Wednesday, December 3, 2014

OPENING: The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater

Tonight ChiIL Mama and Sage will be reviewing at opening night of The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater. We like our holiday sugar and spice with a dash of the macabre, so we're very much looking forward to this tale of ship wrecks and evergreens. Check back for our full review shortly. The Christmas Schooner has been delighting audiences for hundreds of productions including a twelve year run at Chicago's Bailiwick Repertory Theatre but this will be our first time to see it!

LIVELY NEW CAST OF THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER sets sail at Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Avenue. 

A new cast of award-winning actors are set to bring new life to Chicago’s beloved holiday musical THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER, running November 26 through December 28, 2014. Jeff Award winner Stef Tovar takes the helm as the Schooner’s new captain, alongside Brianna Borger as the Captain’s wife Alma Stossel. 

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 Chicago'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 will be brought new life by cast members Jeff Award winner Stef Tovar as Peter Stossel, Brianna Borger as Alma Stossel, and James Wilson Sherman as Gustav Stossel. Rounding out the crew on this year's schooner voyage are William Anderson, Brian Bohr, Kelly Anne Clark, Jaclyn Dougherty, Elizabeth Lanza, Leah Morrow, Michael Pacas, Eric Parker, Jim Rank and Daniel Smeriglio. The scenic design is by Jacqueline and Richard Penrod, with costume design by Carol J. Blanchard and lighting design by Jason Epperson.

The beautifully renovated Mercury Theater Chicago is an intimate jewel box of a theater in the heart of the Southport Corridor, a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and boutiques just steps from Wrigley Field. A delightful theater destination, Mercury Theater Chicago takes care of its guests from the moment they arrive with valet service, dining at its adjoining restaurant, Deleece, and post-show libations at Cullen’s Bar & Grill. Under the leadership of Executive Director L. Walter Stearns, Mercury Theater Chicago will follow THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER with the devilishly delightful THE ADDAMS FAMILY– THE MUSICAL (...which we also can NOT wait to see here at ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows!!).

The performance schedule for THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is Wednesdays at 7:30pm, Thursdays at 3:00pm and 7:30pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm and Sundays at 3:00pm and 7:30pm.

Individual tickets range from $25-$65, and are available online at, over the phone at 773.325.1700, or in person at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago.

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