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Houston Matters

The Alley Theatre Returns Home For The Holidays With “A Christmas Carol”

Flood damage from Harvey forced the company to open its season at the University of Houston. But the Alley is bouncing back and presents its annual holiday production back home on its own Hubbard Stage

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  • Melissa Pritchett as Spirit of Christmas Past in the Alley Theatre’s "A Christmas Carol –
A Ghost Story of Christmas." (Photo Credit: John Everett)
    Melissa Pritchett as Spirit of Christmas Past in the Alley Theatre’s "A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas." (Photo Credit: John Everett)
  • Melissa Pritchett as Spirit of Christmas Past
in the Alley Theatre’s "A Christmas Carol –
A Ghost Story of Christmas." (Photo Credit: John Everett)
    Melissa Pritchett as Spirit of Christmas Past in the Alley Theatre’s "A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas." (Photo Credit: John Everett)
  • Jeffrey Bean celebrates his 10th season as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Alley Theatre’s "A Christmas Carol –
A Ghost Story of Christmas." (Photo Credit: John Everett)
    Jeffrey Bean celebrates his 10th season as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Alley Theatre’s "A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas." (Photo Credit: John Everett)
  • (L-R) Jay Sullivan as Fred and
Jeffrey Bean as Ebenezer Scrooge
in the Alley Theatre’s "A Christmas Carol –
A Ghost Story of Christmas." (Photo Credit: Mike McCormick)
    (L-R) Jay Sullivan as Fred and Jeffrey Bean as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Alley Theatre’s "A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas." (Photo Credit: Mike McCormick)
  • "One of the main features of Christmas Carol is this doll, who is dressed exactly like the Ghost of Christmas Present. That doll was underwater, and we rescued her. There was a picture of her in the Houston Chronicle all muddy and a mess. And we saved her, and they were able to completely restore her...and so she'll be back in the show." - Dean Gladden (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    "One of the main features of Christmas Carol is this doll, who is dressed exactly like the Ghost of Christmas Present. That doll was underwater, and we rescued her. There was a picture of her in the Houston Chronicle all muddy and a mess. And we saved her, and they were able to completely restore her...and so she'll be back in the show." - Dean Gladden (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
  • These Victorian dolls are among the many props used in the Alley's "A Christmas Carol."  The center doll was restored from severe Harvey damage - and now a symbol of the theatre's resilience. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    These Victorian dolls are among the many props used in the Alley's "A Christmas Carol." The center doll was restored from severe Harvey damage - and now a symbol of the theatre's resilience. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
  • Harvey's floodwaters outside the Alley Theatre on August 27, 2017. (Photo Credit: Jason Hrncir/Facebook)
    Harvey's floodwaters outside the Alley Theatre on August 27, 2017. (Photo Credit: Jason Hrncir/Facebook)
  • Recovery begins.  Air is pumped into the building on September 4, 2017. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    Recovery begins. Air is pumped into the building on September 4, 2017. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
  • The Alley Theatre Box Office Lobby remains closed and the Neuhaus Theatre (left) is under construction on October 13, 2017. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    The Alley Theatre Box Office Lobby remains closed and the Neuhaus Theatre (left) is under construction on October 13, 2017. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
  • The Alley Theatre prop staff began the process of salvaging props from the basement prop storage and bringing them to an off-site warehouse for cleaning. The staff was able to save about 8,000 of the more than 83,000 props that were damaged by Harvey. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    The Alley Theatre prop staff began the process of salvaging props from the basement prop storage and bringing them to an off-site warehouse for cleaning. The staff was able to save about 8,000 of the more than 83,000 props that were damaged by Harvey. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
  • Crews clean debris followed by sanitization in the lower Mitchell lobby. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    Crews clean debris followed by sanitization in the lower Mitchell lobby. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
  • The lower basement level Mitchell lobby is cleared of debris and demolished. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    The lower basement level Mitchell lobby is cleared of debris and demolished. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
  • Stairs lead down to the basement Mitchell lobby.  The water reached about the 5th step from the bottom. (November 13, 2017) (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    Stairs lead down to the basement Mitchell lobby. The water reached about the 5th step from the bottom. (November 13, 2017) (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
  • On October 13, 2017 dry wall begins to go up in the basement level. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    On October 13, 2017 dry wall begins to go up in the basement level. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
  • Crews store construction material in the lower Neuhaus Theatre before beginning sanitization. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    Crews store construction material in the lower Neuhaus Theatre before beginning sanitization. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
  • The Neuhaus Theatre has been demolished and sanitized (October 13, 2017).  Stage flooring will be rebuilt and theatre seats will be installed mid-December (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    The Neuhaus Theatre has been demolished and sanitized (October 13, 2017). Stage flooring will be rebuilt and theatre seats will be installed mid-December (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
  • Crews begin to rebuild the stage floor in the Neuhaus Theatre on November 13, 2017. (Photo Credit: Sam Ferrigno)
    Crews begin to rebuild the stage floor in the Neuhaus Theatre on November 13, 2017. (Photo Credit: Sam Ferrigno)
  • "Deck the Trees" is another Alley Theatre holiday tradition. Pictured are the 2016 trees. This year's tree lighting ceremony is on Friday, November 24, 2017 at 6:30pm, featuring 40 decorated Christmas trees and 10 wreaths that will be on display in the Alley's Hubbard lobby until January 2, 2018. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)
    "Deck the Trees" is another Alley Theatre holiday tradition. Pictured are the 2016 trees. This year's tree lighting ceremony is on Friday, November 24, 2017 at 6:30pm, featuring 40 decorated Christmas trees and 10 wreaths that will be on display in the Alley's Hubbard lobby until January 2, 2018. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Alley Theatre)

In the Alley's A Christmas Carol, look for a doll dressed like the Ghost of Christmas Present and given to Scrooge. It was submerged and damaged during Hurricane Harvey, but restored and given a new life for this year's show – much like the theatre, itself.

"What we're excited about is that we were able to survive the flood and get back in the theatre and get the show up by Thanksgiving," said Managing Director Dean Gladden.

"This has been an amazing feat when you think that we had 10 feet of water down below – below street level – and then 15 feet of water in our basement."

Gladden said the Alley's staff and suppliers have been working on repairs around the clock non-stop – including restoring the theatre's complex electrical systems, and salvaging and re-making props for the show.

During Harvey, the company’s roughly 84,000 props were ruined underwater. Some of the larger, signature props for A Christmas Carol were saved by having been moved to higher floors, but all of that production’s hand-props were affected and had to be restored.

Construction is still in progress in the Alley's lower levels, which were hit the hardest. The company hopes to reopen its Neuhaus Theatre in January.

But for now, "There is nothing I think more special than to bring this show which celebrates life, which celebrates the importance of humanity and helping one another ... to this community," reflected Gladden.

Resident company actor Melissa Pritchett, who plays the Spirit of Christmas Past, added, "We've gone through something together as a community and a company ... and I think that feeling of being close to one another and wanting to hold onto each other a little longer and a little more, and wanting to laugh a little bit more with each other – I think it's bringing a real spirit of joy and community to this production that is really unique to this year."

A Christmas Carol opens Friday, November 24 and runs through December 30 at The Alley Theatre.

Listen to the complete interview with Dean Gladden, below (recorded 11/17/17):

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Listen to the complete interview with Melissa Pritchett, below (recorded 11/20/17):

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Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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