because I was fortunate enough to have been called to a monastic way of life.

In the 1970's, a company of actors called the Act Association formed around James and Dawn Douglas, friends of Mother Dolores, and fellow actors. Patricia Neal and James Douglas performed together in A.R. Gurney's play Love Letters, and over the years productions by the group have ranged from Shakespeare to Sartre, from opera to musical reviews. The Theater has also performed musicals in recent years:My Fair Lady, The Music Man, Fiddler On The Roof, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls and Oklahoma, South Pacific and Fiorello. You can read the glowing reviews of these performances at the Clay & Wattles Theater Company website.

The mission of Clay & Wattles Theater Company, as expressed by directors Sally and Thomas Camm, is organize, manage and execute a professional performing arts center Tom(theater, music, dance) that provides unique opportunities to integrate the arts, gives performers a professional and supportive environment in which to grow and develop their performing skills and provides audiences with rich, complex and compelling theatrical experiences of what it is to be human—and in so doing enrich the cultural landscape of Northwest, CT and the greater CT, NY and NJ region.

Currently the Camms produce two major productions a year, a play and a musical (with the goal of expanding the number and variety of productions in the future), along with an annual concert/fundraiser for the theater. The productions are attended by over 3000 people and are reviewed by major media outlets in Connecticut. Auditions are held each year and actors from the local community theater network, local colleges and universities, and from Actor’s Equity audition for roles in the various productions. And there are newcomers, young people who live in the area for whom the experience of acting at the Abbey theater has opened up a new and rich dimension to their lives. For more information on how to get involved visit the Clay & Wattles Theater Company website.

theaterThe Season opened in June with performances of one act plays Blind Date and The Actor written by American Playwright Horton Foote. These beautifully written comedies set in the fictional town of Harrison, Texas delighted the audiences. Read an article in the Connecticut Post about the Clay & Wattles Theater Company and The Gary-The Olivia Theater.

theater August 2014—The musical for this summer season is the classic Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun. The 1946 musical is most famous for its music and lyrics by Mr. Berlin, with many familiar songs including “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”, “I Got the Sun In The Morning”, “Moonshine Lullaby”, “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”, and “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Annie Get Your Gun is a great story of a remarkable woman—strong, intelligent and possessing world class athletic skills—and the great love of her life and success as both performer and business woman. The script by Herbert and Dorothy Fields was updated for a successful Broadway revival in 1999 starring Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat.

Read a reflection on Annie Get Your Gun by Mother Dolores Hart.

Performance Schedule

Read a rave review of opening night performance of Annie Get Your Gun by Nancy Sasso Janis.
Newspaper articles about the Clay & Wattles Theater Company production of Annie Get Your Gun:
—In Voices: ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ Slated to Open in Bethlehem Theater by Jean Dunn
—In the Torrington Register Citizen Newspaper: Bethlehem: Annie Get Your Gun opens Aug 1 at The Gary-The Olivia Theater
—In the Hartford Courant: Annie Get Your Gun' In The Open Air by Christopher Arnott

From the opening strains of the overture played by the fine eight-member orchestra under the direction of Jerold Goldstein, this production did not disappoint. For me, the show actually began when we got our first sight of the magnificent scenery designed and painted by Matt Wood...

New York based actress Chandra Albritton was cast in the title role and was a pleasure to watch. She nailed Annie’s spunkiness and sang her many musical numbers beautifully. Thomas Camm was also strong in the part of Frank Butler and his vocal ability matched that of Ms. Albritton perfectly.
From Opening Night Review by Nancy Sasso Janis

Get a glimpse of Annie Get Your Gun!

Saturday September 13th, 3 pm-6 pm
Fundraiser for the Clay & Wattles Theater Company at The Gary-The Olivia Theater
So In Love—with The American Musical!
Liz ParkinsonFollowing their very successful 2014 Summer Season members of the Clay & Wattles Theater Company at The Gary-The Olivia Theater are pulling out all the stops for their major annual concert/fundraiser on September 13th. Join us for an afternoon of music, theater and dance and great food and wine. The show will be a celebration of the American Musical Theater accenting books on which your favorite musicals are based. If you love Fiddler on the Roof, don't miss Mother Dolores Hart who will doing a reading from the book Tevye's Daughters. Hear your favorite songs from shows such as Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, Fiddler On The Roof, Oklahoma, Carousel, Annie Get Your Gun and more! Among the singers will be mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock, Broadway veteran Jerold Goldstein, baritone Thomas Camm and soprano Katie Keough. The show will also feature Tony Award Winner Scott Wise and Tony Nominee, dancer Elizabeth Parkinson who won an Astaire Award for the Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp musical, Movin’ Out.

Entertainment will be followed by a reception with wine, artisanal cheese and chocolates, and a meet and greet with the performers.

Admission $40 per person

For more information and to purchase tickets visit the Clay & Wattles Theater Company website.
Tickets are also available at the box office in front of the theater 1 hour before the show.