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Theater Shows
The Christmas Schooner

A whole lake full of holiday spirit.

centerstage reviewed this performanceReviewed by Centerstage!Go Chicago!

Mercury Theater
3745 N. Southport Ave.
Chicago, IL 60613 Map This Place!Map it
Tickets: or (773) 325-1700 or


Related Info:
Official website

Runs November 23, 2012-December 30, 2012

Saturday2pm, 7:30pm
Wednesday2pm, 7:30pm

Recommended a "Must See" Show

Floating past dozens of Scrooges, one schooner. This sweet-hearted, Chicago-centric musical tells the story of the "Christmas Tree Ship," which brought firs across the Great Lakes from the UP to the city during the 19th Century. The show, which ran for 12 years at the Bailiwick, has sailed into the Mercury to rave reviews. It's the perfect way to teach your kids hometown pride with a heavy dose of the holiday spirit.

reviewed performanceCenterstage Show Review
Reviewer: Alex Huntsberger
Monday Dec 03, 2012

“The Christmas Schooner” is a musical play about a Christmas Schooner; and the directness of its title reflects the directness of its intentions. It is a straightforward holiday story of love, generosity and goodwill towards men. But in such directness it also finds great strength. It’s not trying to be the cleverest play in town, but the most open and sincere. And if there’s ever a time for honesty, warmth and good cheer, it’s Christmas. With a book by John Reeger and music and lyrics by the late Julie Shannon, “The Christmas Schooner” tells a fictionalized version of a true, Chicago story. Ship captain Peter Stossel (Karl Hamilton) decides to begin transporting Christmas trees from his home in Michigan down to Chicago despite the many dangers that such a trip presents. Against the advice of his wife, Alma (Cory Goodrich), and in the company of Teutonic crank of a father, Gustav (James Sherman Wilson), and eventually his Karl (Benjamin Parkhill as a child and Mark Kosten as a teenager) Peter becomes a Christmas hero to thousands of German immigrants in Chicago, even though the risks of a deadly shipwreck increase with each passing year. At 2 hours and 15 minutes the action occasionally drags, but the gorgeous music and fantastic cast always succeed in carrying the day. Goodrich gives the most stand-out performance in the show, although all the leads, Hamiltion especially, are quite strong. Her careful balancing of Alma’s love for her husband with her worry and often outright fury at the risks he takes is wonderful to behold. Hamilton, on the other hand, brings a weary, no-nonsense nobility to Peter that makes it clear why Alma loves him so dearly while also wanting to knock some sense in him. Sherman is delightfully cranky as Gustav, showing just where Peter got his stubbornness but without the soft round edges. He is a coot for the ages. And cast member Travis Taylor delivers a very fine supporting performance as Steve, Peter’s loyal first mate and friend. Oh yes, and they can all sing you under the table. “The Christmas Schooner” has run in Chicago now for over a decade. With its wonderful music, this knockout cast, and a heart-rending, love-affirming story, it is easy to see why people keep coming back for more. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but that’s what the holidays are about: spending time with old friends and family, those who you know and who you will go home to.

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