Anyone connected to the “theater” knows that there are many backstage traditions. There are also traditional plays that come back year after year. In particular, at holiday time, we can anticipate the Goodman will have “A Christmas Carol” ( others will as well), American Blues will bring back their outstanding radio show experience of “It’s A Wonderful Life” and for Chicagoans, the warmth of the spirit is seen every year ( now in its new home at The Mercury Theater), “The Christmas Schooner”. Based on real history of the first Christmas trees arriving via Lake Michigan, with a solid book by Chicago actor John Reeger and music and lyrics that will warm your heart by the late Julie Shannon, The Mercury Theater appears to be the perfect spot for both actors and audiences to re-visit the story that is told in this marvelous musical.
It is the story of a family that risked their lives to bring cheer and Christmas to Chicago. Yes, therewere no trees during this period and the immigrants that had settled in Chicago had only their memories.
One again the show is directed by L Walter Stearns who certainly has a love for the story and it shows. The musical director Eugene Dizon and his musicians bring the lovely melodies to life and never over power the actors/singers on the stage. The choreography by Brenda Didier is sheer magic on a very small stage and when the boat is in a storm and the men are flying about, there is no way that it does not appear to be happening now! The costumes by Carol J/ Blanchard and lighting by Jason Epperson along with the great multi-purpose set by Jacqueline and Richard Penrod truly make this a wonderful experience for the family, but to be honest, it is the story itself and the ensemble of actors, many who take on several roles that tell this story and make this more than a play, but rather an experience and even better a memory.
William Anderson (Karl at age 9) and Brian Bohr (Karl at age 15) along with the crew of very talented actors/singers (and yes, dancers)Michael Pacas, James Rank, Daniel Smeriglio, Sean Thomas, Eric Parker and Elizabeth Lanza, the adorable Jaclyn Dougherty, Kelly Anne Clark, Brennan Dougherty, Leah Morrow and of course, the grandfather, who is as amazing today as he was when he first played Gus, James Wilson Sherman- this is a role he was born to play. Every actor seeks that role, Sherman found his! And we are the benefactors of this, for sure!
“The Christmas Schooner” will continue at The Mercury Theater located at 3745 N. Southport between two of Wrigleyville’s best dining spots, Cullens and Deleece, with valet parking available so you can climb aboard the schooner right from your car. The play will continue through December 28th with performances as follows:
Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays at 3 and 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $25-$65 and there are no bad seats in this intimate space. Call the box office at 773-325-1700 or visit www.MercuryTheaterChicago.com