With a specially commissioned work, A.D. Players offers Houston audiences another option in winter holiday stories when it will present the world premiere of The Christmas Shoes, a story about a boy and his present to his dying mother.
This stage adaptation by Jessica Lind Peterson is based on The New York Times best selling novel by Donna VanLiere and also deals with a lawyer who comes to realize that his workaholic ways have distanced him from his family. The lives of the boy and the man whose family life is breaking up intersect when the boy goes to buy his mother a pair of shoes so she'll have them when she goes to meet Jesus.
Despite these plot points, A. D. Players Artistic Director Kevin Dean says "It's not a sad play. It's a play where some sad things happen." This play fulfills their mission both in encouraging new works (The Hiding Place, Apollo 8) and in emphasizing the importance of human relationships, he says.
This will be the second play presented by A.D. Players since the hiatus brought about the shutdown of all theaters in Houston. Dean hopes that people will re-embrace the shared experience of "sitting in a dark room with strangers, watching a play. There's an energy that's there that you can't get sitting on your sofa, binge-watching something on Netflix ."
He acknowledged that "Christmas is always a challenge for us to program," given the elephant in the room with the Alley Theatre doing A Christmas Carol. What they were searching for was a good Christmas play that wasn't duplicating what other theaters were doing, he says.
They reached out to the book's author, asking for permission to adapt her work for a stage play and then commissioned Peterson for the adaptation.
Onstage in the two-act, 90-minutes with an intermission play will be a mix of actors (nine adults and two children) both familiar and new to the George stage. All of whom, Dean says, were very happy to get back to work.
Just as the lawyer father in the play is forced into an assessment of himself and his life after meeting the boy, audiences will be left with the question: What are your priorities? Dean says. "This play is super important because it reminds you of what's important in life. And I think that's sort of what the pandemic taught us. What is it that's really important to us.
"And it's just a charming story and a charming play. And it's Christmas!"
Performances are scheduled for November 26 through December 26 (with a preview performance November 24) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and some Sundays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at The George Theater, 5420 Westheimer. Masks are required and temperature checks at the door. For more information, call 713-526-2721 or visit adplayers.org. $25-$75.