Back in the day, as the phrase goes, this was quite the place. Much of my youth around Lakewood Theater was spent hearing stories of the stars, the parties... and the rumors. Rumors that left me wondering how many theater folk stayed up late swaping tales over a few illegal cocktails during prohibition at 4 Olive Street. The possibility of Mary Phillips & husband Humphrey Bogart having a twirl or two around the floorboards of the old dance hall. Thoughts of the students of the Skowhegan Art School making regular visits inspired by the activity and art encompassing the theater and it's guests. The whole vibe of bohemian secrets surrounding what has since been dubbed Wild Olive thrilled me.*
A little less youthful now, with many other adventures in the performing and visual arts having involved me and shaped me along my way - including my son's personal interests in Lakewood Theater - when the opportunity came to actually own land & cottages on Olive Street, with the imfamous dance hall as the center piece, my very first thought was to re-create an artist community here.
Just imagining the old dance hall alive again with music, and mini art shows. Space for personal work. Space for voice lessons, dancing, guitar. Learning the craft of set design, or sculpting, or stained glass mosaics, or watercolors... whatever folks may want to do or teach. Garden space for veggies as well as flowers. A common kitchen for Lakewood Theater actors and thier families to make and share meals before or after rehersals and shows if they wish, a hot shower, and comfortable rooms to rest in; just like the bungalos and the inn of old where traveling theater companies stayed a season at a time and made a community of it.
Thusly, my vision for Olive Street is to make it a re-created/re-awakened art & theater community.
Right now I just have so many wonderful ideas for this place, and know it will be a journey to get there. Keep up to date on how it's going by following this blog. Certainly however it shapes itself, I am fortunate to have my husband and my son supporting the vision along the way, and this is their public thank you! - Dawnella Sutton
*You must understand, my relationship with Lakewood Theater began in the days when all those actors' photos lined the walls, I thought drinking Shirley Temples made me the height of sophistication, and when Van Johnson came to perform I still couldn't believe he didn't choose to stay in Brigadoon with Gene Kelly. By the time I heard the Wild Olive stories I was rife with a bohemian vibe myself.
There is a "Wild Olive" article I will share with you as soon as I find it