The first crime of passion I ever witnessed was in the moments after the Habs scored a winning goal against the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada many years ago. The instant that yellow siren swirled, my brother’s best friend, a long-suffering Leafs fan, flew up off the couch and kicked over our TV. Despite the loss, and the fact that my brother’s posse had to find another TV on which to watch the now Leaf-less playoffs, this friend still wore his blue jersey until the bitter end. And according to Facebook, he’s still wearing it today.
The rivalry between the Leafs and the Habs goes back further than their first game in 1917. Some have suggested it goes all the way back to the Plains of Abraham, with the traditional defenders of each club representing the two sides of this same ancient division. While the average 10-year-old might not be aware of this historical context, I would vouch that most 10-year-olds understand the pull of being one of a club, an insider on the team of an idolized hero, and would recognize in an instant the shame of a perceived betrayal when forced by circumstance to appear in the wrong colour jersey. The Hockey Sweater brilliantly celebrates this human drive for belonging, and even better, places it firmly in our sense of community and in our hearts.
Please join me in a great rousing cheer for the incredible team of all-stars who put this show together – manager Donna Feore, team captains Jonathan Monro and Emil Sher, Roch Carrier who first dropped the puck, and the A-list roster of designers, performers and crew whose immense talents and dedication have brought this timeless Canadian story to life so brilliantly on our national stage. I’d also like to offer a special shout-out to Lisa Rubin, Jon Rondeau and everyone at the Segal Centre for their singular determination in bringing new Canadian musicals to the fore. Hearty thanks as well to the donors who invested in the NAC’s National Creation Fund, a key player in the development of this work for national and international audiences.
Last but certainly not least, many thanks to you for being here to cheer on the home team, and all the best of the season to you and yours.
When you’re small everyone seems tall. And then there are giants! Giants can frighten or inspire, and some can do both. Maurice “Rocket” Richard terrified his opponents and electrified his fans. His fierce determination and exceptional skills cemented his place in the hearts and minds of all those who loved him.
Number 9 was a legend who only grew more magical with every game he played. Imagine the exhilarating thrill of knowing that when you grew up you could be just like him, and you didn’t have to wait until then for the transformation – it could happen now! Secure in that knowledge, our hero Roch takes to the ice wrapped in his Montreal Canadiens number 9 hockey sweater, just like every other member of his team. He knows who he is and where he belongs. That is, until that same charmed sweater starts to unravel and with it, his identity.
The Hockey Sweater is about how we discover who we are and who we want to be. Our wildest dreams can show us the way but without the love and support of our community, our friends and family, we can get lost. Roch faces an identity crisis of epic proportions when his precious sweater is replaced by the jersey of the enemy Toronto Maple Leafs! For Roch, this is not child’s play; this is the end of the world.
The Hockey Sweater became an instant classic the moment it was released because author Roch Carrier succeeded in poignantly capturing how we all feel when dispossessed. The agony, the heartbreak, the misunderstanding, the isolation and loneliness; all of it. In this wonderful new musical version, written by the extraordinary Jonathan Monro and Emil Sher, we’ve upped the stakes for all concerned. In a musical, when you can no longer speak, you sing, when you can no longer sing, you dance, and now when you dance, you skate too.
We are so fortunate to have the incredible support of the National Arts Centre and its National Creation Fund which has enabled us to mount this new, enhanced version of the show. We hope you will share our joy as we wrap you up in The Hockey Sweater!
How is it that a children’s book first published in 1984, set in a small town in Quebec in 1946, continues to touch readers of all ages in 2018? We all yearn to belong, and The Hockey Sweater reminds us that it isn’t always easy. Nor was it a simple task to take this iconic short story and develop it into a two-hour long, large-scale musical.
When we started collaborating back in December of 2015, we quickly realized that Roch’s story contained the seeds we needed to make these characters sing: school being a punishment, the church -being a place of both hope and repentance, the rink – and Maurice Richard – being Roch’s symbols of freedom. At the centre of the story is the love between a mother and son, sidetracked by a misunderstanding that leads Roch to discover who he really is.
