This week, "The Christmas Schooner" comes home again to Northern Michigan when the Little Traverse Civic Theater takes to the stage at the Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey. And what better place to perform this critically-acclaimed heartwarming and poignant holiday musical about the true story of a Michigan shipping captain who braves winter weather on the Lake Michigan to bring Christmas trees to German American families still reeling from the great fire in turn-of-the-century Chicago.
"The Christmas Schooner" premiered at Bailiwick Repertory Theater in the mid-1990s and received the 1996 Chicago After Dark Award for outstanding new work. The musical is based on the true story of the Rouse Simmons, a Great Lakes schooner whose captain, named Peter Stossel in the play, literally puts his life on the 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 ship sank during an icy storm Nov. 22, 1912. "The Christmas Schooner" also tells the love story of Peter and his wife, Alma, who is understandably critical of the trecherous journey year after year, but comes to ultimately understand the power of The Christmas Schooner's mission.
Read about the Legend of the Christmas Tree Ship, the Rouse Simmons, whose captain, Herman Schuenemann, perished in the Great Lakes and whose story might have ended there, if not for his wife, Barbara Schueneman. Barbara and her daughters took to the Great Lakes in a new ship and delivered Christmas trees to Chicago for another 22 years.
Preview night: December 10
Show dates: December 11, 12, 13, 16, 18, 20
Directed By: Gary Albert with musical director, Peter Sims
Tickets: $18 adults, $12 for child under 12
Preview night and Sunday Matinees: All seats $12
Reservations: Call the box office at 231-348-1850 or reserve your tickets on line at http://www.ltct.org .