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 have 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 cancelled, 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.
News is not so good for the Alley's Large Stage production, The Devil's Disciple. The remaining performances of George Bernard Shaw's Revolutionary War comedy will be cancelled. Doubt has also been shed on whether or not the Alley's Summer Chills season, this year featuring Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile and The Woman in Black, will be performed (The Alley, when reached for comment, said "The Houston Chronicle prematurely stated that our two ExxonMobil Summer Chills productions may be delayed or even canceled. We are currently assessing how to deal with the two previously announced summer shows, as well as our 2001-2002 season."). Death on the Nile was scheduled to begin performances June 29. Ticketholders for The Devil's Disciple have two options. Once power is restored to the Alley, they may trade in their tickets for a ticket credit to a future Alley production or they may 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.
The Alley still has no estimate of when electricity will be available in the building or when the phone lines will be up. As of June 13, they had just finished pumping out the water from the Neuhaus and shop areas and were able to begin assessing the damage.
Updated information on the Alley's progress and on the Alley Theatre Relief Fund is available on the web at http://www.alleytheatre.org.
As for the Wortham Theatre Center, their hosting of the Ann-Margaret tour of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas has been moved to the Center's Brown Theater to run the same dates, June 12-24. The show was originally scheduled for the flooded Jones Hall.
— By Christine Ehren