In fine holiday tradition The Christmas Schooner has once again set sail, this time for its third year at Mercury Theater after a twelve year run at Baliwick. Inspired by the 1912 shipwreck of “The Christmas Tree ship” in Lake Michigan, manned by Captain Rouse Simmons, The Christmas Schooner is a heartwarming story catapulted by strong family bonds and Christmas spirit.

Written by John Reeger and composer Julie Shannon, The Christmas Schooner is the tale of a brave sea captain of German decent who decides to ship Christmas trees from Michigan to Chicago through the treacherous winter storms. He is prompted to do so after receiving a letter from his cousin who tells him Christmas is not the same without a Christmas tree.  Tannebaums (fir trees) have always been a tradition in Germany and the many Germans in Chicago have not had access to them since leaving their homeland. There are plenty of trees in Michigan, so Captain Peter Stossel, along with his father Gustav, set sail to Chicago in the hopes that they will find buyers for the many trees they have bundled aboard. To the crew’s surprise, hundreds of Chicagoans are waiting for them, having already dubbed their schooner as “The Christmas Tree Ship”.

Karl Hamilton is just wonderful as “Captain Peter Stossel” generating a true genuineness in his role as a family man, a beloved sea captain and as the man who will sacrifice in order to make a difference. At the same time, Cory Goodrich (“Alma Stossel”) and James Wilson Sherman (“Gustav Stossel”) are also superb all the way around. Sherman exudes charm and kindness becoming the grandfather every child would be lucky to have. A very strong supporting cast is also key in making this such a delightful production with great performances by Travis Taylor as “Steve”, the Captain’s best friend and right hand man, Elizabeth Haley and Brennan Dougherty who plays “Karl Stossel”.

The Christmas Schooner blends classic Christmas songs with original numbers. In this lively production, we are treated to an intriguing story, polished vocal performances, big choruses and a handful of well-choreographed dance routines. Like it or not, audience members cannot help but be injected with a massive dose of Christmas spirit. This is a show that anyone of any age can thoroughly enjoy.

Performances are running at Mercury Theater (3745 N. Southport Ave) through December 29th. If it isn’t already, make The Christmas Schooner your new holiday tradition. For tickets and/or more information visit or call 773-325-1700.


Published in Theatre Reviews

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