Rain is still falling, and it's too soon to say how Harvey's historic rainfall will impact the future of performing arts organizations in the city. Nobody has forgotten how 2001 Tropical Storm Allison devastated the Theater District, and even after numerous measures to prevent similar flooding, water found its way into many of the same buildings. What follows is a preliminary status report of major performing arts organizations and facilities around the city.
Crucially, the Theater District parking garages—already a mind-numbing labyrinth on a good day—are "full of water on all levels and are therefore completely unusable," according to a statement from the Houston Theater District. After Allison, they were closed for three months for repairs, with the 3,000-plus spaces out of commission. The Houston Symphony noted the garage closures in its release about the cancellation of its season opener, "Ella at 100." (Jones Hall, home of HSO, reports no damage to the auditorium but significant water damage to the basement rehearsal room.)
UPDATE: The Houston Symphony has cancelled an additional three shows: "The Best of John Williams," "Opening Night Concert + Gala with Susan Graham," and "Fiesta Sinfónica."
The Alley Theatre was heavily affected by Allison when Buffalo Bayou floodwaters flowed into the Downtown Tunnels and up into the Alley. As we reported in 2015, a multi-million dollar renovation to the Alley did not erase the scars of that storm:
Along the wall, we were pointed to a yellow line about eight feet high with royal blue paint filling the void beneath to the floor. This marker indicates the water levels after Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which caused extensive damage to the Neuhaus Stage and the props and costume departments.
After Harvey, the Alley reports no damage to the lobby or Hubbard main stage, but, once again, the smaller Neuhaus Stage is filled with water, and the facility's electrical systems remain submerged. "We're completely out of commission," Alley Managing Director Dean Gladden told the Houston Chronicle. Remaining performances of their season opener, The 39 Steps, are canceled while they search for alternative venues for subsequent shows.
UPDATE: The Alley reports the lower levels of its theater, as well as "unseen amounts of props," to be completely destroyed.
The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, host to Theatre Under the Stars and various big-name performances, reports water damage to Zilkha Hall and its loading docks. Damage assessments are ongoing.
UPDATE: With only minor damage to Zilkha Hall, the venue is almost entirely operational. It will host the North American premiere of Phillip Glass' Aguas da Amazonia this Saturday, Sept. 9.
The Wortham Center, home to the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet, announced in a release that both stages incurred damage and the basement remains full of water. HGO staff moved many of its instruments and costumes to higher ground, including those for opening shows La Traviata and Julius Caesar.
UPDATE: "Due to a disruption of the company’s systems from a power outage and minor water damage that caused our ticketing and email systems to go offline, our offices are closed and will remain closed through Labor Day," writes Houston Ballet director Stanton Welch. "Furthermore, our season-opening performances of 'Poetry in Motion,' scheduled for September 8-17, have been unavoidably cancelled. We will endeavor to reschedule those performances in the coming months. We are hopeful that 'Mayerling' will be able to open the season with performances beginning on September 21st, as previously scheduled. This plan, of course, depends on the availability of the Wortham Theater Center, which has incurred some storm-related damage, as previously reported."
Stages Repertory Theatre, located outside the Theater District along Allen Parkway, reported the facility "dry and undamaged" as of Monday.
Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company, which shares space with 4th Wall Theatre Company, emerged unscathed, and is now collecting shelter donations at its Spring Street Studios location.
A.D. Players, located on Westheimer in Uptown, sustained only minor damage. They will continue their season with a production of Harvey, based on the classic comedy drama of a wealthy drunk hallucinating an imaginary, human-sized talking rabbit named Harvey. "We want it to be a lighthearted lift to our beloved community, which has suffered so much in just a few short days," the group wrote in a Facebook post.
Main Street Theater, which splits itself between a Rice Village location and MATCH, reports no damage as of Tuesday.