If you need a reminder that a hurricane tore through town a few months ago, head to the vacated Wortham Theater Center, where a tangle of tubes and fans and other equipment remain scattered across its deserted plaza. The flood damage proved more extensive than originally thought, forcing Houston First, the organization that oversees numerous downtown facilities, to announce the Wortham will remain closed until September 2018. This leaves many organizations—including Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Da Camera, and Society for the Performing Arts—scrounging for venues near and far to fill out the remainder of their seasons.
After half a season of exhibit hall opera, these so-called "unconventional" performances have become the new norm. HGO announced in early November that it would round out its 2017–2018 season at their Resilience Theater, and Houston Ballet revealed Monday afternoon its "Hometown Tour" will continue as it bounces between the convention center, the Hobby Center, Jones Hall, UH's Moores Opera House, and Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land. You can find the detailed itinerary via their website, but two of their remaining programs—Rock, Roll & Tutus and Play—will grace the echoic halls of the GRB.
What's taking them so long to fix the Wortham? As Wei-Huan Chen reveals over at the Houston Chronicle, it's the aftermath of 12 feet of floodwater and several unpleasant surprises:
While inspecting the property for damage, workers discovered additional layers of walls that they did not know existed. The inner walls, hidden behind the outer walls, contained insulation that took on water and remain potentially infected with bacteria that could grow if left in the basement.
In order to remove the inner layer of insulation, the outer walls had to be demolished.
After the demo is completed, there's a long process of finally drying out the basement. Houston First will also evaluate what upgrades to make to prevent flooding in another Harvey-like situation, as it did following 2001 Tropical Storm Allison.