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Inside the Alley Theatre’s Biggest and Best Upgrade

Forget the new stage and lobby, the real draw is, shall we say, behind closed doors.

By Nick Esquer September 29, 2015 Published in the October 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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We are of the opinion that Houston needs all the traditions it can get, and generally mourn the passing of each and every one with no small amount of melodrama.  We do draw the line, however, when it comes to endless restroom lines at the Alley Theatre during intermission. Of all the experiences one might enjoy at Houston’s quintessential Brutalist structure, few have been as brutal as those endured by patrons of the ladies’ lavatory. Indeed, for women not seated on the aisle, often the only recourse was to shrug one’s shoulders and hold it. 

But as of this month, such self-abnegation is no more, courtesy the Alley’s $46.5 million renovation, which includes a four-story fly loft, a fully trapped area below the stage, new seats, new lobby space and, of course, new restrooms. Could we have a moment of silence? 

“The women’s restrooms have been completely remolded and expanded,” says Alley managing director Dean Gladden. “We will now be able to accommodate the theater’s growing audience by alleviating lines.” In other words, it’s the end of an era. 

The new second-floor women’s digs, bright and shiny, now boast—count ’em—24 toilets compared to 12 in previous years, plus ample space to freshen up (the small women’s restroom for the ground-level Neuhaus Stage remains unchanged). The expansion means shorter lines, and that means you’ll finally have time to grab a drink during intermission, and at a brand-new bar to boot (same floor).  

Where did the extra space come from? The men’s room, apparently, which the Alley relocated to the third floor, ending yet another tradition: accidentally walking in on the ladies.

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