The Noel Coward centennial birthday celebration finishes up at Houston's Alley Theatre March 25 with the closing of Coward's Hay Fever. Performances began Feb. 25 with an opening March 1. Stephen Rayne (The Civil War tour) directs.
Coward wrote Hay Fever based on the real-life parties he attended at the home of actress Laurette Taylor (later famous for creating Amanda in The Glass Menagerie) and her husband, Hartley Manners, on the Upper West Side. He moves the action from the city to the country as the sarcastically-named Bliss family gather draft four guests into the clan's war-like gaming atmosphere. The challenges of charades are turned into the ultimate opportunity for one-upmanship.
Starring in Hay Fever are Michelle Federer as Sorel Bliss, Crispin Freeman (A View From the Bridge) as Simon Bliss, Lillian Evans as Clara, Monique Fowler (You Can't Take It With You) as Judith Bliss, Paul Vincent as David Bliss, Sandy Tyrell (Philadelphia, Here I Come!) as Sean Dougherty, Myra Arundel as Carol Johnson, Paul Hope (in his 10th season at the Alley) as Richard Greatham and Luci Christian as Jackie Croyton.
Designing the show are Hough Landwehr (sets), Jeanne Button (costumes), Pat Collins (lighting) and Malcolm Nicholls (sound). Amy Knotts is the stage manager.
Tickets are $49-$19. The Alley Theatre is located at 615 Texas Avenue. For reservations and information, call (713) 228-8421. The Alley Theatre is on the web at http://www.alleytheatre.com. -- By Christine Ehren