by Matt Wilkins
It’s been over a decade now since my friend invited me over to his home to watch the movie How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying and instantly I fell in love. The characters, music and story arc were wonderful. Thus began my crusade to get the show performed on stage at the Strauss Theater.
Year after year I approached Directors, General Managers, Board Members and even Presidents with the request for How to Succeed and each time I got nowhere.
2 years ago I joined the Board and had the honor of serving on the Production committee, the first show I recommended? You guessed it. How to Succeed. You know how this story ended and the show was scheduled for our 2019-2020 season.
When auditions came up, I was content to get any role. The show has such a strong set of characters and I would’ve been happy to be cast as anyone. I was blessed to receive my first starring role ever in a show playing Pierpont Finch. A young man looking to climb his way up the corporate ladder!
Practices started in early January and as each week passed my anticipation grew. My co-stars, supporting cast and ensemble are some of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Through the last few months they worked tirelessly to put on the greatest show of the season….then along came COVID-19.
The State shut down and we’ve been on stand-by ever since. A few days shy of our premiere. Truth be told, if the show had started a week early there’s a good chance we would’ve been able to complete our run the weekend before the virus was in full effect.
But now we wait.
Wait for the State to give us the greenlight so we can pick up where we left off and continue working on this great show. When will that be? No one knows. But as we slowly move forward with re-opening the State that time is coming closer each day.
What have I been up to in the meantime? I practice.
3 times out of the week I rehearse my lines and songs from the play. I do it so much now that my wife is tired of her husband’s one man performance, yet my 12 month old twin girls clap for their poor insane Daddy, so at least I have their support.
I love this show and I know you will too. It’s been 13 long years in making to get this far…and with a show this good, I can wait few more weeks. I hope you can too.
See you soon!
It’s been almost two months now since the opening of Strauss Theatre Center’s production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying was delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak. After weeks of hard work, the cast and crew were only a week away from opening when we all realized we would have to postpone the show. Since then, social distancing restrictions have prevented them from gathering for rehearsals, but they’ve still been hard at work rehearsing on their own while we wait for restrictions to be lifted. We decided to ask some of our cast members what they’ve been doing to prepare for the eventual opening of our show while on lockdown. Here’s what they had to say:
“Bud has been relaxing by the pool at the country club, yelling at the wait staff and not tipping. Benjamin has been in a depressive spiral sprinkled with panic attacks and the occasional manic episode.” -Ben McQuillin (“Bud Frump”)
“I’ve been working hard on my Gatch ‘stache. I’ve also been running line my lines in my head. I want to make sure I remember them and continue to work on my accent.” -Scott Asa Stone (“Mr. Gatch”)
“I’m already ready for How To Succeed! What I HAVE been doing, to appease the theater nerd demon that dwells within, is teaching myself the tap dance from 42nd Street. I’ve also been working very hard trying to learn ALL the lyrics to Hamilton (poor Scott Asa Stone haha). So if we want to have Hedy LaRue rap about ‘the ten-dollar, founding father without a father’ and then break into a show stopping tap number then I guess you could say I’ve been spending my quarantine getting ready for H2$. Also, I’ve been working, because I’m essential yo.” -Moira O’Connor (“Hedy LaRue”)
“To keep everything fresh in my mind, I’ve been mentally going through my lines, acting out the scenes in my head while going about my day. It has led to a couple of awkward occasions of me breaking out in singing ‘A Secretary is Not a Toy’ at random while at work, but my coworkers don’t seem to mind. Although, some of them do seem to be socially distancing themselves from me by a lot more than six feet lately.” -Glenn Williams (“Bert Bratt”)
“I’ve been singing the entire track in front of the mirror while styling my hair. So far my best song is Paris Original.” -Blane Evans (“Mr. Tackaberry”)
“I’ve binged a few episodes of ‘The Office’ to hone my pompous ignorance. I’ve also broken out the crochet hooks to keep calm. My songs run through my head pretty much on a constant loop, but line refreshers are the next step for me.” -Mickey Cannon (“J.B. Biggley”)
So there you have it! Our cast looks forward to bringing you How To Succeed whenever this pesky pandemic starts dying down. We’ll keep monitoring the situation and let you know as soon as the new show dates have been determined. Stay tuned!
Hello Patrons of the Strauss! My name’s Matt Wilkins and I play Finch in the upcoming (yet delayed) show “How to Succeed” I thought since we’re all hunkered down due to COVID-19, I’d share a few tips with you I learned from my book!
Be kind. Just because we have to practice social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t give a smile and say “hello”. Let’s keep the South’s well known hospitality alive during this time and treat everyone with respect and kindness.
Don’t fret. We’re Louisiana, home of the floods, hurricanes and Saints football. Which means, we’ve suffered much worse in the past than this virus. We’ll get through this and laugh about it over a basket of crawfish afterwards.
Share. Ever wanted to be center stage in the spotlight at Strauss? You can! Donate to the Food Bank. They need anything you can spare. I promise afterwards you’ll know what it feels like to be star.
Pray. For the sick, for the stressed and for peace of mind. It important not to forget we’re not the only ones going through this. Outside our state and outside our country, millions are dealing with the same issues as us. Pray for them all. And finally…
Tell everyone to come see “How to Succeed” once life gets back to normal. I’ll be there to greet you at the door afterwards for a elbow tag, fist bump, handshake or a hug. Your choice. See you by the red curtain soon!
FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS and Strauss Theatre Center Staff:
The Governor of Louisiana has issued an order that limits the gathering of 250 or more people as a result of the increase in the number of cases of the COVID-19 virus.
