Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Christmas Schooner, 78/365

Every wonder why we have Christmas Trees?  The ornament above partially answers that question - it is one of my favorite ornaments on the tree.  We are a HUGE theatre family, and "The Christmas Schooner" is a musical that our family participated in four times and is based on a true story.  The next three paragraphs are extracted from a newspaper ( I think the Petoskey News & Review) article:

"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 (Click on the title) 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.

The following link is a video of the year after we left Petoskey, and many of our friends are in this version.  There is also a bit of the true history explained.  The music is beautiful and if you have a production of this going on near you, please consider buying tickets.

I believe the following information is still correct: 

Songs from The Christmas SchoonerLyrist & Music by Julie Shannon. $15.00 available by emailing or Calling (847-256-0112 or
Can purchase by mail by sending a check or credit card number to: William Geller, 2116 Thornwood, Wilmette, IL 60091

The photos below are from one of the shows.  My daughter is in the purple dress and my son and husband are the two behind the captain's wheel.


Ginnie said...

Having grown up in Michigan, Margaret, I'm astonished that I've never heard this story. I guess we're never too old to get our education! Thanks for sharing this piece of Christmas that means so much to you and your family. Congratulations all around.

Rosie said...

How very interesting! Thanks so much for sharing the story!

Jingle Poetry said...

I know how you feel, be proud of your girl,
keep shining...

Jingle Poetry said...

Please consider link in 1 to 3 poems to Jingle Poetry Potluck week 14.
We are open and will remain open for about 24 hours from now and appreciate your submission today...

any poems are welcome.

your talent rocks.
share your poetry today,
stay blessed.

Margaret Bednar said...

Ginnie - This is truly our families favorite holiday tradition. Here in the "south" we don't have a version of this to participate in or go see. We will, though, be playing the music from the CD on Christmas day! I hope someday you get to see it as well- but the music is just as enchanting. I have added the purchase contact to my blog post. I think it is current.

Rosie - As I told Ginnie above, I have added the purchase contact to my blog post. I think it is current.

Jingle - thank you for your praise and invitation. I posted a my first haiku to Poetry Potluck! :)

Ruth said...

I'm with my sister, I didn't know about this. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, it sounds very meaningful.

Margaret Bednar said...

Ruth - I hope someday you get to enjoy this heartwarming play (musical).