Actor Spotlight

Nathan Lane helps keep this Dallas actor busy in local theater

Nathan Lane helps keep this Dallas actor busy in local theater

If you asked anyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth theater community who is the "glue," that person who makes every show special whether he's acting, directing, choreographing or even selling tickets, chances are they would say B.J. Cleveland.

Even if you don't know him from the local stage, Cleveland might still look familiar. Remember BJ & the Super Ones on Channel 11, or Cartoon Clubhouse with BJ & Lester on Channel 39, which ran between 1986 and 1994? He also appeared on The Facts of Life and in the film Streamers.

If you're somehow still unfamiliar with Cleveland, Uptown Players' production of The Nance would be a great introduction to this multitalented man. The Tony-nominated play about burlesque performers in the 1930s is at Kalita Humphreys Theater from June 19 through July 5.

Prior to the show's start, Cleveland took the time to fill out our survey of serious, fun and sometimes ridiculous questions.

Name: B.J. Cleveland

Role in The Nance: Chauncey Miles, "The Nance"

Previous work in the DFW area: More than 400 different shows as actor/director/choreographer since debuting onstage at age 6.

Hometown: Fort Worth

Where you currently reside: New Dallas resident!

First theater role: Hansel in Hansel and Gretel

First stage show you ever saw: Hard to remember — my mother took me to many — but I strongly remember The Wind in the Willows at Casa Manana.

Moment you decided to pursue a career in theater: As soon as I could read and had it memorized, I performed Go, Dog, Go for my grandparents.

Most challenging role you’ve played: Several, for different reasons. Of recent, Max Bialystock in The Producers — a marathon!

Special skills: Scenic painting, tap dancing, scuba diving, sky diving, Czech folk dancing. And I'm a dog whisperer!

Something you’re REALLY bad at: Saying no!

Current pop culture obsession: Whatever's trending on Facebook. I'm a 14-year-old girl. Caitlyn Jenner?

Last book you read: Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Hilarious. Even better to listen to.

Favorite movie(s): I'm a movie fanatic. I see everything. Classic fave: Singin' In The Rain. Recent fave: Love Is Strange.

Favorite musician(s): Old school: James Taylor, Billy Joel, Elton John. Recently: Meghan Trainor!

Favorite song: Show tunes!!!

Dream role: I've been fortunate to play a lot of them. Maybe Albin in La Cage Aux Folles, Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof — practically the same thing.

Favorite play(s): August: Osage County; Love! Valor! Compassion!

Favorite musical(s): Ugh! That's like Sophie's Choice. Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, The Music Man, Sunday In The Park With George.

Favorite actors/actresses: Meryl Streep, Jack Lemmon, Lucille Ball. Props to Nathan Lane — he keeps giving me roles. Right now, my current cast. I. Love. Them.

Favorite food: Brisket tacos

Must-see TV show(s): I Love Lucy — anytime it's on. Downton Abbey, RuPaul's Drag Race. How's that for eclectic?

Something most people don’t know about you: Raised in a strong Czech heritage, fundamental Baptist and former gymnast.

Place in the world you’d most like to visit: One of those beach huts out over the water in Bora Bora. My great-grandfather's birthplace is Novigrad. Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.

Pre-show warm-up: Go to the potty! And hide in a corner and run difficult lyrics/dialogue to myself.

Favorite part about your current role: I get to fall in love every night and be loved. The expanse of emotions.

Most challenging part about your current role: Stamina and the expanse of emotions. I never dreamed this role would hit me so hard emotionally as much as physically.

Most embarrassing onstage mishap: Wasn't in a show, surprisingly. I was emceeing a big event, and the PowerPoint behind me was being run from someone else's computer, and they accidentally projected porn on a 24-foot wall behind me. For the longest 20 seconds of my life. And I was onstage alone with a live mic. It's quite funny — now.

Career you’d have if you weren’t in theater: Teaching. And I do, every day.

Favorite post-show spot: It was Snookie's. RIP.

Favorite thing about Dallas-Forth Worth: My family and my theater family. There is an abundance of great theater here. Please support it!

B.J. Cleveland in The Nance from Uptown Players
B.J. Cleveland stars in Uptown Players' production of The Nance. Photo by Mike Morgan
The Nance at Uptown Players in Dallas
Linda Leonard, Cleveland, Sterling Gafford and Sherry Hopkins in The Nance. Photo by Mike Morgan
The Producers at Uptown Players in Dallas
Brian Hathaway and Cleveland in The Producers at Uptown Players. Photo by Mike Morgan
A Christmas Carol: A Radio Show
Cleveland was a one-man whirlwind in A Christmas Carol: A Radio Show for One Thirty Productions. Photo courtesy of One Thirty Productions
Shear Madness at Theatre Three in Dallas
Cleveland, Sherry Hopkins and Bradley Campbell in the long-running hit Shear Madness at Theatre Three. Photo by Jeffrey Schmidt
Uptown Players presents Pageant
Cleveland played the emcee in Uptown Players' Pageant. Photo courtesy of Uptown Players