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Alley Theatre Announces Cast and Creative Team for David Ivesí Venus in Fur
- 9/25/2013

September 25, 2013

Rodi Franco, Director of Communications (
Lauren Pelletier, Public Relations Associate (

Alley Theatre Announces Cast and Creative Team for David Ives’ Sexy, Provocative Comedy Venus in Fur
- Venus in Fur Runs October 11 through November 10 on Neuhaus Stage

HOUSTON – Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd announces the cast and creative team for Venus in Fur. Brandon Weinbrenner, Alley Theatre Resident Assistant Director, makes his Alley Theatre directorial debut. Venus in Fur features Michael Bakkensen as Thomas, returning to the Alley Theatre after the world premiere of Ether Dome, and Nicole Rodenburg as Vanda, making her Alley Theatre debut.

Theatrical mastermind David Ives’ sexy, provocative comedy was a 2012 Tony nominee. Venus in Fur is an electrifying game of cat and mouse between a young actress and a demanding playwright-director that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, seduction and power, love and sex.  Set in a rehearsal studio, Venus in Fur pits Vanda, a talented and hungry actress who is determined to win the lead role, against the controlling writer-director Thomas.  In this fast-moving 90 minute play, Thomas is drawn into reading his own script with the seducing and enigmatic Vanda, producing a sizzling exploration of sexual control and attraction. 

In Ives’ play, the script that Thomas has written is an adaptation of “Venus in Furs,” the 1870 erotic novella by Leopold Sacher-Masoch.  This novella became infamous in the 19th Century when the author’s last name inspired Austrian psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing to coin the term “masochism.” 

Called “a seriously smart and very funny stage seminar on the destabilizing nature of sexual desire” (New York Times), “the play is a tug of war for power between a man and a woman” (New York Daily News).  “Role-playing takes on a whole new meaning” (New York Post).  This “don’t miss” play is described by the Wall Street Journal as “deadly serious” and “madly funny.” “You won't see a funnier play this season, or a smarter one. (WSJ)Strictly Adults Only.  Sexual Situations.  Language.

Venus in Fur features scenic design by Takeshi Kata and costume design by Tricia Barsamian. Lighting design is by Matthew Richards with sound design by Matt Starritt, Fight Director Leraldo Alzaldúa and dialect, voice and text coach Pamela Prather.

Venus in Fur
, by David Ives, directed by Brandon Weinbrenner, begins performances Friday, October 11 opens officially Wednesday, October 16, and runs through November 10, 2013 on the Neuhaus Stage.

David Ives is perhaps best known for his evening of one-act plays All In The Timing, he has been included in the “Best Short Plays” series seven times, and for his drama Venus in Fur, which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. His plays include New Jerusalem: The Interrogation Of Baruch De Spinoza; The School For Lies, adapted from Molière’s The Misanthrope; The Liar, adapted from Corneille; Time Flies; and Is He Dead?, adapted from Mark Twain. He has also translated Feydeau’s A Flea In Her Ear and Yasmina Reza’s A Spanish Play. A former Guggenheim Fellow in playwriting and a graduate of The Yale School of Drama, he lives in New York City.

Michael Bakkensen (Thomas) Alley Theatre credits include Ether Dome. Broadway credits include Noises Off, Festen as u/s and The Man Who Came to Dinner. Off-Broadway credits include RX at Primary Stages, Out of Iceland with Culture Project, The Secret of Mme. Bonnard’s Bath at Kirk, The Paris Letter as u/s at Roundabout, Tales of Doomed Love at West End, Waxing West at Lark and Alarms with Here. Regional credits include Jamie in Long Day's Journey into Night at Actors Theater of Louisville; The School of Night at Mark Taper Forum; the U.S. premiere of Brian Friel’s The Home Place at Guthrie; All's Well That Ends Well at Shakespeare Theatre, DC; also Arena Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, Hartford Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, ACT in Seattle, the Alliance, Alabama and NJ Shakespeare Festivals and Hangar. Film credits include On The Slope and Memoria Mortalis (Sundance). Television credits include Elementary, Deception, The Good Wife, Royal Pains, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Guiding Light, Stage on Screen and upcoming web series Mental Issues. Education includes MFA from UCSD.

Nicole Rodenburg
(Vanda) is making her Alley Theatre debut. Favorite theatre credits include Cherie in Bus Stop at Huntington Theatre with director Nicholas Martin, the World Premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s award-winning play The Whale at Denver Center for Performing Arts, as well as the World Premieres of Allison Moore’s Slasher at ATL/Humana Festival and Sheri Wilner’s The End at Guthrie Theater. Last fall she starred as Alice in You Can’t Take It With You opposite screen legend Robert Vaughn at GEVA Theater. TV and Film credits include Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central and The Girl’s Guide to Depravity  on Cinemax as a series regular. Training includes BFA from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program. Nicole currently studies with master teacher Michael Howard in New York City.

