It's not often that well-heeled patrons of the arts climb aboard a school bus, albeit a fancy air-conditioned bus, for an evening out but that's exactly what a number of Alley Theatre supporters did last week for opening night of Horton Foote's play The Old Friends.
The unusual circumstances were the result of the Alley taking up temporary residence on the University of Houston campus. The 2014-15 season began with a lively celebration that included a lavish seated dinner, that school bus ride, a play and a post-performance champagne reception with the cast.
With director Michael Wilson in the spotlight, more than 150 Alley patrons and sponsors started the evening at the University of Houston Alumni Center where A Fare Extraordinaire provided a multi-course dinner. A bit of excitement ran through the dinner crowd when Alley managing director Dean Gladden announced that the evening marked Gregory Boyd's 25th anniversary as the theater's creative director. For this milestone, Boyd received a heartfelt standing ovation.
Following the dinner, guests were invited to take the UH campus bus from the alumni center to the Lyndall Finley Wortham Theatre, where the Alley will perform until renovations on the original Alley building downtown are completed next August. A champagne reception followed in the Wortham Theatre Scene Shop with actors that included Hallie Foote and Jeffrey Bean and designer Jeff Cowie with resident assistant director Brandon Weinbrenner.
In the opening-night audience were Margaret Alkek Williams, Lynn Wyatt, Carmen and Butch Mach, Rachel and Jason Volz, Leti Morales and Mike Loya, Beth Madison, Cornelia Long and Andrea and Trent Tellepsen.