December 2nd , 2013 12:48 pm Leave a comment

Johnson City Community Theatre invites audiences to set sail on ‘The Christmas Schooner’


The musical, “The Christmas Schooner,” will be this year’s holiday production by the Johnson City Community Theatre.

“The Christmas Schooner” is a critically acclaimed holiday treat based on the true story of a Michigan shipping captain who braves the deadly winter weather to bring Christmas trees to homesick German-American families in turn-of-the-century Chicago. His voyages become a yearly tradition despite his wife’s misgivings, until a fateful voyage makes her realize the true importance of his mission. A timely and stirring tale of love and loss, “The Christmas Schooner” reminds audiences of tradition, family and responsibility. With book by John Reeger and music and lyrics by Julie Shannon, “The Christmas Schooner” is presented at JCCT by special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

The musical will play for three weekends on Fridays and Saturdays from Dec. 6 to Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. with one matinee on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m. Reservations can be made by going online to or calling 926-2542. “The Christmas Schooner” is the sixth and final production in JCCT’s 101st season, making JCCT the longest continuously running theatre organization in the state of Tennessee and one of the longest-running theatrical organizations in the country. JCCT’s first production took place in 1885, and there has been an unbroken record of continuous seasons of produced plays and musicals since 1912.

JCCT’s production of “The Christmas Schooner” is directed by Sabra Hayden, the JCCT president of the board.

“I’m so thrilled to bring this wonderful musical to JCCT and the Tri-Cities,” Hayden said. “I hope our audiences will enjoy it as much as the cast and crew have.”

The cast includes Brent Edwards, Melanie Yodkins, Glenn Davis, Julian Olsen, Alex Webb, Nora Beth Moran, John Colbaugh, Jason Headen, Jake Jones, Robert Andrews, Kari Tuthill, Angela Dannhardt, Katy Libby, Sharvis Smith, Sophie Ledes, Annika Burley and Chloe Ledes. Music direction is provided by Don McGregor and Dishon Smith. Rounding out the production team are Assistant Director Montie Stevens, Rehearsal Accompanist Ruth Davis, Choreographer Lindy Ley, Set Designer Richard Nave, Hair and Make-up Designer Allison Jeffreys, Sound Designer Chad Barrett, Stage Manager Kaitlynn Newcombe, Sound Tech Bruce Olsen, Light Tech Stephanie Mangiactotti and Properties Mistress Stefanie Murphy.


“The Christmas Schooner” premiered at Bailiwick Repertory Theatre in Chicago and received the 1996 Chicago After Dark Award for outstanding new work. After a 12-year continuing seasonal run followed as well as a CD, and productions across the United States, 2008 was the final season for the performance at the Bailiwick Repertory Theatre. It reopened at the Mercury Theatre in Chicago in 2011.

This musical is 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,” “Winterfest Polka,” “Questions” and “Hardwater Sailors.”

“I had the pleasure of attending The Christmas Schooner two Christmas’s in a row when I was in Chicago,” said JCCT Artistic Director Thomas Townsend. “It was a holiday tradition there and I am thrilled to see it come to life at JCCT. We have audience members coming from at least three and maybe more hours away to come see it. It embodies all of what is wonderful about the real meaning of Christmas and the holiday season.”

Townsend said this production is also a chance to share something wonderful with the whole family.

“I recommend bringing the whole neighborhood, or church, or office to come see it, and let it fill everybody with holiday joy,” he said.

The Christmas Schooner delivers “The Blessings of the Branch” at JCCT. Not only is “The Blessings of the Branch” a song from the musical, but JCCT’s theme for the 2013 holiday season. Seven charities, a different one for every night of the production, will be the recipient of the audience’s donations at the end of each performance. The list of charities includes the United Way, Second Harvest Food Bank, Keystone Dental, Adult Day Services, JC/Washington County Animal Shelter, MSHA Foundation and CASA for Kids. In addition to the donations from the audience, if the attendance for an evening reaches 150 or more, a percentage of the evening’s box office proceeds will be donated from JCCT to that evening’s charity. For more information about “The Blessings of the Branch” charity drive, email JCCT President Sabra Hayden at

Mountain States Health Alliance is a season sponsor of JCCT. “The Christmas Schooner” is also sponsored in part by Duck Landing of Elizabethton. “The Christmas Schooner” is made possible, in part, by support from the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Arts Builds Community Grant and the Johnson City Area Arts Council. JCCT is a member of the Johnson City Area Arts Council and the Johnson City/Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

Regular ticket prices are $12, with students with a valid identification, seniors (55 and up) and active military receiving a discounted ticket price of $10. Season tickets are also available. For more information on JCCT performance dates, tickets, auditions or volunteer opportunities, visit or call JCCT at 926-2542. Reservations can also be made online by clicking on the reservations tab.


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