Be The Change: Bob Maness: Passing the Torch


Bob Maness, owner and director of California Regional Theater (CRT) in Chico, knows that kids are our future. “Bob is very innovative and involved in passing the torch to the next generation. He believes in our kids,” says Christopher Burkhardt, set designer for CRT and theater manager for Associated Students at Bell Memorial Union, CSU Chi co.

Bob started CRT in 2011 after having been in theater for 30 years. He was born in the Chico area and raised in East Los Angeles. About the time he entered high school, the East Los Angeles School District brought in theater arts professionals to work with their students, giving them an opportunity to achieve in dramatic arts like students in more affluent districts. He entered the drama program and received four years of training. “I loved it,” he recalls.

At age 17, while still in high school, Bob directed his first full play. The joy he received from the experience led him to directing in San Francisco and Chico theaters. Having grown up with a strong work ethic, he decided to look for a day job while continuing his directing. He worked at Mervyns, and by the time he was 19, had become an area manager. He was recruited by Toys R Us as a store manager, then by Gottschalks for the same position. By the time he was 22, he was working for Miller’s Outpost and managing 13 stores. Bob returned to Chico in the late 1990s. 

Bob says that all his learning is experiential. Not having continued with higher education after high school, he relied on his ability to grasp information quickly and well, to observe others who were successful, and to practice what he saw. This has resulted in a rich and fulfilling life. “I’m so thankful to have had the experiences I’ve had,” he says. “I learn to be better by watching people, learning from them, and by letting them know how great they are.”

Letting people know how great they are is how Bob works with everyone. He believes that every business needs to serve community and needs to have life and strength. He achieves that in his work by putting people above outcome. “I have to put people above project,” he says. “If people feel good, they make the project work.” He feels that if the director of a project walks the path of integrity, the outcome takes care of itself. “I love working with my staff because it is inspiring,” he relates. “And we’re always pouring into the community with quality.”

Photos by Tracey Hedge, Firefly Mobile Studios,

Photos by Tracey Hedge, Firefly Mobile Studios,

Bob feels an element of inspiration when he comes onto a set and sees everyone working together. “My heart gets full,” he says. “Everyone is doing something greater than themselves.”

While he seeks for the highest of quality in his productions at CRT and other life endeavors, Bob says that he relishes failures because they make him stronger and teach him what he needs to know. “I want to be on the second wave,” he reveals. “I want to see what people are doing, both right and wrong, and then how they create something that is a success.”

Part of creating success is by supporting those involved in a project. Mindy Foutz, operations manager of CRT, shares that “Bob is very good at seeing the potential in people. He helps them grow from their strengths and weaknesses.”

Bob and his wife Christine have six children. “To do what I do, I have to have the support of my family,” he says. “And every time I turn around, one of them is there to fill in the gaps. They do everything from acting, to taking tickets, to helping backstage.” The family travels, takes excursions to Bidwell Park, and relaxes at home. Bob enjoys simply relaxing at home because nearly every night he’s in the theater or at an event.

Living a positive and love-filled life is Bob’s intention. “I care,” he says. “Caring is the courageous act of self-denial. It’s to release everything that is important to you and embrace everything that is important to others. It’s part of the beautiful circle of life.” He uses focused intention about what he brings into his life so that his heart is filled with what is good and positive, and what pours out is also good and positive.

Bob Mannes and California Regional Theater can be reached at (1-800) 722-4522. 

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Carolyn Warnemuende
About Carolyn Warnemuende

Author Carolyn Warnemuende has two daughters and five grandchildren, and lives with her husband in Redding. She writes parenting and educational articles, sponsors a school in Uganda, and visits Africa twice a year. She receives great joy in taking daily care of her four-year-old granddaughter who was adopted from Ethiopia.

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