Greek Descendants in Monroe – Alex George

As Strauss prepares for our debut of Mamma Mia! this week, we focus on the impact of Greek descendants in the Twin Cities.  Many found their way to Northeast Louisiana and have made a dramatic mark on our community.  In our search of Greek Influence in Monroe, we had the privilege of chatting with Alex George.

In 1965, Alex George launched the very first McDonalds in North Louisiana located on 18th street in Monroe.  At that time, there were only 1000 McDonalds restaurants in the US.  Our Monroe location was so successful, the founder of McDonalds, Ray Kroc, met face-to-face with Alex George to find out the “secret to his success.”  Instilling Greek family values and know-how passed on to him from his Greek heritage, Mr George grew one McDonalds store into 12 McDonalds locations and was instrumental in the establishment of the Ronald McDonald house here in Monroe.

Alex George and his son, Dan

Alex George is the son of  John Nick George (Greek name Georgiadis) who immigrated to the states from the Thesalaniki mountain area of Greece.  His father initially worked in Tacoma, WA as a logger but eventually found his way to Monroe after employment in the restaurant business of Greenville and Jackson MS.  It was the beautiful Ouachita river and bayous of our area that drew the elder George to Monroe to plant roots and raise a family.  

(Alex and his son Dan at Strauss Theatre.)

 Today Alex George continues to make a difference in our community through QuesTECH Learning, an educational tutorial school specializing in serving transitional learners seeking to reach their full potential.  Because of Alex George’s “idea” of investing in our community, QuesTECH has enjoyed 20 years of success assisting the learners of our area to achieve their goals. 

Mamma Mia! now adding additional performance

Tickets for Strauss Theatre’s Mamma Mia! are going fast! So much so that we must add an additional performance. With the approval from Music Theatre International, we have added a Saturday matinee performance – May 4th at 2pm. We are grateful for the talents of our cast and crew and their willingness to perform for this added performance.

Grab tickets while they are available! Tickets can be purchased ONLINE or through our box office at 318.323.6681.

Schylar Danford-Berry has a lifelong connection to ABBA.

Schylar Danford-Berry, who plays Sophie in our production of Mamma Mia!, is bringing to life to her lifelong connection to this show and the music of ABBA.

“This has been one of my biggest acting challenges and I have loved working with Cherrie (Sciro, the director) and this amazing talented company of people that constantly make me want to be better. I have felt a strong connection to Sophie since the first time I saw Mamma Mia! on Broadway more than ten years ago. ABBA is one of my mother’s favorite bands and and is something she has shared with me with many a trip singing their songs in the car. I am so humbled and honored by this opportunity.”

If you don’t have your tickets yet, get them now by clicking here! Or call the box office at 318.323.6681. This show is selling fast!

Mamma Mia! Director Cherrie Sciro

Cherrie Sciro is the Coordinator of Theatre and Professor in the School of Performing Arts at Louisiana Tech. Her most treasured directing experience here at Tech was the 1999 production of Six Women with Brain Death…, which was awarded 21 John F. Kennedy, American College Theatre Festival Awards including the Richard A. Weaver Best Production Award, the only time Louisiana Tech University has ever had this honor. 

Ms. Sciro is also known nationally for her Broadway credits which include Production Coordinator of the Tony Award-winning productions Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and Miss Saigon. As well as Broadway Stage Manager for Song and Dance, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly, an All-Star Tribute to Ethel Merman, featuring Lainie Kazan, Patti LuPone, Andrea Martin, Elaine Stritch and Bette Midler. Stepping out of the theatre, Ms. Sciro served as the Production Manager for the 1999 Hard Rock Rockfest in Atlanta, GA, and the Stage Manager for the 2001 New Year’s Eve in Times Square in New York City. She was also the Road Manager for Patti LuPone for eight years and Dixie Carter for two years.

