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Alley Theatre Holds Its Groundbreaking Day Complete With Smashing Pillars

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Tuesday morning was celebration and hard hats as Alley Theatre benefactors, personnel and more than a few actors, gathered to kick off the start of their new enterprise: a renovation of the Alley Theatre building.

While speeches (brief) were made and history was recounted-- including an appropriate acknowledgement of the late Alley Theatre founder Nina Vance whom Alley Artistic Director Gregory Boyd said was standing by his side on stage -- the mood was joyous.

To date, the Alley has raised $47.5 million in its campaign and fund-raising co-Chair Roger Plank said they hope to reach $56.5 million by the time the theater returns from its temporary home for a season at the University of Houston.

Beyond that, the Alley hopes to reach a final goal of $73 million with the last section going to its endowment fund.

Gesturing to his right and left, overhead and below his feet, Boyd showed how the stage area will be expanded to enable them to have more wing room on either side and to go above the present ceiling and below the stage floor.

"This theater when it was created was state of the art at the time. I don't think our way of story telling has changed," Boyd said. "What has changed and what we're looking to do is increase the focus between an actor and an audience member."

"Nina Vance, I think she'd be very pleased and proud today," Boyd continued. "We believe in ghosts in the theater. She stands next to me to celebrate the past and to begin today an amazing future."

A special presentation was made to Margaret Alkek Williams who in honor of all she has done for the Alley, will have the new fourth floor terrace named after her.

Plank finished his presentation by donning a red construction hat and (more symbolically than actually) taking a sledge hammer and smashing into one of the grey pillars that are part of the stage now -- but will go away, their absence never to be mourned.

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