The Christmas Schooner Closing (Theater and Galleries) Recommended The Short List (Theater)

When: Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 26 2015

"The heartbeat of our life is in our stories and our songs" goes a line in this musical, the true story of the Rouse Simmons, the Great Lakes schooner that first brought Christmas trees to Chicago from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The voyage was made for Chicago's 19th-century German immigrants longing for the celebrations of home; the trees quickly became a festive tradition. I sat among the descendants of these German sailors in the matinee audience; they return for the musical year after year, and it’s clear why: the production is sharp and moving (however overwrought the plotting in act two becomes, act one is wholly mesmerizing), with goose-bump-inducing music. This not-secular story nonetheless offers the best of the nonsecular holiday spirit: tradition, family, memory. Let's hope that one day we can celebrate 21st-century immigrants with the same warmth and gratitude. —Suzanne Scanlon

Price: $25-$69

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