90th Season Celebration and Ribbon Cutting

For 90 years, generations of dedicated actors, directors and volunteers have presented the joy of live theatre in Monroe. To celebrate its 90th anniversary, Strauss Theatre Center will host a ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m. August 17 on its stage at 1300 Lamy Lane. 

Originally organized as the Community Players, the group performed The Whole Town’s Talking as its first play in July of 1932 at the Grand Street Theatre. Over the years, the little theatre performed on various stages across Ouachita Parish until Clifford Strauss gave a $50,000 match donation through the Carolyn Rose Strauss Foundation. Those funds led to construction of the current location of the theatre, which was completed in April 1961. Through multiple wars, natural disasters and a pandemic, the people of northeast Louisiana made the performing arts a priority at Strauss Theatre. It is the oldest, continuously operating community theatre in the state.

The 2021-22 season will feature five main stage productions, including Disaster!, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Nunsense, The Odd Couple: Female Version, and Company. Strauss Theatre is a nonprofit organization, and hundreds of Louisianans dedicate countless hours on stage, behind the curtain, in the orchestra pit and in the box office to create the magic of live theatre. 

All are invited to attend the ribbon cutting and to join the theatre as a member. Patrons can purchase memberships at the box office or online at strausstc.com. A special 90th anniversary membership level of $90 gives attendees tickets to three shows of their choice. Purchase a membership here.

Our 90th Season: Company

Our final show of our 90th season is Stephen Sondheim’s Company. Premiering on Broadway in 1970, this musical comedy was nominated for a record-setting 14 Tony Awards and took home six. Company features some of Sondheim’s most well-known and acclaimed songs such as “Getting Married Today,” “Being Alive,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” and its titular track “Company.”

On the night of his 35th birthday, Robert struggles to think of a wish to make as he blows out his birthday candles. The lone bachelor, surrounded by “those good and crazy people” — his married friends — Robert is uncertain whether he should simply be happy with his lot or whether he should wish for his own romantic partner. Over a series of dinner parties, first dates, and thoughtful conversations, Robert attempts to understand the pros and cons of marriage from his diverse and frequently hilarious friends and begins to make sense of his own persistent bachelorhood.

In addition to Robert (or Bobby, Bubbi, darling, or baby depending on who you ask), audiences are treated to a cast of lovable characters. Married couple Sarah and Harry are a foodie and alcoholic who have each recently given up their vices. Former Ivy Leaguer Peter and gracious Southern belle Susan are the picture-perfect couple…and getting a divorce. Uptight Jenny and chic David are high on Robert’s list of friends. Paul and his neurotic fiancé Amy bring an entertaining dynamic when their wedding day arrives. Cynical Joanne and her third husband Larry provide Robert with an older perspective. Finally, Robert’s trio of girlfriends, the naïve April, hip Marta, and small-town Kathy, round out the cast.

The original 1970 production starred Broadway veterans including Larry Kert, Elaine Stritch, and Donna McKechnie. The musical returned to Broadway in the Boyd Gaines-led revival in 1995 and again in 2006 starring Raúl Esparza. The show found a new audience after the 2011 New York Philharmonic Concert. This cast featured stars of stage and screen like Neil Patrick Harris, Marth Plimpton, Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, Christina Hendricks, Anika Noni Rose, and Patti LuPone. LuPone is set to reprise the role of Joanne in the 2022 revival starring Katrina Lenk as a gender-swapped Bobbie.

Company is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.mtishows.com

Join our new season today and SAVE!  Secure your tickets for our 90th season of continuous live theatre and take advantage of our Early Bird prices.  Click HERE to order online or call our box office at 318-323-6681.

2021 Christopher Award Winners

Last night, Strauss Theatre Center welcomed volunteers and community members to celebrate the 2021 Christopher Awards! The night was filled with music, dancing, and a special look into next season’s shows.

16 awards were presented to the casts and crews of shows from our 88th and 89th seasons.  Check out the winners below!

  • Best Featured Actress in a Play or Musical:  Chrissy Gray, Godspell
  • Best Featured Actor in a Play:  Ken Bryan, A Christmas Carol
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Play:  Cassey Bernstein, Baskerville
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Play:  Benjamin McQuillin, Whose Wives Are They Anyway?
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Musical:  Rachal Graham, Million Dollar Quartet
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Musical:  William McCandlish, Godspell
  • Best Female Debut:  Lisa Claire Milan, Little Women
  • Best Male Debut:  Stephen Paul Smith, Million Dollar Quartet
  • Best Actress in a Play:  Wendy Wilson Ryland, Whose Wives Are They Anyway?
  • Best Actor in a Play:  Troy Wold, Baskerville
  • Best Actor in a Musical:  Michael Matherne, Godspell
  • Best Set Design:  Keith Beard & Clint Downing, Whose Wives Are They Anyway?
  • Best Costume Design:  Gayle Frick, Little Women
  • Volunteer of the Year:  Taylor Michiels
  • Best Director:  Bob Chambless & Terri Larson Cunningham, Godspell
  • Best Production:  Million Dollar Quartet

Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you to all of the nominees and volunteers for your hard work.  We can’t wait to see you all back for our 90th season!

