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  Play Details

The Christmas Schooner

Mercury Theater
3745 N. Southport Ave Chicago

The Christmas Schooner is based on a beloved Chicago story. The 'Rouse Simmons', a Great Lakes schooner, was known as "The Christmas Tree Ship." Its captain risked life and limb to transport fir trees from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Chicago's German immigrants during the late 19th century. A timely and stirring tale of love and loss, The Christmas Schooner reminds us of tradition, and our responsibility to celebrate the living while honoring our heritage.

Thru - Dec 31, 2011



Price: $30-$49.50

Show Type: Musical

Box Office: 773-325-1700

Running Time: 2hrs; one initermission

www.mercurytheaterchicago.com


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  The Christmas Schooner Reviews

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"... Well, Scrooge is an import. But "Schooner" — listen up, if you are new to town — is a locally created piece that celebrates both the chaotic history of our great city and the new arrivals who built the place, even though they missed home terribly during the holiday season. It is a show that reminds us of the oft-neglected maritime past of this community, and its geographic and cultural links to those up north in Michigan and Wisconsin who forested and hauled the timber for all kinds of Chicago purposes."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...After a 12-year run at Bailiwick Repertory, the seasonal favorite “The Christmas Schooner” seemed to have run its course. But L. Walter Stearns, the artistic director of the Mercury Theater, has given the musical new life in a production that pleases in every way."
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Mary Houlihan


Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Reeger's script serves well enough, though, and Shannon's songs in the hands of director L. Walter Stearns, choreographer Brenda Didier, and a sturdy cast make the initial bout of piety worth sitting through."
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Tony Adler


Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"... After 12 years' residence in the barnlike auditorium that was the Bailiwick Arts Center mainstage, this likewise homegrown musical by John Reeger and Julie Shannon now resides in the cozy Mercury Theatre. The changes are evident: Jacqueline and Richard Penrod's Wagnerian scenic design has been compressed to fit the former nickelodeon's narrow stage, requiring additional music to facilitate clearance of the modules, and even body-microphones cannot fully overcome the echo generated by the room's exposed-brick walls. On the other hand, Eugene Dizon has assembled an eight-piece orchestra, complete with woodwinds and classical harp, making for a smoother sound to Shannon's intensely-varied array of distinctive melodies."
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Mary Shen Barnidge


Talkin Broadway - Recommended

"...Even if Reeger's book lets the danger of the voyages be overpowered by holiday cheer—and Stearns's good natured presentational direction seems to acknowledge that we all know the story anyway —there are sentiments beneath the story told here that are not so facile. Peter Stossel explains to his family that good fortune—the success his business has achieved, for example—is a gift, must never be taken for granted, and may be accompanied by greater sacrifices at some other time. Good fortune and glad tidings must be passed on to others—a philosophy symbolized by the German custom of passing a branch of the evergreen tree, and captured in the song "The Blessings of the Branch." If taken seriously, it's a challenging message of generosity delivered in the package of this traditional holiday musical."
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John Olson


Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"... John Reeger and Julie Shannon’s annual holiday treat sails into Chicago again, docking at the new Mercury Theatre. This year the production looks and sounds even more professional, thanks to to L. Walter Stearns and Eugene Dizon’s enthusiastic artistic staging and musical direction. Add to the mix a large, talented cast, a lush-sounding, eight-member onstage orchestra (complete with harp) and Brenda Didier’s athletic choreography and costumes, and you have a definitive yuletide production."

Colin Douglas


Chicago Theater Beat - Highly Recommended

"... Chicago has long deserved and, for 16 years now, has thoroughly enjoyed its own Christmas musical, a characteristically commercial celebration of entrepreneurial and meteorological risk-taking. A show about our slaughterhouses wouldn’t have delivered the right holiday cheer – but The Christmas Schooner reflects our surprisingly sentimental, hardscrabble, tough-loving town at its well-earned best."

Lawrence Bommer


ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...The Mercury Theater’s production is a polished, tightly presented version of the Chicago traditional Holiday show. it works so well in the intimate jewel-box of a theatre on Southport Avenue. Yes, put The Christmas Schooner on your “must see” list for the holidays. If you’ve seen Schooner in the past, come again to see a musically enhanced yet still movingly emotional version that will enrich your holiday enjoyment. Make Schooner a family tradition."
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Tom Williams


Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended

"...Just in case you don't know, a "schooner" is a type of large sailing vessel for fishing or to carry cargo. Written by Chicago actor and playwright John Reeger and composer Julie Shannon, "The Christmas Schooner" is based upon the Rouse Simmons, a Great Lakes schooner know as the "Christmas Tree Ship". November 22 marked the 99th anniversary of the sinking of the real Christmas schooner that was carrying Christmas trees back to Chicago from Wisconsin, killing all 16 aboard. Bringing this tragic but ultimately heartwarning tale back to life, "The Christmas Schooner" is setting sail again at the Mercury Theatre in Chicago this holiday season, and offering a different sort of holiday treat."

Sally Jo Osborne


Chicago Now - Highly Recommended

"...Under the direction of L. Walter Stearns, the entire cast put their heart and soul into creating a holiday memory. The show glides along with Christmas caroler pleasantry sprinkled with unforgettable scenes of movement. Stearns stages a tumultuous storm with wonderful dramatic urgency. Choreographer Brenda Didier infuses some dance surprises into the old-world feel. Didier livens up the harbor scene with some energetic and festive movement. Especially on a fairly small stage area, the dancing is a high-spirited spectacle."
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Katy Walsh


Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"... While the songs in this musical are not ones that you will hum going out the door, each one brings the storyline forward and many are loving warm and sweet words that mean a great deal to what Reeger and Shannon wanted this story to be about: love, honor, caring and Christmas ( tradition)! This is a production that you need to fit into your busy schedules..."
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Alan Bresloff


   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the opening night judges of The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee. The entire production is then eligible for nomination for awards at the end of the season.
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