After recovering from Tropical Storm Allison's damage to its stages and storage spaces, the Alley Theatre produced its first work, the second "Summer Chills" production The Woman in Black. The ghostly thriller ends its run Aug. 12 on the Large Stage to make room for the first production of the 2001-02 season, The Glass Menagerie with Elizabeth Ashley.
The Woman in Black began performances on its original opening date, July 20 but ran extra week to replace tickets from the first "Summer Chills" production, Death on the Nile, canceled due to the storm damage.
The Woman in Black 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 ghost 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 recently opened - and closed - a production Off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre.
Tickets to 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.
* Earlier, the Alley Theatre announced that it would 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.
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."
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 reported (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. The Carpetbagger's Children ran at Stages Rep through July 8 before continuing on to the Guthrie Theatre in Minnesota, where it is currently playing.
For photos of the Alley Theatre's flood damage, visit http://www.alleytheatre.org/site/PageServer?pagename=stormphotos.
— By Christine Ehren