Welcome to the Strauss Theatre Center!
Membership Drive now underway.
Join TODAY and save! Call the Box Office at
318.323.6681 for details.
Strauss Youth Academy for the Arts offers the very first comprehensive programming in the arts for youth in Northeast Louisiana. They are based at the Strauss Youth Center, 1300 1/2 Lamy Lane. For information on the
Strauss Youth Academy for the Arts,
please call 318-812-SYAA (7922)
or visit their website at
81 Years of “The Show Must Go On”
captured the fancy of Twin City residents as early as 1929 when a
drama club was formed and Shakespeare was read at meetings. In 1932, the
group met in the Hotel Monroe and wrote a charter. Dues were $1 per
year, and Little Theatre of Monroe, Inc. was officially born! Over
the next 30 years, these theatre enthusiasts were gypsies, finding
performance spaces wherever they could. The staunch group appeared at
the South Grand Street Theatre (Valetti’s Motion Picture House),
Ouachita Parish Junior College (today ULM), Central Grammar School,
Ouachita High School, Neville High School, Georgia Tucker Elementary,
Rainbow Inn, and several other locations, finally landing a
semi-permanent home in 1949 in a barracks at Selman Field. The airbase
had been closed after World War II. The City of Monroe leased it to the
theatre group for $1 per year. In 1958, far-sighted members led by
Clifford M. Strauss decided the falling-down barracks would no longer do
and, knowing that the enthusiastic community would support it, launched
a building drive. In
1959, Columbia Gas System contributed the Lamy Lane site and Ouachita
Gravel cleared and filled the land. Architect, Paul Stewart designed
the new building and Ford, Bacon, & Davis contributed the steel for
the structure. Construction was completed on April 13, 1961. Damn
Yankees opened the season and starred Life Members Dr. George Brian as
the devil and James R. “Buddy” Henry as a singing ballplayer. The
enterprising group even secured uniforms from the REAL New York Yankees.
New Theatre Thrives on Lamy Lane during the 60’s, 70’s, & 80’s
1963, Little Theatre had a new address, and the playhouse also had a
new director, Richard M. Clark. Clark directed 4 seasons. The exciting
new theatre was the first community theatre in the country to secure the
rights to produce the Broadway hit, Bye Bye Birdie
because a Monroe boy, Slade Brown, had produced it on Broadway. History
repeated itself in 1988 when Little Theatre was the first community
theatre in the country to receive the rights to produce the smash
off-Broadway hit, Steel Magnolias, because a local friend of the theatre knew the playwright, Robert Harling, who was from Natchitoches. In 1967, Camelot thrilled
audiences, and that summer a director from Winston Salem, N.C. was
hired. His name was Chris Ringham, and the next 30 years under his
leadership would see great growth and progress. With
Ringham’s arrival, the volunteer ranks began to swell. A big musical
was placed at the start of each season to stimulate the membership, and
another big musical in the spring kicked off the next season’s drive.
Performances were spread over three long weekends to preserve the
actor’s stamina and to give the audiences plenty of choices. The formula
worked, and membership numbers rose. A
new era was off and running. In 1984, Ringham’s
longtime dream of a children’s theatre branch of Little Theatre was
realized when The Young Troupe was born. All plays were under one roof,
children and volunteers were everywhere, and the organization was truly
growing by leaps and bounds. It was a very happy time, and more great
things were just around the corner.
History of Strauss Continues…the 80’s to 2013…Much Change, Much Success…
1999, through a Capital Outlay Grant, the Main Stage of the complex saw
extensive improvements and beautification with the extension of the
porch, addition of the patio, new carpet, and accessories. Now, both Main Stage and Young Troupe productions are produced by a talented staff, hundreds of volunteers, and a
large, supportive membership who have continued to be a strong artistic
force in Northeast Louisiana, serving thousands of adults and youth.
Staff faces and leadership from boards change, but the desire for
quality theatrical experiences remains as strong and constant today as
it was when that small group of enthusiastic community players wrote our
charter 81 years ago.
Programs of the Strauss Theatre Center are supported by a grant from the Louisiana State Arts Council
through the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts as administered by the
Northeast Louisiana Arts Council.