Gregory Boyd, Artistic Director
Paul R. Tetreault, Managing Director
Alley Theatre Ends Season with Tom Stoppard's Romantic Comedy
THE REAL THING
~MAY 19 - JUNE 18, 2000~
HOUSTON, Texas-Tom Stoppard's romantic comedy, The Real Thing, is the Alley
Theatre's 1999-2000 season finale. Directed by Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd-
who directed last season's smashing production of Stoppard's Travesties-The Real Thing
explores sex, love, infidelity and the search for the "real thing." The production, sponsored by
PriceWaterhouseCoopers, American General Corporation and The Cullen Trust for the
Perfon-ning Arts, begins previews Friday, May 19, with the official opening on Wednesday, May
24, and runs through Sunday, June 18, 2000.
London's Donmar Warehouse production of The Real Thing is on Broadway and has
earned five Tony Award nominations. The Real Thing is considered to be Mr. Stoppard's most
personal work. It begins with Max and Charlotte, a couple whose mamage seems to be about to
break up. But nothing one sees on stage is the real thing, and some things are less real than
others. Charlotte is an actress who is appearing in a play about marriage written by her husband
Henry. Max is an actor married to an actress named Annie. Both marriages are in danger
because Henry and Annie have fallen in love. But is it the real thing?
"What's beautiful about (The Real Thing) is that it makes commitment, trust and
openness sexy and romantic, which is difficult to do," said actor Jennifer Ehle, who plays Annie
in the current Broadway production of The Real Thing, on The Charlie Rose Show.
When The Real Thing premiered in 1982 in London, audiences and critics were
surprised at the highly emotional nature of the play from a writer who typically focused on
intellectual themes. "'Stoppard feels!' was the delighted implication of most of the reviews, a
sense that the most dizzyingly cerebral of British playwrights had at last led with his heart
instead of his head," wrote Ben Brantley of The New York Times. The Real Thing "is a rare
thing," he added, "an elegant comedy of infidelity filled with the sort of comebacks that people
only wish they were capable of themselves."
Mr. Stoppard was bom in 1937 Czechoslovakia and moved to England in 1946 when his
mother married British Army major Kenneth Stoppard. At 17, Tom became a cub reporter for
the Western Daily Press in Bristol that, for the next six years, had him writing all sorts of
assignments, including film and theatre criticism.
He ended his journalism career in 1960 to pursue his own writing, which included a play
titled A Walk on the Water (produced in 1968 under the title Enter a Free Man). In 1964, he
was awarded a grant from the Ford Foundation and was invited to West Berlin for a five-month
colloquium. During this period, Mr. Stoppard wrote the draft for the play Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern Are Dead (initially titled Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Meet King Lear), a
retelling of Hamlet through the eyes of two marginal characters. Laurence Olivier's National
Theatre obtained the rights for the London premiere of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and it
debuted April 11, 1967 at the Old Vic, making him the youngest playwright (at 29) to have a
work staged at the National Theatre.
He went on to write several other plays, including The Real Inspector Hound (1968),
Jumpers (1972), Travesties (1974), Night and Day (1978), The Real Thing (1982), Arcadia
(1993), Indian Ink (1995) and The Invention of Love (1997).
His body of work includes writing for television, radio and screen. His film credits
include screenplays for Brazil (1985), Empire of the Sun (1987), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
are Dead (1990, which he also directed), The Russia House (1991) and Shakespeare in Love
(1998), for which he received an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Not only elevating Stoppard's profile, Shakespeare in Love introduced mainstream
audiences to Shakespeare and the thrill of live theatre. Of the film Charles Spencer of the United
Kingdom's Telegraph wrote, "Shakespeare in Love is an exhilarating celebration of the theatre to
which Stoppard has devoted his life, the mixture of Shakespearean verse and Stoppard's
distinctly modem jokes works like a dream ... the movie gloriously captures the thrill of love,
beautifully described in Stoppard's own phrase in the script as 'a riot in the heart."'
In the cast, Alley Theatre Resident Company Actors John Feltch, Elizabeth Heflin, and
John Tyson head up the cast as Henry, Annie and Max respectively. Alley newcomer Kate Levy
is Charlotte, along with Laura Heisler, who is Debbie, Robert Ross, who is Brodie, and Jonathan
Scarfe, who is Billy.
