Todd Waite as Sherlock Holmes in the Alley Theatre’s 2003 production of Sherlock Holmes.

Updated 10:46 a.m. May 22

In a surprise to Houston’s theater community, the Alley Theatre announced Friday morning that it is restructuring its operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing “ongoing economic repercussions” as the major factor behind the decision.

The Alley is reducing its previously announced 2020-2021 season from eight shows to five, plus its production of A Christmas Carol. There’s no news yet on which shows have been dropped from the season, but the changes will be announced by Artistic Director Rob Melrose at a later date, according to statement. The Alley has also cut its Alley All New Festival, and plans to replace it with a free reading series.

In addition to a smaller season, which will run from Oct. 2 2020 through July 4, 2021, the Alley will not use its 296-seat Neuhaus Theatre, opting instead to stage all productions in the larger Hubbard Theatre in order to meet social distancing requirements.

“The Alley is committed to producing a season even in this difficult time. With proper safety protocols and social distancing, we believe that our patrons will be ready to experience live theatre once again,” Managing Director Dean Gladden said in the release.

Changes amid COVID-19 aren’t just limited to the Alley’s upcoming productions— in a greater blow to the Bayou City’s performing arts prospects, the theatrical mainstay also announced a reduction of its annual operating budget, a 35-percent drop from $20 million to $13 million, and a reduction of its staff. These layoffs follow a previous staff cut in March that was reversed when the Alley received financial assistance through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Laid-off staffers will receive full compensation and health benefits through June while remaining staffers take pay reductions, according to the statement.

“The reduction in income requires the Alley to reduce its staff and cut operating expenses in order to balance its budget,” per the statement. “Laid-off staff members will receive severance pay that reflects their years of service.”

Published 3:24 p.m. Apr 10

It’s been a rough few weeks for the Houston theater community, but finally there’s a bit of good news. The Alley Theatre has announced its 2020-2021 season, and it will include some of this year’s cancelled productions and five world premieres overall.

Instead of offering its annual Summer Chills production, the new season will kick off in September with Clue, inspired by Hasbro’s whodunit board game. The season will also include the Alley’s holiday standard, A Christmas Carol, which returns for its 30th-anniversary production. And for those of you saddened by the shortening of this year’s theatrical offerings, the Alley has rescheduled the world premiere of Amerikin and comedy Dead Man’s Cell Phone.

Other standouts of the upcoming season include Noir, a brand-new musical from Tony Award-winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and Kyle Jarrow (The Spongebob Musical); Liz Duffy Adams’ Born With Teeth, which reimagines the rivalry between literary greats William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and High School Play: A Nostalgia Fest, which is being co-produced with Dallas Theater Center.  

Alley Theatre 2020–2021 Season
Clue: Sept 18–Oct 25, 2020
Amerikin: Oct 9–Nov 8, 2020 (World Premiere)
A Christmas CarolA Ghost Story of Christmas: Nov 19–Dec 30, 2020
What-A-Christmas!: Dec 1–27, 2020 (World Premiere)
Noir: Jan 21–Feb 21, 2021 (World Premiere)
Baskerville: A Sherlock Homes Mystery: Mar 12–Apr 4, 2021
Born With Teeth: Apr 2–May 2, 2021 (World Premiere)
Dead Man’s Cell Phone: Apr 30–May 23, 2021
Waiting for Godot: May 21–June 20, 2021
High School Play: A Nostalgia Fest: June 11–July 4, 2021 (World Premiere)
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