Today the Alley Theatre announced the eight plays for its 2017-2018 season and I must say I’m intrigued. As a subscriber, I know the high quality of the productions there and have learned to trust them when it comes to “unknown” properties. Many of the next season’s selections are in that category but I’m confident they will continue the tradition of fine theatre.
The 8-play season includes:
DESCRIBE THE NIGHT
By Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
September 15 – October 15, 2017
In 1920, the Russian writer Isaac Babel wanders the countryside with the Red Cavalry. Seventy years later, a mysterious KGB agent spies on a woman in Dresden and falls in love. In 2010, an aircraft carrying most of the Polish government crashes in the Russian city of Smolensk. Rajiv Joseph (Gruesome Playground Injuries, The Monster at the Door, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) returns to the Alley with his epic new play Describe the Night which traces the stories of seven men and women connected by history, myth and conspiracy theories. Describe the Night was commissioned by the Alley Theatre. For mature audiences.
Set during the filming of the disastrous 1963 movie “Cleopatra,” Cleo is the story of the scandalous romance of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Their relationship brought condemnation from the Vatican and the US Congress, and it opened the age of paparazzi and tabloid celebrity, ensuring that the names Burton and Taylor would always be associated with the greatest sex scandal in ancient history, that of Antony and Cleopatra. Acclaimed director and actor Bob Balaban directs. For mature audiences.
The tumultuous beginning of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency was dramatized by Robert Schenkkan in his Tony Award-winning play All The Way – seen in a spectacular Alley production last season. The LBJ journey continues in part two, The Great Society. From 1965 to 1968, LBJ struggles to fight a war on poverty even as his war in Vietnam spins out of control. Besieged by political opponents, Johnson marshals all his political wiles while the country descends into chaos over the war and backlash against civil rights. For mature audiences.
Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega pays homage to renowned Southern writer Carson McCullers (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding) in this new play with music about the outspoken, perceptive and wild dreamer who became one of the brightest literary lights of the 20th century. The songs, co-authored by Duncan Sheik (Tony Award for Spring Awakening), richly capture McCullers’ instinctively rebellious nature and forward-thinking philosophies on race, gender and love. For mature audiences.
March 1971. Backstage at the Empire Room of New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Louis Armstrong, the greatest trumpet player in the world, sits in his dressing room trying to pull himself together to do one final show. Because as long as they clap, Louis will go out there and play. His mind wanders through the amazing journey of his life and his complex relationship with his manager Joe Glaser. In a tour de force performance, one actor journeys into the mind and heart of an American musical genius and the man behind the legend. For mature audiences.
Paris. 1904. Picasso and Einstein walk into a bar. Humorous, contemplative and wholly imaginative, comedian and film star turned playwright Steve Martin’s play surprises and provokes. Jumping off from the notion that these two great men were close in age and in Paris at the same time, Martin leaps into a fantastical contemplation of what they might have discussed and who else might have joined them at the Lapin Agile bar. Artistic Director Gregory Boyd directs the Alley Resident Acting Company in this toast to the twentieth century. For mature audiences.
ExxonMobil’s Summer Chills
ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S THE 39 STEPS
Adapted by Patrick Barlow
Directed by Mark Shanahan
July 21 – August 20, 2017
This production remains one of the most popular and bestselling shows in Alley history. Shanahan, who helmed the Alley’s phenomenally popular production in 2010, returns to direct. In the comedy thriller, a man with a boring life meets a woman with a thick accent who says she’s a spy. When he takes her home, she is murdered. Soon, a mysterious organization called “The 39 Steps” is hot on the man’s trail in a nationwide manhunt that climaxes in a death-defying finale. A riotous blend of virtuoso performances and wildly inventive stagecraft, Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps amounts to an unforgettable evening of pure pleasure.
By Charles Dickens
Adapted and originally directed by Michael Wilson
Directed by James Black
November 17 – December 30, 2017
Houston’s seasonal favorite described by the Houston Press as having “Spectacular London sets… the inimitable Dickens’ tale – spiced with the usual fog and an unusual twist on the ghosts past, present and future.” A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas returns this year with a re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic story, which follows Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey with the three ghostly spirits who visit him on Christmas Eve. A Christmas Carol instills a powerful message about redemption and the spirit of the holiday season.
Neuhaus StageCompany Artist Todd Waite reprises his role as “Crumpet the Elf” in the outlandish, and true, chronicles of David Sedaris’ experience as a worker in Macy’s SantaLand display. This compact, one-character comedy is a hilarious cult classic, featuring comic encounters during the height of the holiday crunch. NPR humorist and best-selling author of Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, David Sedaris has become one of America’s preeminent humorists.For ticket information, please visit the Alley Theatre website.