Gonzales Rotary welcomes owners of Center Stage

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Owners of Center Stage Performing Arts Academy, Linda and Larry Schexnaydre, are pictured with Gonzales Rotarian, Rae Milano, and Gonzales Rotary President, Tim Pujol. The Schexnaydre’s were the guest speakers at the Gonzales Rotary Club’s meeting on September 16.

Who in Ascension Parish is not familiar with Center Stage Performing Arts Academy?  The venerable school has been in existence since 2001, and over that time, many of its young and talented students have gone on to be recognized regionally and nationally. The academy itself was selected as the best performance art school and the best dance school at an international competition held in Orlando in July.  This, according to co-owner, Larry Schexnaydre, is the first time that one school earned both honors in the same year.

Schexnaydre and his wife and co-owner of the academy, Linda, were the guests of the Gonzales Rotary Club at its September 16th meeting.  While Schexnaydre certainly wanted to let everyone know of the Academy’s successes, what he really came to talk about was Center Stage’s philosophy- three simple but very powerful words – “burn your candles.”

The significance of the philosophy was explained by Schexnaydre in a story that he told. On a particularly rough day of rehearsal for the 1995 production of Foot Loose, when the teenage cast was out of control and behaving disrespectfully to Linda, he was ready to read the kids the riot act.  But, then it occurred to him to relay the story of a beloved aunt of his who had recently died of Leukemia.  Prior to her death and ravaged by the disease and treatments of chemotherapy she gave Schexnaydre some advice.  She said she had collected candles her whole life- all kinds of candles.  Skinny ones, tall ones, ones shaped like birthday cakes, and scented ones.  And, ‘what do I have to show for it?’ she asked him.  ‘A closetful of [sic] candles!  Burn your candles,’ she advised. 

The message was neither lost on Schexnaydre nor on the young cast to which his story was relayed.  The sage wisdom of a beloved aunt became the organization’s philosophy and the production of Foot Loose was a huge success.