For more than ten years, Ten Eyck Swackhamer, the general manager at the Alley Theatre, has been waiting to present a redo of the theater working with an existing space on Texas Avenue in downtown Houston that allowed them to go up (they added four floors on top) but not out.
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Last week he took the Houston Press for a technical tour from the below-ground dressing rooms to the catwalk 60 feet over the stage floor to the highest points in the newly renovated building. The beautiful new red seats replace ones that hadn't changed since 1968. (They tested out three finalists for the job by having designers sit in them for 90 minutes at a time and pick the most comfortable.)
The shape of the stage is different, The bathrooms have been enlarged, rearranged and moved. Much-improved acoustics mean actors onstage will be heard more clearly by everyone. But through it all, Swackhamer says, they managed to retain "the Alleyness of the Alley."
The first season's show, One Man, Two Guvnors, begins with previews on October 2. Here's an early guided tour to get you going with the help of videographer Monica Fuentes, who never wavered, even when she was walking the catwalk and filming along the way.