Time to Celebrate!

Tomorrow night we celebrate the hard-working volunteers who made our 88th and 89th seasons possible with our (usually) annual Christopher Awards!

Volunteers, patrons, and members of the community are invited to join in on the fun as we honor the actors and creatives who brought eight fantastic shows to life on the Strauss mainstage, in Kiroli Park, and virtually amidst live audience restrictions. We are very excited to welcome everyone back as we close one chapter and kick off our 90th chapter!

Who will take home a coveted Christopher Award?  Find out Saturday, June 26th at 7PM.  Cocktail attire is preferred.

Our 90th Season: The Odd Couple

Our fourth show of the season is Neil Simon’s gender-swapped revision of his classic comedy The Odd Couple.  Opening on Broadway in 1985, this version strikes an excellent balance of a familiar story and a fresh take.

The Odd Couple sees the lead characters transformed into Olive Madison and Florence Unger. Olive and their group of girlfriends are enjoying their weekly Trivial Pursuit night in Olive’s messy and ill-equipped apartment. As the game continues, Florence arrives, fresh from being dumped by her husband. Fearful that the neurotic Florence might attempt suicide, Olive invites her to move in as her roommate. However, Olive and Florence have VERY different personalities. Where Olive is messy, untidy, and unconcerned about the state of her apartment, Florence is obsessively clean, tidy, and obsessed with hygiene. Olive’s easy-going outlook on life soon clashes with Florence’s highly-strung neurotic tendencies, testing their friendship to the limit. When Olive organizes a double-date with the Costazuela brothers, their differences come to a head and sparks fly.

Fans of the original play will notice and appreciate the changes Neil Simon made for this version. Poker was traded for Trivial Pursuit, the Pigeon sisters became the Costazuela brothers, and the game night group of friends transform from Murray, Speed, Vinnie, and Roy to Mickey, Sylvie, Vera, and Renee.

The Female Odd Couple‘s Broadway cast starred Sally Struthers and Rita Moreno as the titular odd couple, Florence and Olive. Lewis J. Stadlen and Tony Shalhoub (in his Broadway debut) portrayed the Costazuela brothers.

The Odd Couple has been adapted into a film, several television sitcoms, and even a cartoon!

The Odd Couple is presented through special arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. www.concordtheatricals.com

Join our new season today and SAVE!  Secure your tickets for our 90th season of continuous live theatre and take advantage of our Early Bird prices.  Click HERE to order online or call our box office at 318-323-6681.

Our 90th Season: Nunsense

Our third show of the season is the musical comedy Nunsense with music, book, and lyrics by Dan Goggin.  Opening off-Broadway in 1985, Nunsense became the second-longest-running Off-Broadway show in history.

Nunsense follows 5 of the 19 surviving Little Sisters of Hoboken, a one-time missionary order that ran a leper colony on an island south of France, who discover that their cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, accidentally killed the other fifty-two residents of the convent with her tainted vichyssoise while they were off playing bingo with a group of Maryknolls. Upon discovering the disaster, Mother Superior had a vision in which she was told to start a greeting card company to raise funds for the burials. The greeting cards were an enormous success and, thinking there was plenty of money, the Reverend Mother bought a VCR and camcorder for the convent, leaving her with no money in the kitty to pay for the last four burials. With the deceased nuns on ice in the deep freeze, they decide to stage a variety show in the Mount Saint Helen’s School auditorium to raise the necessary amount. Participating in the project are Mother Superior Mary Regina, a former circus performer who can not resist the spotlight; her competitive but dignified rival, second-in-command Sister Mary Hubert; Sister Robert Anne, a streetwise nun from Brooklyn; Sister Mary Leo, a novice who is determined to be the world’s first ballerina nun; and wacky, childlike Sister Mary Amnesia, who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head. The entertainment that they present includes solo star turns, madcap dance routines, and an audience quiz.

More than 25,000 women have played in Nunsense productions worldwide, including Edie Adams, Maxine Audley, Kaye Ballard, Honor Blackman, Pat Carroll, Peggy Cass, Phyllis Diller, Sally Struthers, Louise Gold, Maggie Fitzhugh and JoAnne Worley.

The play and its first sequel were adapted for television productions with Rue McClanahan as the Mother Superior.

NUNSENSE is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals. www.concordtheatricals.com

Join our new season today and SAVE!  Secure your tickets for our 90th season of continuous live theatre and take advantage of our Early Bird prices.  Click HERE to order online or call our box office at 318-323-6681.

Our 90th Season: The Man Who Came to Dinner

Our second show of the season is the classic comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman.  Making its Broadway premiere in 1939, this play has continued to entertain audiences for decades.

