I saw this show last year. I knew I had to come back and bring my father. It’s a manly musical...
The Mercury Theater presents THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER A MUSICAL. On this balmy December 1st, I spotted several Christmas trees tied to car rooftops. Many Chicagoans utilized the nice weather to minimize the potential nasty commute in moving a Christmas tree. Good or bad weather, we don’t realize how easy we have it in “decking the halls with boughs of holly.” Back in the late 1800’s, ships braved the unpredictable wintery Lake Michigan to transport trees from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Chicago.
Captain Peter Stossel wants to spread holiday cheer. He convinces his crew to confront the unknown Great Lake treachery to deliver trees to strangers. They think he’s crazy but they do it for the money. His wife is furious with him but he goes anyway. The schooner arrives to the touching fanfare of people looking for a Christmas miracle. O Tannebaum! Inspired by the brave voyages of sailors bringing holiday cheer to German immigrants, THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER A MUSICAL is anchored in old-fashioned holiday spirit.
The best part of this show is it is based in truth. Men lost their lives in shipwrecks while trying to deliver Christmas trees. It’s sad but historic. Playwright John Reeger penned an authentic story about an honorable Sea Captain and his loyalty to his family, his crew and his mission. It’s the reality of life on the water that gives this show a solid and testosterone-charged framework. The late Julie Shannon added in the musical soundtrack for some robust, hearty crooning by the sailors. Karl Hamilton (Peter) and his first mate Travis Taylor (Steve) lead the rugged harmonizing. Shannon balances the guys‘ vigorous resolute with softer, sentimental tunes sung by the ladies. “The blessings of the branch” and “what is it about the water?” are haunting melodies and lyrics. Cory Goodrich (Alma) brings the womanly touch with a powerhouse singing voice. Her duet with Benjamin Parkhill (Karl) is a lighter, lovable moment between mom and son. Parkhill plays precocious with sparkle and sass. He and a steadfast James Wilson Sherman (Gustav) bring the homespun humor.
There are a lot of holiday shows vying for Chicago’s attention. Mostly, the familiar and tried and true. To set sail on a new, unique, holiday tradition, THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER THE MUSICAL is most definitely see-worthy.
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes an intermission
At Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport
Book written by John Reeger
Music and lyrics by Julie Shannon
Musical direction by Eugene Dizon
Directed by L. Walter Stearns
Wednesdays at 2pm and 7:30pm
Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 2pm and 7:30pm
Sundays at 1pm
Thru December 30th
Buy Tickets at www.mercurytheaterchicago.com