Video Review: The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theatre

“What’s a Schooner”, I asked myself as I read the title of the press release.  Oh.  It’s a big boat.  And this is the story of how the first Christmas trees made it to Chicago.

But the show is more than that.  It’s about family and unconditional love and helping your fellow man.  It’s about sharing our blessings and not keeping them.  The Christmas Schooner was a delightful, moving and heart-warming holiday show that I recommend for the whole family.  Watch my video review above and let me know what you think.

For more information, find excerpts from the press release below:

“A grand family tradition!” The Chicago Tribune

 Directed by L. Walter Stearns, with Musical Direction by Eugene Dizon and Choreography by Brenda Didier



Chicago’s Holiday Musical Commemorates 100 Years Since the Fateful Voyage 

Chicago, IL- THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER returns to the Mercury Theater (3745 N. Southport, Chicago), from November 23 through December 30, 2012.  The whole family will enjoy this heart-warming story of the first Christmas tree ship and the family who risked their lives to fill Chicago with the Christmas spirit. This critically acclaimed production features a powerful, moving story, an exquisite score of original music and traditional holiday favorites, and a company of 25 actors and musicians.  This year’s production commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the historic voyage of the Christmas Tree Ship.

 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 23rd 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. Last year the Mercury revived the tradition with a full orchestra and an all-star cast, garnering a “Best Production” nomination for the 2012 Jeff Awards. The Chicago Tribune calls this show “a grand family tradition” and “a sacred part of a Chicago Christmas”. The Chicago Sun-Times raved, “an inheritance to be treasured”, “pleases in every way”, “highly recommended”. A timely and uplifting tale of love and loss, THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER reminds us of tradition, and our responsibility to celebrate the living while honoring our heritage.

THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is written by Chicago favorites 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 Jeff Award winner Jim Sherman as “Gustav Stossel.”. The production is once again helmed by the Jeff-award winning team of L. Walter Stearns (director), Eugene Dizon (musical director) and Brenda Didier (choreographer).  The scenic design is by Jacqueline and Richard Penrod, with costume design by Carol Blanchard and lighting design by Jason Epperson.

Performances are from November 23 to December 30, 2012.  The schedule is: Wednesdays at 2pm and 7:30pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 7:30pm and Sundays at 1pm.  Tickets range from $29 to $59. Groups of 10 or more receive discounts of up to 50%.  For tickets and information contact the Mercury Theater at 773-325-1700 or



Jen Knoedl is Executive Producer of JenChicago Productions, as well as its enthusiastic video host. Click here to find out about sponsorship and partnering opportunities regarding travel, Chicago and entrepreneurship. Tweet Jen at @JenTravelsLife

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