Casa Mañana has named B.J. Cleveland as the new director of theatre for youth. Cleveland will direct all Children’s Theatre productions amongst other duties, including serving as teaching artist and camp director for Casa Mañana Studios, Casa Mañana’s premiere theatre school.
“I am excited that B.J. will be joining the team at Casa Mañana,” says President and Executive Producer Wally Jones. “B.J. is a legend in the DFW area both as a performer and as a director. I have worked with him several times and look forward to his magnetic personality and professionalism being a part of Casa full time.”
Cleveland is no stranger to Casa Mañana. In his youth he studied at the then called Professional Theatre School of Casa Mañana under Sharon Benge, Debra Jung, Ken Slaughter and Johnny Simmons. After graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in radio, television and film, he returned to Casa Mañana, serving as a resident equity actor/director/educator for four years.
“It is a rare and wonderful thing to be able to come back to your roots and home base and continue to thrive artistically. I’m excited to return to where I first began my lifelong love of theater,” says Cleveland. “It is very full-circle for me. I am a product of Casa Mañana, having started there at age 6 and continued to perform and direct there throughout my career; a lot my peers and colleagues also started there. I’m ready to continue to bring the magic to students and families with a wonderful artistic staff and ignite that creative spark in young people that I felt. Casa Mañana may be “House of Tomorrow” buts it’s my house of yesterday, today AND tomorrow.”
With a career that has spanned almost four decades, it is unlikely that there is a space in the metroplex in which Cleveland has not worked. After his residency at Casa Mañana, he founded and established Theatre Arlington’s Adult and Children’s Theater School all while serving as artistic director. He stayed there for 15 years before becoming the artistic director of Texas Creative Arts Academy. As an actor, he has performed at Uptown Players, WaterTower Theatre, Stage West and Circle Theatre to name a few. His extensive list of directing credits includes the regional premiere of Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike (Uptown Players), I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Theatre Three) and Ring of Fire (WaterTower Theatre). At Casa Mañana, he most recently directed The Big Bad Musical, performed as “King Herod” in Jesus Christ Superstar and brought down the house with his An Evening with Liza and Judy in the Reid Cabaret Theatre.
Summer kicks off a very busy camp season, and Cleveland will jump right in, working alongside Director of Education Hannah Argüelles. Casa Mañana offers camps for ages 4-14 and year-round instruction for ages 3-18. For class offerings and registration, visit www.casamanana.org/studioclasses.