When Tropical Storm Allison wrecked havoc on much of Houston's downtown, the hardest hit theatrical victim was the Alley Theatre. While the upstairs Mainstage was unscathed, the second space, the belowground Neuhaus Arena Stage was severely flooded.
With the arrival of Of Mice and Men Jan. 23, however, the restored Neuhaus will take its first bows for the Houston public. After $6 million worth of water damages, the Alley solicited donations to improve the theatre as well as repair the space. Included in the new Neuhaus are a new lobby area, twice as large as previously, bigger restrooms, a new lighting system using catwalks, and the removal of a fourth wall, allowing the Neuhaus to become a thrust stage. The Alley hopes to add submarine doors to their portion of the Houston tunnel system to further protect the Neuhaus.
Of Mice and Men, directed by Not About Nightingales' James Black, plays through Feb. 17 on the new Neuhaus. Previews began Jan. 18
Written by John Steinbeck in 1936, Of Mice and Men follows the small, but hard-working George and the mentally handicapped Lennie as they travel together through the migrant farming system. While they dream of one day having their own place, Lennie's great strength and lack of understanding threatens everything they've worked for. Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize for "The Grapes of Wrath."
K. Todd Freeman is George with David Rainey as Lennie. Also in Of Mice and Men are James Belcher (the Boss), Shelley Calene-Black (Curley's Wife), Robert Colston (Crooks), Timothy Dickson (Whit), Byron Jaquet (Carlson), Davi Jay (Slim), Charles Krohn (Candy) and Sean Patrick Reilly (Curley). Tickets are $40-$45. 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.
— By Christine Ehren