Just days after the production Freud’s Last Session wrapped, the Mercury Theater in Lake View is ready to bring a Christmas classic back to its historic stage.
From Nov. 23 through Dec. 30, the theater at 3745 N. Southport will host the performance of The Christmas Schooner, a musical written by Chicago’s John Reeger and Julie Shannon. Based on the true story of the first Christmas tree ship, a company of 25 actors and musicians are performing the story on the 100-year anniversary of the historic voyage.
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. Then, on Nov. 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 Theater on Southport – opened that very same year.
The Christmas Schooner has entertained audiences in hundreds of productions including a 12-year run at Chicago’s Bailiwick Repertory Theatre. Last year the Mercury revived the performance with a full orchestra and an all-star cast, garnering a “Best Production” nomination for the 2012 Jeff Awards.
The performance schedule:
- Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
- Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
- Sundays at 1 p.m.
Tickets range from $29 to $59, and groups of 10 or more receive discounts of up to 50 percent. For tickets and information contact the Mercury Theater at 773-325-1700 or visit the theater’s website.