Allison Dampens Alley's 'Chills': Theatre Cancels Nile

News   Allison Dampens Alley's 'Chills': Theatre Cancels Nile Flood damage from Tropical Storm Allison is still taking its toll on Houston's arts district. The Alley Theatre has announced that it will be forced to cancel the June 29-July 15 staging of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile, the first production in the company's two part "Summer Chills" series. The Woman in Black, the second summer thriller, will begin on its original opening date, July 20, but run an extra week through Aug. 12.
Jean Stapleton, Roberta Maxwell and Hallie Foote in The Carpetbagger's Children.
Jean Stapleton, Roberta Maxwell and Hallie Foote in The Carpetbagger's Children. (Photo by Photo by Jim Caldwell)

Flood damage from Tropical Storm Allison is still taking its toll on Houston's arts district. The Alley Theatre has announced that it will be forced to cancel the June 29-July 15 staging of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile, the first production in the company's two part "Summer Chills" series. The Woman in Black, the second summer thriller, will begin on its original opening date, July 20, but run an extra week through Aug. 12.

In a statement, Alley managing director Paul Tetreault said, "We realized that in order to get our building operable for staff and satisfactory for audiences, we would not be able to rebuild the elaborate Death on the Nile costumes, set pieces and props that were lost because of water damage to our facility."

The Woman in Black, playing July 20-Aug. 5, is set in a theatre, where Arthur Kipps, a middle aged solicitor, attempts to exorcise the ghosts of his past by paying an actor play them out. The actor, between conversations with Kipps in the present, becomes him in the past, reliving a long-ago journey from London to the desolate mansion of an elderly recluse in the North. There, Kipps encounters the Woman in Black, a haunt obsessed with revenge for her dead child and who has pursued him ever since. The Woman in Black has been running in London for over 13 years and just opened a production Off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre.

Patrons holding tickets to Death on the Nile have three options. They can exchange their tickets for tickets to The Woman in Black, ask for a refund or donate the value of their ticket to the Alley Theatre relief fund by mailing the unused ticket to the Alley Theatre at 615 Texas Avenue, Houston, TX 77002.

Tickets to all Summer Chills productions are $17. The Alley Theatre is located at 615 Texas Avenue. For reservations, call (713) 228-8421. Currently, the Alley Theatre is closed to the public with only limited phone and electricity available in the building. Updated information on the Alley's progress and on the Alley Theatre Relief Fund is available on the web at http://www.alleytheatre.org. *

Tropical Storm Allison arrived in Houston June 9 and 10, leaving three feet of rain in some places and $2 billion dollars worth of damage. The Houston Chronicle reports (June 14) that some 24,000 homes have been damaged, as well as 526 commercial buildings and several government and performing arts centers.

Houston's downtown theatre and arts district includes the touring house Jones Hall, part of the Wortham Theatre Center, and the Tony Award winning residential theatre company, the Alley Theatre. Both experienced extensive flooding damage in their basement levels due to Houston's tunnel system, constructed for the convenience and comfort of the city's pedestrians.

Unfortunately for the Alley, not only are their costume, scene and props departments located below ground, but so is the company's second space, the Neuhaus Arena Stage. Currently home to the world premiere of Horton Foote's The Carpetbagger's Children, the 296-seat theatre was rendered unusable, forcing the Alley to relocate the production to Stages Repertory Theatre June 12 (Stages Rep's season finished at the end of May with Betty's Summer Vacation).

Only two performances were canceled, June 9 and June 10. All Alley tickets will be honored at the Stages Repertory box office. Because of the change in venue and the seating problems that may arise, there will be only general admission at Stages Repertory, with no assigned seating.

— By Christine Ehren