“The House Without A Christmas Tree,” music by Ricky Ian Gordon, Librette by Royce Vavrek, 2:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at George R. Brown Convention Center
Here is a Christmas story with all the elements: A grouch, a young girl with hopes, a family without a tree and high hopes for something better.
The grouch is a father who won’t allow a Christmas tree in the house. He makes a bet that if one of the children can drink a glass “full” of water, he’ll give in. Addie, the youngster does it, but the father finds an excuse not to comply with the deal.
It finally comes out that the grouchiness of the Dad is due to the recent loss of his wife. Grandma points out that the loss wasn’t Addie’s fault, but the audience wonders what effect that will have. At school, the teacher wants to give their Christmas tree to someone who doesn’t have one. Addie wins the contest.
At night, alone, Dad turns on the Christmas tree lights and remembers his last Christmas with his wife. Grandma reminds him that his grief is not Addie’s fault.
Dad finally relents and gets a huge, beautiful pine tree for the living room. Dad crowns the tree with a star made by his wife.
What a lovely story! The whole thing takes about one hour and a half and demands and gets every minute of our attention. The actors/singers are splendid, especially the sopranos and the orchestra, thankfully located close to the audience on the right, was splendidly conducted and splendidly performed. It was a memorable even if brief musical experience.
If there is anything to criticize it is the lack of tuneful music and songs that are singable on the way out of the theater. One can’t always expect “La donna e mobile,” but it would be especially nice to remember this experience with a hummable tune that one can sing in the shower.
“The House Without A Christmas Tree” is the story of a man’s grief and how he handled it with the help of others. In the end, it is a story of healing, memory, and love.
The show can be seen Thursday, Monday and Dec. 14, 16 and 17.