Alley Theatre Hightlights
The Alley Theatre is a professional resident theatre company under the direction of Artistic Director Gregory Boyd and Managing Director Dean Gladden. It is one of the few American Theatre companies that supports a company of actors, designers, artisans and craftspeople throughout the year. Productions are built and rehearsed in a 75,000 square foot state-of-the art facility, one of the largest of its kind, adjacent to its two-theatre complex in downtown Houston.
The Alley Theatre is a Tony Award-winning indoor theatre in Downtown Houston, Texas, and hosts two stages. The “Hubbard” is the main stage with seating for 824; the more intimate “Neuhaus” seats 310. Nine towers and open-air terraces give the Alley Theatre a castle-like quality. Inside, a staircase spirals from the entrance vestibule to the second-floor lobby. A truly wide variety of plays have been performed in this theater.
The Alley Theatre is one of the three oldest resident theatres in the United States.
Under the leadership of Nina Eloise Whittington Vance (1914–1980), the Alley Theatre first started in a “former dance studio with an opening on Main Street. A brick corridor led from Main to the back of the studio, hence the name Alley Theatre.” In 1948, early paying members scouted Houston for a new location for the Alley, finally landing on an abandoned fan factory on Berry Avenue. The Alley re-opened on February 8, 1949, with a production of Lillian Helman’s The Children’s Hour.
The Alley Theatre, as seen from the Bayou Place
In 1954, Ms. Vance brought in Albert Dekker to ‘guest-star’ in Death of a Salesman. The Alley then became a fully professional/Equity company.
The Alley Theatre was invited by the United States State Department to represent the American Regional Theatre at the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958.
In 1962, the Houston Endowment gifted land worth $800,000 and grants worth $2.5 million were awarded to the Alley from the Ford Foundation for the new building at 615 Texas Ave. In the summer of 1963, the theatre raised more than $900,000 from Houstonians. These funds helped the theatre grow from its modest beginnings into one of the most prestigious non-profit resident theatres in the United States.
Paul Zindel‘s The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds was staged at the Alley in 1964 and in 1971 Zindel won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the work.
In 1996, the Alley Theatre won the Regional Theatre Tony Award and has toured 40 American cities and abroad. And is regarded as “one of the most respected resident companies in the country.”
In 1977, Nina Vance was invited on the State Department tour of Russian theater, which led to an invitation from Nina to Galina Volchek, director of the Sovremennik Theater of Moscow, to come to Houston to produce Mikhail Roschin’s play, Echelon. This marked the first time a Russian had been invited to the U.S. to recreate a play precisely as it appeared in the Soviet Union.
Having forged alliances with such international luminaries as Edward Albee, Vanessa Redgrave and Frank Wildhorn, landmark theatrical events at the Alley have included the world premieres of Jekyll & Hyde, The Civil War, and in 1998, Not About Nightingales a newly discovered play by Tennessee Williams, which moved to Broadway in 1999 and was nominated for six Tony Awards, including Best Play.
The Alley is currently led by Artistic Director Gregory Boyd and Managing Director Dean R. Gladden. Since his arrival as artistic director in 1989, Mr. Boyd has produced more than 120 productions at the Alley, including an unprecedented two productions in one season at the Venice Biennale and at Lincoln Center. Texas Monthly writes, no other theatre “in Texas comes close” to the Alley and its “productions often rival Broadway in quality, thanks to its crackerjack resident acting company (one of the few left in the country) and top-to-bottom production staff.”
On March 1, 2011, the Alley Theatre was awarded a Texas Medal of Arts Award by the Texas Cultural Trust, bestowed upon Texas leaders and luminaries in the arts and entertainment industry for creative excellence and exemplary talent.