ALLEY THEATRE

www.alleytheatre.org

James Black, Interim Artistic Director

Dean R. Gladden, Managing Director
Box Office Phone 713-220-5700

Presents

CLEO

World Premiere CLEO by Lawrence Wright

Explores the Greatest Sex Scandal in Film and Ancient History

Wright joins director Bob Balaban to stage the titanic love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

April 6 – April 29, 2018

  

Alley Theatre
615 Texas Avenue Houston, TX 77002

 

Actor Lisa Birnbaum as Elizabeth Taylor in the Alley Theatre's World Premiere of Cleo by Lawrence Wright. Directed by Bob Balaban, Cleo premieres April 6, 2018 and runs through April 29, 2018 in the Alley's Hubbard Theatre. Photo by Lynn Lane.


 

 

 

Richard Short as Richard Burton and Lisa Birnbaum as Elizabeth Taylor in the Alley Theatre's World Premiere of Cleo by Lawrence Wright. Directed by Bob Balaban, Cleo premieres April 6, 2018 and runs through April 29, 2018 in the Alley's Hubbard Theatre.   Photo by Lynn Lane.



 

World Premiere CLEO by Lawrence Wright Explores the Greatest Sex Scandal in Film and Ancient History  

 

 Award-winning Lawrence Wright joins director Bob Balaban to stage the titanic love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, April 6 – April 29, 2018 

 

HOUSTON  – The Alley Theatre announces the cast and creative team of the world premiere play Cleo by Lawrence Wright, directed by Bob Balaban. Set during the filming of the 1963 movie "Cleopatra",Cleo is the story of the affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and the worldwide scandal that followed. Cleo plays the Hubbard Theatre April 6 – April 29, 2018 and is recommended for mature audiences. Tickets are available at alleytheatre.org or by calling the Box Office at 713-220-5700.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s relationship brought condemnation from the Vatican and the US Congress. Their union advanced the age of the age of paparazzi and tabloid celebrity, ensuring that the names Burton and Taylor would always be associated with the greatest sex scandal in film and ancient history. With lavish sets and costumes, Cleo goes behind the scenes and explores what sparked the sexual revolution in Rome in 1963.

 

 

 

“We’re thrilled to welcome back Larry and Bob for the premiere of Cleo. The cast and creative team was deep into rehearsals and building sets and costumes when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. We knew we had to find a spot in the season to bring them all back and produce this brilliant work for our audiences. What better way to ring in spring than with a writer, director, and love affair, all of epic proportions,” said Interim Artistic Director James Black.

 

 

 


Actor Lisa Birnbaum as Elizabeth Taylor in the Alley Theatre's World Premiere of Cleo by Lawrence Wright. Directed by Bob Balaban, Cleo premieres April 6, 2018 and runs through April 29, 2018 in the Alley's Hubbard Theatre. Photo by Lynn Lane.

 

 

 

 

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Cleo playwright Lawrence Wright is an author, screenwriter, and playwright. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1992, where he has won two National Magazine Awards. He is the author of ten books, one of which, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, and was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 greatest nonfiction books ever written. The book was made into a TV series, “The Looming Tower,” and premiered on Hulu on February 28, 2018. His bestselling book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief (2013), was nominated for the National Book Award and won the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. In April, Knopf will publish his next book, a personal history titled God Save Texas. 

Wright grew up in Dallas and is a longtime resident of Austin. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Society of American Historians. He also serves as the keyboard player in the Austin-based blues band, WhoDo.  

Acclaimed director and actor Bob Balaban (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Gosford Park and multiple films with Christopher Guest including Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show) directs. Balaban directed and produced the long running Off-Broadway play The Exonerated which won the Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama Desk awards. Other Off-Broadway directing credits include Arthur Kopit's Y2K for the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Lucille Lortel, Manuscript at the Daryl Roth Theatre, Vick’s Boy at Rattlestick Theater, and Family Secrets at 37 Arts. He directed the world premiere of Lucy Boyle’s The Blue Deep at Williamstown Theatre Festival.  

The Cleo cast includes Lisa Birnbaum (American Repertory Theatre’s Sense & Sensibility, Off-Broadway: Arielle in F#%king Up Everything). Birnbaum plays opposite Richard Short (“Mary Kills People,” HBO’s “Vinyl,” Broadway’s Jerusalem) as Richard Burton. The cast also includes Mark Capri (The Roundabout’s On Approval, Broadway’s Private Lives) as Rex Harrison, Brian Dykstra (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ The Humans, Broadway: Lucky) as Joe Mankiewicz and Adam Gibbs (Alley’s Ether Dome, Our Town) as Eddie Fisher. Rounding out the cast is Estèe Burks (The Landing Theatre’s In Darfur, Obsidian Theater's For Colored Girls) Tommy Stuart (Shakespeare Dallas’s Don Quixote, University of Oklahoma’s Love's Labour's Lost), Thomas Valdez (Corpus Christi’s Smokefall, Rent) and Morgan Starr (Main Street Theater’s Grand Concourse, Stages’ Miss Teen).

