Sounds of song and dance ring through the halls of Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth as excitement builds for BAAY’s upcoming State Street Theatre Company production of Cabaret. The show will open on Friday, August 18 at Mount Baker Theatre’s Walton Theatre. Director Olivia Theilemann describes the process as bittersweet as Cabaret will be her final show with BAAY.

Olivia has served as BAAY’s Artistic Director and co-leader of the organization since 2021. She will be stepping down from her position in order to fully pursue her long-time goal of teaching high school drama. This decision wasn’t an easy one to make, but Olivia hopes that a new Artistic Director will be able to dedicate the time necessary for BAAY to continue to grow and serve even more youth in the community.

“My end goal since I was a kid was to be a high school drama teacher,” said Olivia. “I didn’t know if that was ever going to be a possibility for me because those jobs are so rare. I was lucky enough to have it happen.”

Olivia has mixed feelings regarding her upcoming departure at the end of August. However, she mainly shared a sense of excitement for the future of both BAAY and her own career.

“We have been through so much together at BAAY,” said Olivia. “We had to persevere through a lot of really challenging situations. I feel fortunate to have helped usher in the transition from pandemic shutdowns to now bursting at the seams with students. I am excited for BAAY’s new full-time Artistic Director to come in and have BAAY as their primary focus.”

Olivia has been with BAAY for the past seven years and, since 2022, she has also worked full-time as the Theatre Director at Blaine High School. She has truly loved watching the kids at BAAY grow throughout the years and come into their own. BAAY’s values have greatly impacted Olivia’s personal teaching philosophy. She hopes to continue to cultivate a safe and inclusive environment with an emphasis on process over product for her students at Blaine High School.

“The opportunities I have had here at BAAY helped me to realize that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life and how important theatre education is,” said Olivia. “BAAY is a place that just reminds you why theatre is magical. It is the all-encompassing artform.”

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Please join BAAY’s staff and Board of Directors in thanking Olivia for all she’s done for the organization over the years. She can be reached directly at

Come see her directorial finale, Cabaret, on August 18-20 and 25-27 at Mount Baker Theatre. Tickets and more info at