The Man Who Came to Dinner centers around the famously outlandish New York City radio wit Sheridan Whiteside (‘Sherry’ to his friends). Upon arrival to the home of Ernest W. Stanley and his family in Mesalia, Ohio, Sherry slips on a patch of ice outside the Stanleys’ front door and injures his hip. Confined to the Stanleys’ home for a month, Whiteside proceeds to wreak havoc on the lives of his hosts. A rotating cast of colorful characters find themselves in Sherry’s presence including Dr. Bradley, the absent-minded town physician, the eccentric Professor Metz and his glass-encased cockroach colony, and the glamorous and loose-living actress, Lorraine Sheldon. Sherry’s attempt to thwart a love triangle causes a series of additional schemes that eventually leads to someone getting trapped in an Egyptian mummy case.

After the success of the original Broadway run starring Monty Woolley, The Man Who Came to Dinner saw Broadway revivals in 1980 and 2000. The Ellis Rabb-led 1980 production garnered Drama Desk Award nominations for Roderick Cook and Carrie Nye, and the Nathan Lane-starring 2000 revival saw both a Drama Desk Award nomination for Lewis J. Stadlen and a Tony Award nomination for Jean Smart.

The play also found success through its film adaptation starring Woolley, Bette Davis, and Ann Sheridan in 1942. Woolley also starred in the first radio adaptation in 1942.

The Man Who Came to Dinner is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.

Join our new season today and SAVE!  Secure your tickets for our 90th season of continuous live theatre and take advantage of our Early Bird prices.  Click HERE to order online or call our box office at 318-323-6681.

Our 90th Season: Disaster!

We’re excited to kick off our 90th season with the jukebox musical comedy Disaster! by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick.  Earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos and the songs of the ’70s take center stage in this comedic homage to 1970s disaster films.

Disaster! takes place in 1979 Manhattan during opening night of the Barracuda, the first floating casino and discothèque in New York. The characters gather to gamble and dance, unaware of impending natural disasters, and the building’s lack of safety measures compounds these catastrophes. Notably, the casino’s structure was built on a fault line, which causes earthquakes throughout the show. The plot follows several characters’ dynamics and interactions throughout the opening night as they deal with various plot elements reminiscent of 1970s disaster cult films such as The Poseidon Adventure and Airport 1975.

The original Broadway production starred several Broadway veterans including Tony Award-winners Faith Prince (Guys and Dolls) and Roger Bart (You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown) as well as Tony award-nominees Adam Pascal (Rent), Kerry Butler (Xanadu), and Kevin Chamberlin (Dirty Blonde, Seussical, The Addams Family). Jennifer Simard was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as the gambling-addicted nun, Sister Mary Downy.

We guarantee this show will make you laugh and tap your toes. You’ll hear familiar hits like “Hot Stuff,” “Still the One,” “I Am Woman,” “Knock on Wood,” “25 or 6 to 4,” “Sky High,” and, of course, “I Will Survive.”  After all, what’s one more disaster to cap off the past year and a half?

Disaster! is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).
All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.mtishows.com

Join our new season today and SAVE!  Secure your tickets for our 90th season of continuous live theatre and take advantage of our Early Bird prices.  Click HERE to order online or call our box office at 318-323-6681.

Casting Call: Disaster!

Calling all singers, dancers, and disco enthusiasts!
Auditions for our first show of the season, Disaster!, are set for July 10th and 11th.

Anyone interested in auditioning is asked to prepare 16 bars of either a song from the show or a song from the 70’s-80’s.  Please bring sheet music for the accompanist.
A short piece of choreography will be taught at the audition.  We want to see you having fun, so don’t sweat it!  Bring some comfy clothes and shoes, water, and a great attitude.
Finally, we will be doing cold reads from the script, so you will not need to prepare a monologue.

Music and dance auditions will take place on Saturday the 10th from 10am-12pm, and cold reads will take place on Sunday the 11th at 6pm.  If you are unable to make a date and want to audition, please call the box office and talk to Donna.  You may submit a self-taped audition with singing, dancing, and a monologue.

For character descriptions, songs, and more information, head to our Auditions page!  To learn more about Disaster!, click here.

The 2021 Christopher Awards

After a tough year, it’s time to celebrate the hard work and talents of our amazing volunteers!  We’re happy to announce and invite you to the 2021 Christopher Awards honoring both the 88th and 89th seasons.  We had 8 stellar productions featuring countless actors, singers, dancers, musicians, designers, painters, builders, directors, backstage crew, and house staff all volunteering their time to bring continuous live theatre to Monroe.  Through the power of technology and some incredible luck with the weather, we were able to provide shows virtually and even produce an outdoor musical.

From our 88th season, we have GodspellLittle Women, and Baskerville.  From our 89th season, we have BellesMillion Dollar Quartet, Tuna Does Vegas, A Christmas Carol, and Whose Wives Are They Anyway?.

Make plans to attend on Saturday, June 26th at 7pm.  Members can vote online this year.  Click here for more info.