The Christmas Schooner
|The Christmas Schooner|
|Awards||Chicago After Dark Award|
Premiered at Bailiwick Repertory Theatre and received the 1996 Chicago After Dark Award for outstanding new work. A twelve-year continuing seasonal run has followed as well as a CD, and productions in the Midwest, Texas and California have also been successful. 2008 was the final season for the performance at the Bailiwick Repertory Theatre.
Based on the true story of the Rouse Simmons, a Great Lakes schooner whose captain risks life and limb to transport fir trees from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Chicago's German immigrants during the late 19th century. Notable songs from the musical include "We All Have Songs," "Pass it On," "What is it About the Water?," "Winterfest Polka," "Questions," and "Hardwater Sailors."
The professional World Premiere of “The Christmas Schooner” debuted at the Bailiwick Repertory Theatre in the Winter of 1995.
Directed by David Zak with the following actors in the main roles: David G. Peryam as Peter Stossel, Candace L. Johnson as Alma Stossel, Roscoe Frasier as Gus, Anthony Cotton as Karl (age 9), and Becca Daniels as Cousin Martha. Other actors featured throughout the annual run of Christmas Schooner include: Amy Arbizzani (Martha, Alma), Tom Higgins (Gus), Ben Stoner (Steve), Brendon Martin (Young Karl), Hilary Feldman (Enid), Gretchen Goodrich (Cousin Martha), David Vish (Oskar), JB Ward (Olive), Tom Shea (Rudy), Paul Mullen (Hans), Jendi Tarde (Enid), and Kevin Pease (Older Karl)
This is the first major production of "The Christmas Schooner" in the Chicago city limits since the Bailiwick Repertory Theatre in 2008, began previews on November 16, 2011, and opened on November 19, 2011. Directed by L. Walter Stearns, Executive Director of Mercury Theater Chicago, musical directed by Eugene Dizon, and choreographed by Brenda Didier. The cast includes Cory Goodrich (Alma), Karl Sean Hamilton (Peter), Jim Sherman (Gus), Daniel Coonley (Karl, age 9), Mark Kosten (Karl, age 15), Elizabeth Haley (Martha), Kelly Anne Clark (Caitlin), Dina DiCostanzo (Olive/Rose), John Finley (Louis), Ronald Keaton (Oskar), Caroline Kobylarz (Enid), Benjamin Magnuson (Steve), Isabelle Roberts (Mary Claire), Thomas M. Shea (Rudy), Catherine Stegemann (Lilli Mae), and Ryan Westwood (Hans/Officer Wells). This production was nominated for Outstanding Production - Musical - Midsize by Chicago's Jeff Awards.
Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune said, "So when I say that the newest production of the "Schooner" at the reborn Mercury Theater, is by far the best sung of that dozen I've seen, that's pretty much the whole deal. You may well have seen "Schooner" before, but you won't have heard it sung (or seen it acted) at this level. Critic's Choice." Mary Houlihan of the Chicago Sun-Times said, "L. Walter Stearns has given the musical new life in a production that pleases in every way. With this heartwarming production, "The Christmas Schooner" rejoins the ranks of holiday favorites."
- Winner of Chicago's 1996 "After Dark" Award for Outstanding New Work.
- Winner of Chicago's 1996 "After Dark" Award for Outstanding Performance: Candace L. Johnson as Alma Stossel
- Named a 1996 "Editor's Choice" by American Theatre Magazine.
- Received positive accolades from 2004 Cappies program.
- Nominated for Outstanding Production - Musical - Midsize (2012) by Jeff Awards.
- Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL). November 27, 2006. Farewell voyage: `Christmas Schooner' ending its 12-year run in sentimental style.
- Balliwick Repertory Theatre
- The Christmas Schooner at the Music Theatre International website
- About the Artists - Mercury Theater "The Christmas Schooner" page
- 2011 Chicago Tribune review by Chris Jones
- 2011 Chicago Sun-Times review by Mary Houlihan