LIMA — Encore Theatre promises a heartwarming kickoff to the holiday season this weekend and next weekend with its production of “The Christmas Schooner,” a musical production based on the true story of a Great Lakes sailing ship bringing Christmas joy to poor immigrants in turn of the century Chicago.
“There’s a family living in a lumber town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan,” according to the play’s director, Jeff Kerr. “The father is a captain of a lumber schooner, and after receiving a letter from his cousin in Chicago, he decides to take a load of Christmas trees from Michigan down to Chicago for German immigrants who haven’t had access to them.”
Written by John Reeger and Julie Shannon, “The Christmas Schooner” has become a holiday tradition in the Chicago area since its introduction in 1995. This weekend’s performance will be the first time this play has been seen in Lima.
Although this is a holiday musical, complete with live musicians, those in attendence should not expect a carol sing-a-long at Encore. In addition, the music in this production is unlike much of the music normally seen in musical theater.
“It’s not like your traditional Broadway musical,” Kerr said. “It has a lot of heart, if that makes sense. There’s some traditional Christmas carols like ‘O Tannenbaum,’ there’s a Winterfest polka, and there are other songs that really exemplify sailing on the lake. It’s a very different feel.”
Celebrating family, tradition and the spirit of giving, “The Christmas Schooner” promises to delight audiences of all ages.
“It’s a very heartwarming show,” Kerr said. “It’s great for families.”