After a 12 year run at Bailiwick Repertory, The Christmas Schooner sails again in a wonderfully revamped form at The Mercury Theater.
The Christmas Schooner relates the true story of German immigrants who risked their lives on the freezing waters of wintry Lake Michigan to bring Christmas trees to Chicago back in the 1880's.
The entire cast is excellent with lovely voices. 12 year old, Daniel Coonley (Karl Stossel) is very good in his role and not too saccharine sweet as some child actors can be.
Jim Sherman, (Gustav Stossel, Karl's grandfather) holds down the fort with his solid character study and really choked me up during the scene when he laments his dead son with a strangled cry of
“I miss him!”
Cory Goodrich (Ana Stossel, Karl's Mother) has a really rich, beautiful singing voice. Goodrich performs the role with grace and a great sense of humor. Goodrich’s character Ana Stossel, really is the heart and center of the entire production, the schooner, if you will, that propels her son, husband, and father in law to become a part of history by attempting these dangerous but much lauded heroic voyages to Chicago.
This is a really lovely holiday production to bring your family to, as it makes you feel a part of the true history of Christmas in Chicago. The Christmas Schooner also elucidates the history and magic of the Christmas tree itself as one of the things that helped families get through the long cold Chicago winters inspiring well wishes with it's beautiful shining lights and hopeful meaning.
At the end of the show the cast passes a branch of a Christmas tree hand to hand, right into the audience who continued to pass it along with the wish that each who touches it find love this holiday season.
The theater space at Mercury is really perfect for this show, as it is both intimate and expansive at the same time. I also loved that they served cookies, hot chocolate and Peppermint Schnapps in the lobby at intermission and that you can step straight out of the play and slip straight into the cozy confines of Cullin's Pub without going out in the cold.
I highly recommend making The Christmas Schooner at The Mercury Theater a new tradition in
Christmas Theater going for the entire family to enjoy together. For more information, visit www.mercurytheater.com.