The Real Thing features scenic design by Neil Patel (nominated this year for a Drama
Desk Award for Dinner With Friends), lighting design by Pat Collins (this season's View
From the Bridge and Hay Fever), costume design by Karyl Newman (this season's View From
the Bridge and Lemonade), and sound design by Alley Resident Sound Designer Malcolm
The Alley Theatre, recipient of the 1996 Special Tony Award for outstanding regional
theatre, is a resident theatre company located in the heart of downtown Houston. Alley
productions have been seen throughout the United States and abroad. In 1998, the Alley Theatre
continued its commitment to international collaborations by joining Vanessa Redgrave and Corin
Redgrave's Moving Theatre of London to produce the world premiere production of Tennessee
Williams' early play Not About Nightingales at the Cottesloe Theatre in London. A
collaboration with the Moving Theatre and Royal National Theatre and directed by Trevor Nunn,
Not About Nightingales made its U.S. debut at the Alley Theatre in June 1998 and went on to
open at the Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway in the Spring of 1999. Featuring two
Alley actors in principal roles, Not About Nightingales was nominated for a Tony Award for
Best Play. The Alley began its 1998-99 season with the world premiere of an original and
unique musical event entitled The Civil War by Gregory Boyd, Jack Murphy and Frank
Wildhom (composer of Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel). The Civil War (Tony
Award nomination, Best Musical) also went on to a run at Broadway's St. James Theatre in
April, 1999, making it the second Alley offering to open on Broadway that season, and is
currently on a national tour.
For the 1999-2000 season, the Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd chose to
include a juxtaposition of the new, the contemporary and the classic-including a trio of new
plays by three writers making their Alley debuts: Lemonade, a world premiere by Eve Ensler,
As Bees in Honey Drown, a brilliant comedy by Douglas Carter Beane, and Margaret Edson's
1999 Pulitzer Prize winner Wit. Alongside these are three modem masters who helped define
20'h century playwriting: Arthur Miller, Nodl Coward and Edward Albee, whose new play The
Play About the Baby made its American premiere at the Alley in April 2000.
Tickets for The Real Thing are on sale at the Alley Theatre Box Office, 615 Texas
Avenue, or by calling 713-228-8421. Single tickets to preview performances are $19-35; single
tickets to performances on or after the Wednesday, May 24 opening range from $32-49. Groups
of 10 or more can purchase tickets at a discounted rate by calling 713-228-9341, ext. 346.
SPECIAL PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS
The Alley Theatre continues its efforts to make its productions available to broader
audiences. Three Pay-What-You-Can performances--offered to patrons who, for financial
reasons, may not otherwise be able to attend full-price performances at the Alley-are scheduled
during this run: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 21; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday,
May 25. Tickets are available for select seats, limit two per person----cash or check only-with a
$2 minimum for each ticket. Available in-person, day of the performance only.
The Alley Theatres continues its efforts to make its performances available to broader
audiences. There will be two Spanish translated performances scheduled for Sunday, May 28 at
2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Call 713-228-8421 for more information.
TALK TO THE ARTISTS
Alley patrons are invited to attend three post-show Talk Backs with the cast and members
of the artistic staff on Thursday, May 25, Wednesday, May 31, and Friday, June 2. In addition,
there will be an Alley Infonnance, or pre-perforinance presentation, on Friday, June 2, 2000.
SIGNING, CAPTIONING AND AUDIO DESCRIPTION
The Alley Theatre continues its efforts to make its productions available to patrons with
hearing and visual disabilities. The signed, captioned, and audio described performance is
scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 18. Infrared assisted listening devices are also available at
all performances for those with low hearing.
ALLEY THEATRE PRODUCES ANOTHER GEM FROM "SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE"
AUTHOR TOM STOPPARD, THE REAL THING
WHAT: THE REAL THING
BY TOM STOPPARD
DIRECTED BY GREGORY BOYD
The Real Thing is Tom Stoppard's most moving and surprising play - and the
most rewarding comedy of our time. The play begins with Max and Charlotte,
a couple whose marriage seems to be about to break up. But nothing one
sees on stage is the real thing, and some things are less real than others.
Charlotte is an actress who is appearing in a play about marriage written
by her husband Henry. Max is an actor married to an actress named Annie.
Both marriages are in danger because Henry and Annie have fallen in love.
But is it the real thing? The Real Thing is verbally brilliant,
intellectually brilliant, and above all, theatrically brilliant.
"The most bracing play anyone has written about love and marriage for years."
-----The New York Times.
WHEN: MAY 19 - JUNE 18, 2000
WHERE: ALLEY THEATRE, LARGE STAGE
615 TEXAS AVENUE
TICKETS: Tickets to The Real Thing can be purchased at the Alley Theatre
Box Office, 615 Texas Avenue, or by calling 713-228-8421. Tickets to
preview performances are $19 - $35; tickets to performances on or after
May 24 range from $32 - $49. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets at
a discounted rate by calling 713-228-9341, ext. 350.
615 Texas Avenue Houston, Texas 77002-2795 -
Administrative Offices: 713-228-9341, Fax: 713-222-6542
Box Office: 713-228-8421 - TTY- 713-220-5710
Continental Airlines is the official airline of the Alley Theatre.