An exciting partnership between the University of Houston and the Tony Award-winning Alley Theatre was announced today (Jan. 29), resulting in the Alley performing its entire 2014-2015 season at the University’s Wortham Theatre – a 565-seat venue whose proscenium opening and stage area closely resembles most Broadway theaters.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for our theater students to directly engage with the Alley's working professionals,” said UH President Renu Khator. “In addition to specific internships, simply sharing the hallways is a wonderful chance for our students to make connections and gain insight from the Alley's experienced and talented actors and staff. I know they'll experience the energy of our students as well.”
Khator said the partnership with the Alley fits well with the UH Arts Initiative, which features public programs that include premiere theater and musical productions, art and architectural exhibitions, literary readings and performances. Public events include the Houston Shakespeare Festival at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre and the Texas Music Festival, which presents concerts throughout the Houston metropolitan area.
Programming for the 68th Alley Theatre season at UH will be announced next week.
Jim Johnson, director of the School of Theatre & Dance at UH, said, “I'm excited to share our facilities with some Alley patrons who may not have visited the UH campus before. We've been going through some renovations to prepare the theater for the Alley, in addition to some improvements to parking and a major transformation of the park space in the midst of UH's Arts campus.”
Johnson said UH and the Alley have had a number of interactions over the years.
“UH alums have been a part of the Alley team for decades, and we’ve been lucky enough to have a number of Alley professionals work here with us,” he said. “Recently, Alley professionals have taught a number of our classes, they’ve performed in the Houston Shakespeare Festival, and they’ve mentored our students in a variety of internship positions.”
In selecting a venue for the 2014-2015 season, a comprehensive analysis of all possible options was undertaken by the Alley. The Wortham Theatre was chosen because of its modern amenities, similar size to the Alley’s Hubbard Stage, up-to-date stage technology and its proximity to the Alley Theatre’s downtown home. The theater has excellent audience amenities including ADA-compliant seating.
“This is an exciting time for the Alley, with their major renovations about to begin, and it’s led to significant improvements here at UH as well,” Johnson said. “We’re almost complete with the replacement of our rigging system in the Wortham Theatre, and it’s been an opportunity for us to complete some major upgrades in our Quintero Theatre as well.”
Johnson said Alley patrons will find a welcoming environment at UH.
“I think they’ll enjoy a very warm reception here, where you can feel the vibrant energy the students bring as they train under our outstanding faculty and, now, experience being in the midst of one of the great American theater companies.”
With financial support from its successful Extended Engagement Capital Campaign, the Alley will begin extensive renovations to its facilities on July 14, 2014. These will continue through the summer of 2015, with the grand opening of the renovated Alley Theatre scheduled for fall 2015.
“The Extended Engagement Campaign will fund the renovation of the Alley’s building, creating one of the best theater facilities in the country right here in Houston,” said Meredith Long, co-chair of the campaign. “This campaign will also ensure a legacy of artistic excellence for future generations.”
The Wortham Theatre is located just off Cullen Boulevard inside the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts building (also called building 507 on a UH campus map), which also houses the UH School of Theatre & Dance. Free designated parking for Alley patrons will be actively monitored and patrolled by campus security for all performances and is located at campus entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard, just across the street from the theatre building.