Amid a myriad of up-and-coming residential, commercial and mixed-use developments, the Galleria area's makeover will soon include a new performance arts complex that will house a popular 47-year-old local thespian troupe.
Set to break ground in the summer, the A.D. Players' new home will include three separate auditoriums that accommodate 900 seats combined, as first noted in the Houston Business Journal. The building will be divided into a 450-seat theater, a 300-seat children's theater and a 150-seat black box theater.
With a budget of $17 million, the first phase will see the main stage come to life beginning in August. A $22 million second phase will complete the children's and black box theaters.
"As the first live theater venue in the vibrant and centrally located area of the Galleria, our new home will enhance our relationship with the community and enhance tourism," Irby Bair, director of development, tells CultureMap. "It will complete the area's amenities, for Houston and beyond."
"Although we live in a wonderful digital age, we want to ensure we don't lose the cultural, foundational pull of the arts that tells our story — which is what theater does so well."
The Christian-based theater group revealed the construction plans for the facility, located on Westheimer Road close to Yorktown Drive, at its May fundraising luncheon. The construction costs will be underwritten through the A.D. Players capital campaign fund, which recently received a $2 million gift from the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation.
"We are a community minded theater group," Bair adds. "As a professional theater company, we've worked very hard to present work that's at the professional level. The new space will enable us to have more outreach so we can share the positive, changing and inspiring qualities of live theater."
The additional square footage means the company will be able expand its programming, both qualitatively and quantitatively, Blair says. The capacity of A.D. Players will double, jumping from being able to serve 100,000 people per year to serving 200,000 people per year.
The venue will be christened after the late Lorraine Malcom George, husband of company founder, Golden Globe-nominated actor Jeannette Clift George. Construction executive and renaissance man Lorraine George built many sets for the A.D. Players, Theatre Under the Stars and Alley Theatre, and was a passionate advocate for all artistic genres.
At more than three acres, the parcel of land, purchased in 2003 from the Bechtel family, was a strategic move to consolidate six performance locations into one plus a multi-level parking garage for more than 180 guests and employees. The crescent-shaped design, which bears a resemblance to the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, was imagined by Gabriel Architects. Mission Construction Company has been hired for the execution.
"The curved shape of the building acts like a welcome hub to a lobby that will be shared by all three theaters," Bair says. "Although we live in a wonderful digital age, we want to ensure we don't lose the cultural, foundational pull of the arts that tells our story — which is what theater does so well."