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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 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.

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).

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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.

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.