Alley Theatre

The stage company gets over a thin-skinned response

The Alley Theatre is a cherished, honored Houston institution.

Who knew it was also home to some incredibly thin-skinned, petty prima ­donnas?

Houston Press reviewer D.L. Groover took on the Alley's production of Treasure Island back in May [see "Treasure Island — and Jim Hawkins — is a drag," May 31].

Last chance, kids!

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Alley Theatre

615 Texas Ave.
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Theaters

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

He didn't like it, which can happen occasionally with theater critics. He was fairly harsh in not liking it, but nothing too over-the-top. Reading the review shows he's a big fan of the original book and took offense at such Alley revisions to it as casting a female as the young boy Jim Hawkins ("Nothing against Elizabeth Bunch, who's a lovely actor, but not for a moment do we believe she's a he: the wrong age, size and sex," he wrote).

The Alley's reaction? An omertà against the Press. No tickets for reviewers (fine, we can buy our own), no publicity photos for any Alley productions, no interviews with actors (see "foot, shooting yourself in").

Rodi Franco, the Alley's director of communication, told Press editor Margaret Downing in early June that Groover's review was "very personal." She took exception, especially, to two lines in the review: "Forty lashes to playwright Ken Ludwig" and "Walk the plank, director Greg Boyd."

That's enough to raise the hackles of the Alley? They must think Larry King's a tough reviewer.

"I don't see how David Groover could escape naming the writer and the director, particularly when he's criticizing them for what they've done," Downing wrote to Franco in June. "And...he was playing off the pirate theme in his writing, which is well within creative license, particularly in a review."

At the time, Franco requested that Groover not review any further productions at the Alley, a request that was pretty much a nonstarter.

During the ensuing months, the Alley refused to provide photos to the Press, and one PR representative openly laughed at a Press staffer who requested an interview with any cast member of the upcoming drama Doubt.

Tired of the ­pissant policy, Downing recently made another attempt to talk to whoever was behind the decision. We also told the Alley we'd be doing a column item on the situation.

For whatever reason, we then got press photos for Doubt, review tickets for future productions and an apology from the Alley.

"The Alley Theatre's withholding of production photos that would have supported coverage of our Summer Chills production in the Houston Press was an overreaction to the editor's refusal of our request that David Groover not review future Alley Theatre productions following his review of Treasure Island," the official statement read. "Photos have been supplied to support coverage of Doubt."

Seeing as how Doubt deals with a priest accused of child molestation, we can only hope our reviewer doesn't call for anyone to be crucified.

Shouldn't You Be In Church?

The wet summer has been wreaking havoc with coaches trying to schedule practices and games for youth sports. For those coaches who live in the Fort Bend school district, the problem is compounded by the fact that FBISD wants your butt in church.

Teams can rent FBISD fields any weeknight except one: Wednesday. You can't get a field after 6 p.m. Wednesday.

When youth-football coach Stuart Adams asked why, FBISD administrator Michael McKie told him, "It may be important to note that many of your players may not be able to practice on Wednesdays due to other personal commitments."

Does McKie know Adams's players better than Adams? Probably not, but he apparently does realize that Wednesday nights are a big church night. Unless, of course, you're Catholic, or Jewish, or Muslim, or someone who just doesn't really care much about religion.

Fort Bend officials won't make the church connection directly. (When Adams asked for "the logic behind" the policy, McKie wrote, "'Can you explain the logic behind it.' You cannot use the facility Wednesday because it would violate district policy.")

District spokeswoman Mary Ann Simpson told Hair Balls by e-mail that she talked to officials and learned that "the leadership of the district decided that we needed to identify a specific time each week that could be 'reserved' for family activities, a time that families could count on as being virtually undisturbed."

She wouldn't make those officials available for interview, or return a call seeking to learn why FBISD's idea of reserving family time should extend to non-FBISD people simply seeking to rent fields.

Not to mention that whole church-state thing.

"Four Hours"? Pussy!

The 14th Court of Appeals in Houston issued a ruling August 30 on a medical malpractice case.

None of the attorneys involved would speak to us, so we take the summary of events from the court's opinion: A guy went to Boston Medical Group Texas for erectile dysfunction. He was prescribed a medication that he was to inject into his penis "when he desired to achieve an erection." (Which to us would be NEVER, if it involved injecting your penis.)

He "performed this self-injection on July 19, 2003," the opinion states. "Two days later, on July 21, [he] continued to have an erection, so he returned to see" the doctor. After a further ten hours, he went to an emergency room for a "surgical decompression" that left him impotent.

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