A version of Dracula that hasn't been seen since the Broadway production in the 1970s , another Horton Foote play featuring Elizabeth Ashley and Hallie Foote, and the return of The Foreigner with company member Jeffrey Bean are all part of the seven-play season that Alley Theatre will be kicking off next August, Artistic Director Gregory Boyd said.
Today the Alley Theatre announced its next season with a line-up that they believe will keep their audience numbers high, even while the performances are moving to the theater at the University of Houston while the Alley undergoes some much-needed renovations.
"Instead of 13 plays in two theaters, we'll be doing seven plays in one," Boyd said. So there's been some reconfiguring of production schedules since the UH theater has 565 seats compared to the Hubbard Stage's 824. Another factor -- and one that Boyd looks forward to -- is that the UH theater boasts a proscenium stage which enables the Alley Company to do some things that would be much more difficult on its "thrust" stage, he says.
Unfortunately, one Alley summer ritual will go on hiatus -- that of the Summer Chills play -- since they won't have time to mount one between the close of this season and the move out of the building by July. But the annual showing of A Christmas Carol won't miss a beat. And they're doing a Shakespeare as well as an early Arthur Miller.
"This season is driven by the company actors," Boyd said. And to a certain extent by the audiences. He said The Foreigner is the most requested play they have "and one of Jeffrey Bean's signature parts. To revisit that is very joyous for us."
The British theater company Kneehigh is coming in as well to do its special brand of physical comedy in the Arthurian legend Tristan & Yseult.
"No one's ever done what we're doing before," Boyd said, in moving their entire operation to another stage for one season. "I think it's an adventure," Boyd said. "The university has been fantastic in how they've more than reached across the aisle to us."
"It's a season of vivid, vivid heroes and vivid, vivid villains," he said with a smile.
Here's what's in store, with descriptions from the Alley Theatre:
Elizabeth Ashley and Hallie Foote in A Story about a Texas Family The Old Friends By Horton Foote Directed by Michael Wilson Previews start August 15, Opens August 20, Through September 7, 2014
By award-winning Texas playwright Horton Foote, The Old Friends is called "transcendent" by the New York Post, named the "critic's pick" by The New York Times and given "five stars" by Bloomberg. Matriarch Mamie Borden and the remaining members of two longtime Texas farming families await a visit from Mamie's son Hugo and his wife Sybil. When Sybil arrives with alarming news, old friends on opposing sides must confront the issues surrounding legacy, loyalty, and the meaning of happiness that have hounded them for generations. Elizabeth Ashley and Hallie Foote (Dividing the Estate, 2011) are in this production helmed by Michael Wilson, director of the Alley's acclaimed productions of Horton Foote's Dividing the Estate, The Trip to Bountiful, and The Carpetbagger's Children. The Old Friends is an absorbing and vital chapter in Foote's beloved, distinctly American body of work. Contains mature themes.
Alley Resident Company Members Jay Sullivan, Jeffrey Bean and James Black in The Classic Thriller presented by ExxonMobil Dracula, the Original Vampire Play By John L. Balderston and Hamilton Deane Directed by Gregory Boyd Previews start October 3, Opens October 8, Through November 2, 2014
Featuring iconic costume and set designs by Edward Gorey, The Alley's production is based on the original 1927 Broadway adaptation of the classic thriller that marvelously balances the menace of the horror tale with sophisticated satire. Alley Theatre Resident Company members Jay Sullivan, Jeffrey Bean and James Black lead the cast. You won't want to miss this "triumphant tumult of escapist entertainment (Associated Press)" Suitable for general audiences.
A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas By Charles Dickens Adapted and Originally Directed by Michael Wilson Directed by James Black Previews start November 21, Opens November 26, Through December 24, 2014
Houston's seasonal favorite the Houston Press described as having "Spectacular London sets ... the inimitable Dickens' tale - spiced with the usual fog and an unusual twist on the ghosts past, present and future." A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas follows Ebenezer Scrooge's journey with the three ghostly spirits that visit him on Christmas Eve. A Christmas Carol instills a powerful message about redemption and the spirit of the holiday season. Suitable for general audiences.
As You Like It By William Shakespeare Directed by Gregory Boyd Previews start January 9, Opens January 14, Through February 8, 2015
"All the world's a stage" for this play about romance, mistaken identity and passionate adventures. One of Shakespeare's greatest comedies, As You Like It traces the separate and intertwining journeys of Rosalind and Orlando, who have each been banished from their home and family. Independently, they each set out with a faithful friend and loyal servant and make their way through the dark Forest of Arden where Rosalind's father had previously been banished. Rosalind is disguised as the boy Ganymede, when she meets up with Orlando deep in the forest. Lovers discover lovers, fathers find daughters, brothers reclaim brothers, people are changed and evil is converted in this delightful story of love. Suitable for general audiences.
All My Sons By Arthur Miller Previews start March 27, Opens April 1, Through April 19, 2015
All My Sons, Arthur Miller's first commercial success, was inspired by a true story about a successful businessman who sold the government defective airplane parts during World War II. The play takes place following World War II, as the Keller family desperately hopes that their son Larry, who was missing in action three years earlier, returns home. As their other son prepares to propose to the woman he loves, who was Larry's girlfriend when he went missing, the Kellers confront realities as family secrets are revealed. All My Sons will be the Alley Theatre's 13th production of a Miller play. Contains mature themes.
Kneehigh's Tristan & Yseult Adapted and directed by Emma Rice Writers: Carl Grose and Anna Maria Murphy Previews start April 24, Opens April 29, Through May 24, 2015
Britain's innovative and exciting theater company Kneehigh makes their Texas debut with a wonderfully inventive, utterly timeless, delightful tale of love. Cornish King Mark rules with his head, until he falls head over heels for his enemy's sister. Based on the ancient tale, Tristan & Yseult revels in forbidden desires, broken hearts and grand passions. Seen through the eyes of the 'Unloved,' Tristan & Yseult blends comedy, live music, grand passion and tender truths in an irresistible night of love! For mature audiences, adult language and sexual situations.
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Alley Resident Company Member Jeffrey Bean in The Foreigner By Larry Shue Directed by James Black Previews start June 12, Opens June 17, Through July 19, 2015
The Foreigner is one of the most popular and most requested comedies in the Alley's history. In the marvelously funny comedy, Alley Resident Company member Jeffrey Bean leads the cast, directed by James Black. This comic gem is set in a remote fishing lodge in Tighman County, Georgia, where socially awkward Charlie discovers intriguing and dangerous secrets under the guise of a foreigner who speaks no English. Suitable for general audiences.
During the 2014 - 2015 season the Alley Theatre will be performing at the University of Houston's Wortham Theatre as the Alley's downtown home is being renovated. The Wortham Theatre is located just off Cullen Boulevard on UH's main campus inside the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts building (also called building 507 on a UH campus map), which also houses the UH School of Theatre & Dance. Free designated parking for Alley patrons will be actively monitored and patrolled by campus security for all performances and is located at campus entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard, just across the street from the theater building.
Season tickets may be purchased at alleytheatre.org or by calling 713.220.5700. Individual tickets will be available for purchase in July 2014, at alleytheatre.org or by calling 713.220.5700. For more information go to alleytheatre.org/uh.