With this in mind, Strauss Theatre Center will postpone our production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” until such time that it is safe for us to have a show.
Please hold on to your tickets as we work to bring our productions back to the Main Stage as soon as we are able.
We want to thank our community for their understanding during this time.
We encourage everyone to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses. If you need more information, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control’s website at cdc.gov.
We will continue to provide updates as more information is available.
The Strauss Board of Directors and Staff
FROM THE BOX OFFICE:
If you would like to purchase tickets for any of our upcoming shows, click this link. Although How To Succeed has been postponed, it has not been canceled. You will be notified when the new show dates are released and all tickets will be honored. If you need to speak to me in the Box Office, don’t hesitate to call me at 318-323-6681 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be checking messages often so if you require a call back, I will be sure to do so.
Thank you for your understanding and patience. We are navigating new waters with all of this and trying to do our best.
Box Office/Office Manager
Ken Bryan has recently celebrated 25 years of service with Poly Processing. He also serves as worship leader at First Baptist Church in Calhoun. Ken has appeared on stage at Strauss in My Fair Lady, and Christmas on the River. Ken enjoys working outside on Saturdays, ending the day gathered around the fire pit with family and friends.
Come see Ken as Mr. Ovington in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at Strauss Theatre Center! Call 318-323-6681 or go to StraussTC.com to buy your tickets today!
Adrienne LaFrance-Wells is Downtown Manager for the City of West Monroe. A graduate of ULM, she is a familiar face in the Twin Cities, having previously worked as Director of the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum, and with the City of Monroe, where she helped launch the first two seasons of the Downtown River Market. Adrienne and her husband Vernon are both active community volunteers and have long had an appreciation for the arts. Being a member of the ensemble in “How to Succeed” has a special meaning for Adrienne, since her mother, Kay was Rosemary in the 1966 production at Strauss. “I’ve been hearing ‘I Believe in You’ since I was a babe in arms!” She currently serves on the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council Executive Board, as well as the Ouachita Live community concert series committee. She has served on the Monroe Symphony Orchestra Board of Governors, KEDM Public Radio’s Community Advisory Board, Monroe’s Downtown River Jam committee, and the Northeast Louisiana Ad Club. Adrienne is looking forward to her first appearance on the Strauss Theatre stage since performing with the Strauss Youth Ensemble several years ago.
Come see Adrienne in the talented ensemble for How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at Strauss Theatre Center! Call 318-323-6681 or go to StraussTC.com to buy your tickets today!
Blane Evans has been involved with community theatre for the past 3 years and is currently a student at Strauss Youth Academy for the Arts. Being apart of over 10 productions, some of his most iconic role are Edgar Allen Poe in Poe’s Dreams of Madness, Hamlet in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and Mr. Dussel in The Diary of Anne Frank. He is dedicated to furthering his experience in this field and telling as many stories as he can.
Come see Blane as Mr. Tackaberry in How To Succeed In Business Without Even Trying at Strauss Theatre Center! Call 318-323-6681 or go to StraussTC.com to buy your tickets today!
Troy “The Mailman” Wold has actually been preparing for the role of Twimble for the past 25 years, as a 25 year career letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, no one in Ouachita Parish – nay, the state – is better qualified. He was most recently seen on Strauss’ stage as Sherlock Holmes in the thrilling “Baskerville”. He has been on the stage and involved in dinner theatres for a decade now and is looking forward to many more years on the boards. His lovely wife Jae is also an actress in her own right and he loves being on stage with her as well. In fact, they have played husband and wife multiple times. His EMT son, Parker, works for Acadian ambulance service and will be happy to save your life if you need him to. Speaking of saving lines, Troy is a 62 gallon blood donor with LifeShare Blood Services. His community service is giving blood, delivering mail, and performing on stage. Enjoy the show and request your autographed 8×10 headshot by mail.
Come see Troy as Mr. Twimble and Mr. Womper in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at Strauss Theatre Center! Call 318-323-6681 or go to StruassTC.com to buy your tickets today!
Laura Dooley is delighted to make her debut at Strauss Theatre. She is a retired Navy veteran who found her love of theatre after spending much time in New York City. She was invited to become a representative of the Arts in the Armed Forces non profit based in Brooklyn, New York. Which brings arts programs to active duty service members, veterans, and their families around the world free of charge. She attended culinary school when she left the Navy and has traveled extensively around the world learning how to surf, cook, and order wine in a different language. When she’s not saving the world she’s spending time with her family, playing Fortnite with her son, Luca, watching horror movies with her daughter, Maisie, or sitting courtside at a ULM basketball game where her husband, Todd, works as a deputy athletic director.
Come see Laura as Ms. Krumholtz in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at Strauss Theatre Center! Call 318-323-6681 or go to StraussTC.com to buy your tickets today!
Matt Wilkins is a Velvet belt in chicken Foo. His cheer squad includes twin girls and a choreographer for a wife. He’s never been a lead in a musical and is thankful for such a talented cast, crew and director or his stage goose would be cooked. Truthfully, Matt watched the movie “How to Succeed” 13 years ago and was beguiled with the role of Finch. While this is in fact his first leading role, it is one he came prepared to play. Matt is a current board member at STC and chairman of our dinner theatre committee. He is a wonderful artist, director, playwright, and Glenn Williams’s biggest fan.
Come see Matt as J. Pierrepont Finch in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at Strauss Theatre Center! Call 318-323-6681 or go to StraussTC.com to buy your tickets today!