THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER Opens 12/4 at Mercury Theater Chicago
The much beloved Chicago tradition of the presentation of THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER returns to Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport, previewing November 27, opening Wednesday, December 4 at 7:30 p.m., and running through December 29, 2013. The whole family will enjoy this heart-warming musical story of the first Christmas tree ship and the family who risked their lives to fill Chicago with the Christmas spirit. Hailed as "A sacred part of a Chicago Christmas!" by The Chicago Tribune, the production features a powerful, moving story, an exquisite score of original music and traditional holiday favorites, and a company of 25 actors and musicians. The production is helmed by the Jeff-award winning team of L. Walter Stearns (Director), Eugene Dizon (Musical Director) and Brenda Didier (Choreographer).
The shipwreck of the Rouse Simmons, known as 'The Christmas Tree Ship,' served as inspiration for THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER. Her captain and crew risked the notoriously violent winter lake to bring Christmas trees from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Chicago's German immigrants. Each year, Captain Herman Schuenemann would sell trees right off of the ship at the Clark Street Docks, and was known to give free trees to the needy. On November 23 1912, the ship was swept up in a terrible storm. It was not until 59 years later that she was discovered, lying in 170 feet of water. Today the Rouse Simmons and her cargo of 5,500 well stacked trees remain preserved in the cold, fresh waters of Lake Michigan and her legend has grown to mythical proportions. The Blaine Nickelodeon - the silent film theater that now houses the Mercury - opened that very same year.
THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER has entertained audiences in hundreds of productions including a twelve year run at Chicago's Bailiwick Repertory Theatre. A timely and uplifting tale of love, THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is a poignant ode to the rich legacy of Chicago and a reminder of our responsibility to celebrate the living while honoring our heritage. In 2011, Mercury Theater Chicago revived THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER with a full orchestra and an all-star cast, garnering a "Best Production" nomination for the 2012 Jeff Awards. The production has been called "A grand family tradition!" by The Chicago Tribune and "An inheritance to be treasured...Highly recommended!" by the Chicago Sun-Times. Time Out Chicago Kids says that "A slice of Chicago history and an emotion-packed, Christmas-themed tale of redemption give the Mercury Theater's production of THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER all the trappings of a family holiday tradition in the making!"
THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is written by John Reeger (book) and Julie Shannon (music and lyrics) and stars returning cast members Karl Hamilton as "Peter Stossel," Jeff Award winner Cory Goodrich as "Alma Stossel," and James Wilson Sherman as "Gustav Stossel." Rounding out the crew on this year's schooner voyage are Kelly Anne Clark, Brennan Dougherty, Jaclyn Dougherty, Elizabeth Haley, Sage Harper, Christian Libonati, Leah Morrow, Michael Pacas, Eric Parker, Thom Shea, Travis Taylor and Sean Thomas.
The scenic design is by Jacqueline and Richard Penrod, with costume design by Carol Blanchard and lighting design by Jason Epperson.
Mercury Theater Chicago is an intimate jewel-box in the heart of a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and shopping just steps from Wrigley Field. It adjoins two restaurants; Cullen's Bar and Grill and Deleece, who offer dining and libations before and after the show.