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Houston’s Alley Theatre Undergoes Renovations for More Elaborate Productions

The Alley will spend more than $47 million to renovate its facility.

The stage was set and the audience was seated when the first act of the renovation took place.

“Out with the old and in with the new!”

And just like that, demolition of the Alley’s outdated stage is underway. Roger Plank, who is co-chair of the theatre’s Extended Engagement capital campaign, was the one who did the honors. He remembers the first time he went to a show at the Alley after moving to Houston from Minneapolis.

“I remember thinking I was going to be a damn yankee in the midst of the deep South, because I didn’t know what Houston was like at that point. I walked down about ten steps, this is the honest to God truth, I looked at the theatre seats, I looked at the stage, it reminded me of my upbringing in Minneapolis and I thought this will make a nice home,” Plank said. “And I think arts and theatre do that for a community.”

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The Alley opened in 1968 and hasn’t had any major renovations to the main stage since then. Artistic Director Gregory Boyd says the theatre was built at a time when scenery wasn’t in fashion.

“These columns are permanent, so every set that’s been on the Alley stage in the last five decades has had to work around or disguise these columns, and that’s not always been an easy thing to do. The floor has no traps in it, traditionally theatres have traps and scenery can come from below. Traditionally, theatres have wing spaces, there is no wing space in this theatre so there’s nowhere for an actor or scenery to go left or right,” Boyd said.

All of those things will be changed to allow for more complicated productions and the stage will be larger while seating will be more intimate. The new stage will open in September of 2015. Meanwhile, the Alley will perform its upcoming 2014-2015 season at the University of Houston. After all, the show must go on.

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Laurie Johnson

Executive Producer for News

Laurie Johnson leads daily news coverage for HPM. She helps reporters craft and sharpen their stories on tight deadlines, with the aim of getting the most relevant and current information into local newscasts. Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. She is...

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