For any regional theatre (or, say, Manhattan Theatre Club) with two theatre spaces in the same building, there's a temptation to produce Alan Ayckbourn's House and Garden, two comedies that play simultaneously. Houston's Alley Theatre is giving in to the temptation, staging the unique double bill April 12-May 5, 2002. House will play the Large Stage and Garden the Neuhaus Arena Stage, with the actors negotiating the Alley backstage in between.
The rest of the season looks a bit like 2001 on Broadway and Off Broadway. Tom Stoppard's Tony-nominated The Invention of Love takes the Neuhaus Arena Stage May 24-June 23, 2002, with artistic director Gregory Boyd at the helm. The company will also produce a revival of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Boyd's directing debut for the theatre back in 1992. Cuckoo's Nest plays the Large Stage Feb. 22-March 23, 2002.
From Off-Broadway, August Wilson's first play Jitney is set for the Large Stage Jan. 11-Feb. 9, 2002. Jonathan Wilson directs.
Also in the season is a staging of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, directed by Not About Nightingales' James Black. Of Mice and Men, running Jan. 18-Feb. 17, 2002, will be the first production on the restored Neuhaus, which suffered extensive damage in the June flooding from Tropical Storm Allison.
The Alley Theatre will also produce Yasmina Reza's Art, Oct. 5-Nov. 3 on the Large Stage. Using True West-like casting, the Alley has recruited six actors to play the parts in Art — Black, Freeman, Paul Hope, Rainey, John Tyson and Todd Watie — and will rotate them around each other in the comedy. Associate artistic director of Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre Kurt Beattie will direct. As previously reported, Tony winner Elizabeth Ashley plays faded Southern belle Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie Aug. 24-Sept. 22, the season opener for Houston's Alley Theatre. Hartford Stage Company artistic director Michael Wilson (The Carpetbagger's Children) directs the production, previously produced at Hartford Stage April 5-May 12 with Andrew McCarthy (Side Man).
The traditional staging of A Christmas Carol plays Nov. 20-Dec. 30. Stephen Rayne (The Civil War) adapted and directed the Charles Dickens tale, set to star company member James Belcher (The Play About the Baby) as Scrooge.
The Alley Theatre is located at 615 Texas Avenue. For reservations, call (713) 228-8421 or (800) 259-ALLE. The Alley Theatre is on the web at http://www.alleytheatre.com.