A Whole New Casa 2

An upcoming season and exciting renovation give new reasons to visit the storied performance theater.

For almost 60 years, Casa Mañana has brought Broadway shows and artistic excellence to the people of Fort Worth. Over the decades, the arts organization housed within the iconic aluminum-domed theater has grown to become the largest group of its kind in Tarrant County. Renovations in 2003 served as the capstone of a decade-long fundraising project, and elevated the homegrown endeavor into a state-of-the-art performance venue that welcomes the best in live theater and musicals.

If you’ve lived in Fort Worth for any amount of time, chances are you’ve attended a performance at Casa Mañana. If you grew up here, or have children, you’re almost certain to have familiarity with the group’s rich selection of children’s programs and events. This year, another expansion will bring additional space to the august venue. To learn more about this expansion, along with other developments at Casa Mañana, we talked to the theater’s marketing director, Lindsey Rushen.

What makes Casa Mañana unique, and what singular role does it fill in the community?

Lindsey: What makes Casa unique compared to other theaters in the area is that we are the only place in Tarrant County that produces professional children’s theater. We self-produce 11 shows a year, and handle everything from hiring designers to hiring the cast, managing auditions, and hiring directors and choreographers. We have our own shop that builds sets, costumes, and props, and have in-house lighting, sound, and costume designers. This makes us unique in that we are a regional theater that can produce all of that.

We also have a great deal of history, since we’ve been in our current building since 1958. In addition to the children’s theater, we do Broadway shows, educational and outreach programs, and have an attached theater school. We strive to hire local actors, and cultivate the talent here in Dallas-Fort Worth.

What goes into program selection, and what sorts of shows are most popular?

Lindsey: Because we are a regional theater, there are licensing houses that dictate what shows we can get. It depends what’s on Broadway, or what’s currently on tour. If Dallas Theater Center is doing a show, for example, we can’t do that one. Once we see what’s available, we look at what our audience likes and what they want to see.

We also want to give new things that people haven’t seen. For example, we did the Oswald show a few years ago as the regional premier. It is quite a process to come up with the shows, and the same thing happens with the children’s theater. We want to expose people to things they wouldn’t normally see; but we also know our patrons and audience, and try to cater to their tastes.

What can you tell me about the upcoming season?

Lindsey: In our upcoming season, for our Broadway series, we have an opening with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat September 9-17. We also have Evita, which we haven’t done in awhile, on November 4-12. In March of 2018, we will have Jekyll & Hyde, and we’re going to wrap up June of 2018 with Mamma Mia!, which we finally got the rights for.

When you subscribe and buy season tickets, we also include our apprentice program performances. These are elite performers aged 14 to 19, students who audition from all over the area, and the idea is to give them the experience they would get from a professional production. We bring in Broadway music directors, directors, and choreographers to work with the students. That show is in August, and will be Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

You’re going through an expansion. What does that entail?

Lindey: Our current administrative offices are in the original lobby to the theater, and our executive producer has his office inside the old box office. We are going to build new admin offices right next to the current building, and will turn the old lobby into a cabaret theater for all sorts of acts. We’ll bring in singers, and some small combo bands, and even plan to have some small theater shows.

The cabaret theater will seat 60 to 70 people, and will have a bar, tables and booths. The shows will be programmed around what we’re doing in the main theater, and would generally take place at 9pm or 10pm. We hope to have this new renovation ready either for this fall or the spring of 2018.

To learn more about Casa’s offerings and upcoming schedule, visit www.casamanana.org.