Winning game plan

Formidable young cast shines as Rainbow Stage hits ice with classic Canadian tale

Advertisement

Advertise with us

It was some kind of ghastly benchmark in Canadian culture when, in 2010, someone made a movie titled Score: A Hockey Musical, a silly effort with a dead-end ambition: to make a film for that tiny Venn diagram demographic that loves both hockey and movie musicals.

Read this article for free:

or

Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:

All-Access Digital Subscription

$1.50 for 150 days*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles
Continue

*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.

It was some kind of ghastly benchmark in Canadian culture when, in 2010, someone made a movie titled Score: A Hockey Musical, a silly effort with a dead-end ambition: to make a film for that tiny Venn diagram demographic that loves both hockey and movie musicals.

Theatre review

The Hockey Sweater: A Musical

Rainbow Stage

ROBERT TINKER PHOTO Lead Nathan Malolos (centre) plays the younger self of narrator and author Roch Carrier (played by Harry Nelken), whose skill at hockey doesn’t quite match his passion for the game.

To July 17

Tickets at rainbowstage.ca

★★★½ out of five

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The formidable cast employ in-line skates on stage, and not only manage to pull off decent hockey action, but also perform complex dance moves.

As we can see this month at Rainbow Stage, someone discovered a better way to two-prong those communities utilizing a property hiding in plain sight.

Roch Carrier’s short story The Hockey Sweater was already a choice piece of Canadiana courtesy of Sheldon Cohen’s classic 1980 short animated film The Sweater, adapted from Carrier’s gently humorous short memoir. It recalls Carrier’s youth, playing on the local junior hockey team until his mother mistakenly orders him a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, when all his other teammates dress exclusively in the No. 9 Habs jersey worn by Maurice (Rocket) Richard.

This adaptation by Emil Sher (book and lyrics) and Jonathan Monro (music and lyrics), which premiered in 2017 in Montreal, hews close to the source material. But with a somewhat overlong running time of two hours and 20 minutes (including intermission), it embellishes Carrier’s gently sardonic story with a dollop of romance, deeper characterization, and a fleshed-out view of life in small-town Francophone Quebec after the Second World War.

The elderly Carrier (Harry Nelken) introduces the setting with a wistful musical picture-painting of what life was like back then, when Maurice Richard adoration gave the Catholic church a run for its money.

Old Roch introduces his younger self (played by 12-year-old Nathan Malolos), a kid whose hockey fervour for the game doesn’t quite match his nascent skills.

But he perseveres with the support of his mother (Rochelle Kives), who secretly hates hockey, a situation exacerbated by the fact her builder husband spends months away from home working construction in Montreal.

Disdain for the game also seeps into the life of schoolteacher Mlle. Therrien (Colleen Furlan), who watches her students’ grades plummet as the hockey season intensifies. She finds herself at odds with both the hockey-mad parish priest (Kevin McIntyre) and the just-out-of-the-army coach (Devin Lowry), for whom she carries an ill-hidden torch.

Act One comes to a close with the discovery that, to replace her son’s worn-out Montreal jersey, mom has inadvertently ordered a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, and is insisting her son play in it.

There is a tremendous amount of fun to be had here, particularly in the staging of the hockey games. The formidable juvenile cast employ in-line skates on stage, and not only manage to pull off decent hockey action, but also perform complex dance moves courtesy of choreographer Jaz Sealey. Rainbow often uses children in its casts, but this is one of the more impressive assemblies yet, notable especially for the vocal skills of Malolos, Luke Dziver and Keara Allain. (Shout-out to young Davison Gee, who has one of the funnier one-word line readings you’ll ever see.)

Director Carson Nattrass’s style is perhaps a little too broad for the material, with mugging and embellished movement designed to play back to the rear seats, a tonal mismatch for a story that is intended to be more wistful and even elegiac, moods more readily evoked by set designer Brian Perchaluk and lighting designer Scott Henderson.

Fortunately, both Kives and Furlan have voices up to the task of reflecting Nattrass’s more operatic tendencies.

Again, it could use some trimming, especially for such a family-friendly piece. One scene in particular belongs on the chopping block, the tune My Confession, sung by priest Father Delisle. In it, he confesses a horrible secret that turns out to be relatively innocuous, but not before needlessly reminding us of all the other priestly crimes that were not so benign.

One other issue: Rainbow generally likes the audience to leave with a song in their heads. Alas, with this music, no single song will last beyond the exit doors.

randall.king.arts@gmail.com

Twitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

History

Updated on Friday, July 8, 2022 11:13 AM CDT: Corrects spelling of Jaz Sealey's name

Report Error Submit a Tip

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Arts & Life

LOAD MORE ARTS & LIFE