Brandon Weinbrenner (Director) makes his Alley Theatre directorial debut with Venus in Fur.  He is the Resident Assistant Director at the Alley Theatre, having served as assistant director on You Can't Take It With YouThe HollowSherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club, The Elephant Man, and A Few Good Men. Past theatrical credits include serving as the Bret C. Harte Directing Fellow at Berkeley Rep, producing the 2013 Out of the Loop Fringe Festival in his hometown of Dallas, Texas, and acting in productions at the Guthrie Theater, The Children’s Theatre Co., Illusion Theater, WaterTower Theatre, and Undermain Theatre. Brandon is a graduate of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Acting Training Program.

Takeshi Kata
 (Scenic Design) returns to the Alley having previously designed A Few Good Men, Red, The Farnsworth Invention, Subject to Fits, The Clean House and Orson’s Shadow. New York credits include Outside People at Vineyard, Adding Machine, Orson’s Shadow at Barrow Street Theatre, Storefront Church, Through a Glass Darkly, Port Authority, Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow at Atlantic Theatre Co., Doris to Darlene at Playwrights Horizons and Gone Missing at The Civilians. Regionally Kata has worked at American Players Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Dallas Theatre Center, Ford’s Theatre, Geffen Playhouse, Goodman Theatre, Hartford Stage, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Nashville Opera, The Old Globe, Skylight Opera, Steppenwolf Theatre Co., Williamstown Theatre Festival and Yale Repertory Theatre. Kata has won an Obie award and has been nominated for a Drama Desk and Barrymore awards. He is an Assistant Professor at University of Southern California, School of Dramatic Arts.

Tricia Barsamian
(Costume Design) Credits include The Hollow, Black Coffee and The Mousetrap at Alley Theatre; Yank! A WWII Love Story at York Theatre Company; Sistas: The Musical at St. Luke’s Theatre; The Sunshine Boys, Little Shop of Horrors and Fiddler on the Roof at John W. Engeman Theater; With Glee at Prospect Theatre Company; and Just in Time at Lucille Lortel Theater. Associate/assistant costume design credits include Annie  on Broadway, Hands on a Hardbody on Broadway, Taylor Swift Speak Now Tour, Wonderland on Broadway, Sondheim on Sondheim on Broadway and The Marriage of Bette and Boo at Roundabout Theatre Company and Wicked National Tour. Tricia holds a MFA from NYU and a BFA from North Carolina School of the Arts. 

Matthew Richards
(Lighting Designer) Broadway credits include Ann. Off-Broadway credits include Atlantic Theater Company, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Ensemble Studio Theater, Lincoln Center, The Play Company, Playwrights Horizons, Primary Stages, MCC, Rattlestick, Second Stage and Theatreworks USA. Regional credits include Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Alliance Theatre, Arena Stage, Baltimore’s Center Stage, Bay Street, Cincinnati Playhouse, Cleveland Play House, Dallas Theater Center, Ford’s Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Hartford Stage, Huntington Theatre, The Old Globe, Shakespeare Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Yale Repertory Theatre. Education includes University of Massachusetts and The Yale School of Drama.

Matt Starritt
(Sound Designer) is a freelance sound designer for both theatre and dance and a writer from Seattle. He is currently the sound design associate at Seattle Repertory Theatre and is a part-time lecturer for the UW’s School of Drama. In Seattle he has designed for Book-it Repertory Theatre, The Cherdonna and Lou Show, Intiman and the Intiman Theatre Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, Waxie Moon and was a founding member of the Washington Ensemble Theatre. Nationally he has designed for the Alley Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Cornerstone Theater Company, Illusion Theatre and South Coast Repertory.

Pamela Prather
 (Dialect & Vocal Coach) returns to the Alley Theatre after coaching You Can't Take It With You, The Hollow, The Elephant Man, Death of a SalesmanBlack CoffeeNoises OffBoeing-BoeingThe Gershwins’ An American in ParisOthello and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Other credits include Hartford Stage Company, Yale Repertory Theatre, Primary Stages, Underwood Theatre, The Play Company, The Edge Theatre Co., New York Classical Theatre, St. Ann’s Warehouse DUMBO, Dance Theatre Workshop and Hampton’s Shakespeare Festival. Pamela is currently an Assistant Professor of Theatre at SUNY Purchase College and has also taught at Yale School of Drama, NYU and UCLA. She received her MFA in Acting from UCLA and is certified in Fitzmaurice Voicework®, Laughter Yoga and Prana Yoga. Pamela is the founder of “Laughing Voice”