Strauss Theatre Center considers itself very fortunate to have Cherrie Sciro as director of its closing show of the 2018-19 season MAMMA MIA!  She is a theatre professional with credits to impress even the most jaded theatregoer– from working with Cameron Mackintosh with PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and LES MIS to being production stage manager of the closing ceremonies of the Olympics in Barcelona.  And that just scratches the surface.
Trained at Louisiana Tech, where she is currently head of the theatre program and holder of the Lallage Wall Endowed Professorship, she was first spotted by professionals when stage- managing a Tech production that was being done at the Kennedy Center as a part of an annual American College Theatre Festival.  Her first professional job was with Rowan Atkinson— yes, Mr Bean and Blackadder.
From there she went on the work with Mackintosh on Broadway,  also being involved with the transfer of LES MIS from London to Broadway. SONG AND DANCE, MISS SAIGON, and FIVE GUYS NAMED MO followed. After a time, she struck out as an independent contractor to work on a number of other shows with stars including Bette Middler, Patti LaPone, Elaine Stritch, and Dixie Carter.  And along the way came stints with the Atlanta and Barcelona Olympics.  Her directing credits include prize winning productions.
She has also stage managed several dance companies in European tours. And with all this and being in charge of Tech’s theatre program, she devotes time to community service: she is a founding member of an organization–Goodwill Lunching–that works with helping underprivileged children and promoting children’s literacy.  Last year alone that group, in cooperation with other groups, provided over 12,000 books to students in Ruston.
And with all of this, she has found time to work with Strauss in guiding the production of MAMMA MIA!  We are very grateful for her talent, hard work, and patience with community theatre.

Her International credits with Sir Cameron Mackintosh include London, England; Sydney, Australia; Paris, France. Ms. Sciro worked on Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sydmonton Festival production of Sunset Boulevard which starred Patti LuPone.  Her work on the Olympic Games took her to Barcelona, Spain where she served as the Production Manager for the Closing Ceremonies. In addition to her International Olympic work, she served as the Production Manager for the Atlanta, GA. Olympic Games. 

Her latest professional work has brought her back where it all began for her just out of college, and that is Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center. Ms. Sciro has found a new love, and that is stage managing dance! 

Scott Stone never thought he’d be a head banger, but…

At 50 years old, Scott Stone decided to try something that terrifies him, singing, dancing and acting on stage for the first time.

After much encouragement from his stage veteran girlfriend, Moira O’Connor (our Rosie in this production), he decided to give it a try and audition for Mama Mia. And much to his surprise landed one of the leading rolls has Harry, Head Banger, Bright.

Now that he has shaken off the nerves, for the most part, Scott is really excited about hitting the stage in front of a live audience.

Have we told you how much we love having new people join our Strauss family? Welcome Scott!

If you don’t have your tickets yet, get them now by clicking here! Or call the box office at 318.323.6681. This show is selling fast!

Gayle Frick on stage as “Donna” for Mamma Mia!

Gayle Hoover Frick  has the honor of playing “Donna” in Strauss Theatre’s Mamma Mia! “This is my dream role-the one her Mom said she was “made for.”” Gayle is an actress by first love, but has had the joy of directing, choreographing, decorating and costuming several productions at Strauss (and the surrounding area.) Currently she is the volunteer costumer here at STC and was also this show’s head designer!

Limited Tickets are available for Mamma Mia! You can purchase ONLINE or call our Box Office at 318.323.6681.

The Music of ABBA

MAMMA MIA! has a lot going for it: for starters with its feel-good, woman-powered story set to hits by ABBA, “Mamma Mia!” is the most successful “jukebox musical” in history.  Unlike most of the genre, it has a compelling story holding together the music– in this case that of the wildly popular 70’s Swedish pop/dance group ABBA. 

According to reports, ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus were not initially interested in having their work used in a Broadway musical until they finally gave into Producer Judy Craymer and Catherine Johnson, who convinced them that an original story could be woven around some of their hit songs.  And the rest is history.
That history includes a nearly 14 year run on Broadway; it is still running in London, where it premiered in 1999.  Numerous tours have taken it to nearly all parts of the world, allowing over 60 million people worldwide to fall in love with the characters, the story, and the music that make Mamma Mia! the ultimate feel-good show.  It took almost 20 years for the rights to be released to community theatres; on the day that it was made available, MTI, the licensing company, had more requests than they had ever had for new release.  Strauss was granted permission that day. 
Come see what the fuss is all about.  Call the box office at 323-6681.  You might find yourself wanting to dance in the aisle; when I saw the original Broadway production, I even found myself moving rhythmically.   
Jerry Holmes

Mamma Mia! is presented by Strauss Theatre on April 25, 26, 27, 28, May 3, 4, 2019. Purchase Tickets ONLINE or call our box office at 318.323.6681.