Heartwarming and heartbreaking, the Mercury Theater’s annual Christmas Schooner musical brims with all the love, laughter, joy, charity and gratitude of the holiday season. A true Chicago Christmas story harkened from Lake Michigan’s murky depths, Christmas Schooner is inspired by the early 20th-century heroic voyages and subsequent sinking of the Rouse Simmons, a ship that sailed 300 miles from Manistique, Michigan, to Chicago delivering Christmas trees to city dwellers.
Set after the Great Chicago Fire, this Jeff Award-nominated musical portrays the sacrifices German immigrants Peter and Alma Stossel and their ship’s crew made to transport fir trees across the stormy waters. Minimalist, historically accurate backdrops and an accomplished live orchestra set the stage for the 16-member cast to tell their tale through lively songs, stirring solos, tear-jerking dialogue and comedic one-liners. Theatergoers quickly grow to love this brave, inland seafaring family while learning all about German holiday traditions such as the tannenbaum, St. Nikolas and Knocking Nights.
During intermission, patrons enjoy rich hot cocoa and Bavarian cream-filled donuts in the lobby of the intimate, renovated 1912 theater that anchors the artsy Southport Corridor neighborhood. Ticket prices start at $20.