Leraldo Alzaldúa
(Fight Director) is a Houston-based actor, director and fight director. He is a certified teacher of stage combat with the Society of American Fight Directors. As an actor and fight director, he has worked at the Alley Theatre on A Few Good Men, The Mountaintop, Peter Pan, Treasure Island, Hitchcock Blonde, Wait Until Dark, Black Comedy, Equus and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has also worked with the Houston Shakespeare Festival, Theatre Under the Stars, Stages Repertory Theatre, Mildred’s Umbrella, Ensemble Theatre Opera in the Heights and Catastrophic Theatre. He has done voice-over work in the video game Starship Troopers: Mobile Infantry and in anime for A.D. Vision Studios/ Sentai Filmworks. Internationally he has done voice-over work and motion capture performance in Tokyo, Japan, for the CG film Starship Troopers: Invasion (Sony Pictures, released last summer). He has also worked in Stockholm and Uppsala, Sweden, as a motion capture fight director and performer. He is currently an anime voice-over director for Sentai Filmworks and was formerly an adjunct professor of movement at the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance.

The Alley Theatre is a nationally recognized Theatre Company based in Houston, Texas.  The Alley was founded in 1947 and is one of the few US companies with a commitment to resident artists. Under the direction of Artistic Director Gregory Boyd and Managing Director Dean R. Gladden, the Alley creates a wide-ranging repertoire of innovative productions of classics, neglected modern plays, and new works in its 11 production season. The Alley has brought its productions to Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, 40 American cities, to Berlin, Paris, and St. Petersburg, as well as to major European festivals (including two in one season at the Venice Biennale). A recipient of the Special Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, the Alley has premiered plays by Edward Albee, Horton Foote, Robert Wilson, Rajiv Joseph. Kenneth Lin,  Eve Ensler, Keith Reddin, and Herbert Siguenza, as well as creating the premieres of the musicals Jekyll & Hyde, The Civil War, and Wonderland. Other notable collaborations include The Roman Plays (with Vanessa Redgrave), Hydriotaphia (by Tony Kushner), and Danton's Death. The Alley’s productions are built and rehearsed in the Alley Theatre Center for Theatre Production – a 75,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the theatres themselves and are performed on the 824-seat Hubbard Stage and the 310-seat Neuhaus Stage. The Alley continues to provide its audiences with thought-provoking, diverse and transformative theatre.

Venus in Fur is generously sponsored Neuhaus Stage Season Sponsor Randall H. Jamail. The Alley Theatre is supported by the 2013-2014 season sponsor United Airlines, the official airline of the Alley Theatre.

Tickets to Venus in Fur start at $26. All tickets to Venus in Fur are available for purchase at, at the Alley Theatre Box Office, 615 Texas Avenue, or by calling 713.220.5700. Groups of 10 or more can receive special concierge services and select discounts by calling 713.220.5700 and asking for the group sales department. Discounted tickets are offered to military personnel and their immediate families. Tickets can be purchased through the Alley Theatre Box Office or online using the promo code: MILITARY. Must show proof of service when picking up tickets at Will Call. Discounted tickets are offered to current high school or college students and one guest. Tickets can be purchased through the Alley Theatre Box Office or online using the promo code: STUDENT. Must show valid student ID picking up tickets at Will Call.

Sunday, October 20, 2:30 p.m.
The Alley Theatre offers access services for our deaf or hard of hearing and sight-impaired patrons. Audio Description is provided for each Hubbard Stage production and Open Captioning is offered for every Hubbard Stage and Neuhaus Stage production. Please stop by the Box Office prior to the show so that we can be sure we have seated you correctly.

Tuesday, October 29, 7:30 p.m.
Members of the cast return to the stage following the performance to take questions from the audience. TalkBacks are led by a member of the Alley Artistic Staff.

Thursday, November 7, 7:30 p.m.
Scene, Alley Theatre’s new young professionals group, brings together people in their 20s and 30s interested in engaging with the Theatre through attending performances, social events and exclusive behind the scenes opportunities. Scene membership includes three performances, pre-show happy hours and post-show TalkBacks with Alley actors and artists. For questions or more information visit or contact Veronica Kannan at

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Copyright 2015 Alley Theatre. All rights reserved. Now performing at University of Houston (park at 4116 Elgin, Houston, 77004).
Center for Theatre Production and Administrative Offices: 615 Texas Avenue, Houston Texas 77002.  Box office: 713.220.5700