For the 18th year, the Alley Theatre is staging its Summer Chills production, a seasonal, lighthearted whodunit that continues to entertain audiences.

Returning to the works of Agatha Christie, the Alley company tackles Black Coffee in 2012, one of the more popular plays from the mistress of mystery. Set in a British manor house during the 1920s, Coffee dissects the inner workings of a well-to-do family suffering under a conniving and inventive patriarch. When Sir Claud Amory (played by Alley actor James Belcher) turns up dead, the Belgian crime solver Hercule Poirot (one of Christie's most famous characters) enters the scene.

With its breadth of interesting and complex characters, Coffee has stood the test of time--as enjoyable a mystery as it was when it was first staged more than 80 years ago.

Black Coffee is playing at Alley through August 5, 2012.

Another summer tradition at Alley is the Houston Young Playwrights Exhange. Now in its 16th consecutive year, HYPE selects plays penned by local teens to undergo development in a professional forum guided by the theater's staff. This year six plays were selected for production. The result will be two days of staged readings of those plays at Alley, August 3 and 4.Click here for more information.

Meanwhile Alley is preparing for a major 2012-13 season that will include 10 productions.

November (August 24-September 23) is David Mamet's over-the-top take on American politics set against the re-election campaign of a corrupt and inept U.S. president.

Death of a Salesman (September 28-October 28) is Arthur Miller's renowned, Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece that tells the sad tale of working class family man Willie Loman.

The Mountaintop (January 11-February 3) is set in the Lorraine Motel on April 3, 1968 and reimagines the last day of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life.

Clybourne Park (January 18-February 17, 2013) is a provocative Tony Award-winning comedy that deftly explores the progression of the racial divide.

A Few Good Men (March 1-24, 2013) by Aaron Sorkin is a gripping courtroom drama about Marines accused of murder. The play ran for 500 performances and later became an Oscar-nominated film.

The Elephant Man (April 12-May 5, 2013) tells the story of the real "elephant man" John Merrick who went from sideshow oddity to the toast of London high society.

Warrior Class (May 3-June 2, 2013) is a new play by writer Kenneth Lin that centers on Julius Wieshan Lee, a New York politician with his eyes set on higher office. But when a figure from his past threatens to reveal something about Lin, the politician has to decide what he'll do to keep it quiet.

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club (May 24-June 23) is the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic following the famous detective on the case of a diabolical plot threatening Europe.

Alley will also once again stage its classic productions of  Christmas Carol and The Santaland Diaries over the holidays.