 

 


Estee Burks as Hairdresser/Ensemble and Lisa Birnbaum as Elizabeth Taylor in the Alley Theatre’s World Premiere production Cleo, by Lawrence Wright. Directed by Bob Balaban, the play runs April 6- April 29 in the Hubbard Theatre. Photo by Lynn Lane.

 

 

 

Cleo creative team includes Scenic Designer Richard Hoover, Costume Designer Alejo Vietti, Lighting Designer David Weiner, Sound Designers Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, Assistant Director Brandon Weinbrenner, Stage Managers Hethyr Verhoef and Kristen Larson, and Casting by Stewart/Whitley, with Additional Casting by Adam Belcuore, CSA.  

Brian Yorkey received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as the 2009 Tony Award for Best Score, for Next to Normal. He was also nominated for the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Next to Normal, and his work on the show earned him the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Score. He partnered again with the Next to Normal team on If/Then (Tony Award nominee for Best Score), starring Idina Menzel. Brian co-wrote the libretto for The Last Ship (Outer Critics nomination, with John Logan), with a score by Sting. He is currently working on the original musical Jesus in My Bedroom, with composer Tim Symons, as well as stage musical adaptations of Magic Mike and the Tom McCarthy film The Visitor. He is also adapting Jay Asher's bestselling novel 13 Reasons Why for Netflix, Paramount Television and Anonymous Content. Film projects in active development include Chase for Anonymous Content and Rosenzweig Films, Time After Time for Universal, and Score! for Team Downey and Warner Bros. Additional theatre credits include Making Tracks, which has played off-Broadway and regionally, the musical adaptation of Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet, and the play Book of Jobs with Alex Glover. Brian has directed off-Broadway and regionally and for seven years was associate artistic director at Village Theatre in Washington state, one of the nation’s leading producers of new musicals. He’s a graduate of Columbia University, where he was artistic director of the Varsity Show, an alum of the BMI/Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and the WGA. 

Performances of Cleo are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Cleo is recommended for mature audiences.

 

 

  
Richard Short as Richard Burton and Lisa Birnbaum as Elizabeth Taylor in the Alley Theatre's World Premiere of Cleo by Lawrence Wright. Directed by Bob Balaban, Cleo premieres April 6, 2018 and runs through April 29, 2018 in the Alley's Hubbard Theatre.   Photo by Lynn Lane..


SPONSORS: Cleo is sponsored in part Associate Producers Jerry & Nanette Finger Family Foundation, Trini Mendenhall, and Christina and Stephen C. Morse;

and Supporting Sponsors Bank of America, Rand Group, and the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

The Alley Theatre is supported by the 2017-2018 season sponsor United Airlines, the official airline of the Alley Theatre;

Four Seasons Hotel Houston, the official hotel of the Alley Theatre; and Lynn Wyatt.  

TICKETS 

Tickets to Cleo are now on sale and start at $26. Discounted tickets are available for military and senior, and any student, regardless of age, with a valid student ID for designated performances. Tickets can be ordered online (alleytheatre.org) or by phone (713.220.5700).  

 
 

Richard Short as Richard Burton, Lisa Birnbaum as Elizabeth Taylor and Brian Dykstra as Joe Mankiewicz in the Alley Theatre’s World Premiere production Cleo, by Lawrence Wright. Directed by

Bob Balaban, the play runs April 6- April 29 in the Hubbard Theatre. Photo by Lynn Lane.


Bob Balaban, director of the play CLEO which runs April 6- April 29, 2018 in the Hubbard Theatre. Photo by Lynn Lane.

 

 

 

Alley Stage Management and Artistic staff prepare to begin Cleo rehearsals.  The temporary rehearsal space was on the 55th floor of a Downtown Houston office building. Cleo
rehearsals (already in progress and schedules before Harvey) were relocated due to damage to the Alley from Hurricane Harvey.  The World Premiere of Cleo by Lawrence Wright was April 6, 2018 at the Alley Theatre. Photo by Erich Schlegel.

 

 

 


ABOUT THE ALLEY THEATRE

 

The Alley Theatre, one of America’s leading not-for-profit theatres, is a nationally recognized performing arts company led by Interim Artistic Director James Black and Managing Director Dean R. Gladden. The Alley produces up to 16 plays each year in its newly renovated theatre, ranging from the best current work, to reinvigorated classic plays, to new plays by contemporary writers. The Alley is home to a Resident Company of actors. In addition, the Alley engages theatre artists of every discipline – actors, designers, composers, playwrights – who work on individual productions throughout each season as Visiting Artists. The Hubbard Theatre renovation was completed in October 2015– and created a new 774-seat state-of-the-art performance venue. Matched with the newly renovated 296-seat Neuhaus Theatre, the Alley offers nearly 500 performances each season. The Company reaches over 200,000 people each year through its performance and education programs. Its audience enrichment programs include pre-show and post-performance talks, events, and workshops for audience members of all ages.

  

Cleo Playwright Lawrence Wright. Photo by Lynn Lane at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The World Premiere of Cleo will be April 6, 2018 at the Alley Theatre.