Our sincere thanks to Donna Feore for her masterful vision, and to Roch Carrier for trusting us with his story.
Jonathan Monro & Emil Sher
Overture (Old Roch)
Like Richard 1 (Roch, Roch’s Teammates)
Ten Feet Tall (Roch, Roch’s Teammates, Gaétan, Father Delisle, Parents)
I Hate Hockey (Anna, Company)
We Stick Together (Sylvain, Roch’s Teammates)
What Would People Think (Anna, Roch)
Like Richard 2 (Roch, Roch’s Teammates)
Dear Mister Eaton (Anna, Roch, Full Company)
Hockey on the Brain (Mlle Therrien, Students)
Bonsoir, Canada (Father Delisle, Roch, Gaétan, Anna, Full Company)
Just Like Richard (Roch)
A Champion’s Heart (Gaétan, Roch, Full Company)
Entr’acte (Old Roch)
Breakaway (Sylvain, Ginette, Roch’s Teammates)
100 Million Moths (Roch, Yvette, Full Company)
Different (Ginette, Roch)
Dear Mister Eaton (Reprise) (Mlle Therrien, Operator, Roch, Mr Eaton)
Is It Me? (Anna)
I Confess (Father Delisle, Roch)
Like Richard 3 (Gaétan, Roch’s Teammates)
Your Sweater and You (Anna, Roch)
The Last Minute (Roch, Gaétan)
Finale (Full Company)
In 2014, the Segal Centre commissioned a new musical based on Roch Carrier’s iconic story to celebrate Montreal’s 375th, Canada’s 150th, and the Segal Centre’s 10th anniversaries. The Hockey Sweater: A Musical premiered at the Segal Centre in October 2017 to an overwhelmingly positive response. We are honoured to have this rare opportunity for further development through investment by the NAC’s National Creation Fund, and for a “second premiere,” presented by NAC’s English Theatre. It is our hope that this musical will continue its trajectory to become an enduring musical legacy for Canada and beyond.
We wouldn’t be here before you without the talent, collaboration and support of many artists, individuals and institutions. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for…
Inspiration: Roch Carrier (story 1979), Sheldon Cohen (animated short 1980 and illustrated book 1984);
Creation and Development: Emil Sher, Jonathan Monro, Donna Feore;
Workshops (2018): Emil Sher; Jonathan Monro assisted by Nick Burgess; Donna Feore assisted by Ann Baggley and Tina Desrochers; Adam Mathias; Eric Craig, Jesse Noah Gruman, Kayla James, Claire Lautier, Riley O’Donnell, Joshua Warren, Sara Alison, Courtenay Stevens, and all who participated in the workshops prior to the 2017 premiere;
Investment: The Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council (script), Serge Postigo and The Society for the Celebration of Montréal’s 375th Anniversary (Montreal premiere), Heather Moore, Chris Dearlove and the team at the National Creation Fund (pre-NAC development and beyond);
Encouragement: Maurice Richard Jr. and the Richard Family; Susan Cohig, Nirva Milord, Hannah Ritter at the NHL; Geoff and Andrew Molson; the Montréal Canadiens; Réjean Houle and the Canadiens Alumni; Michael Levine; Joel Segal; Sonya Lalli, Matt Williams and Sarah MacLaughlan at House of Anansi Press;
Presentation: Jillian Keiley, Nathan Medd, Andy Lunney and the NAC English Theatre Team;
And finally, to everyone who created the premiere production and to the Segal Centre’s exceptional team for taking on the challenges of this grand project with such care and dedication.
Just like the Ste-Justine “Rockets,” we have stuck together through a “long, long, season” of creation and development and are excited to now include you, our audience, as the final player on our team. All sweaters welcome.
Lisa Rubin (Artistic and Executive Director, Segal Centre)
Jon Rondeau (General Manager and Creative Producer, Segal Centre)
The Segal Centre for Performing Arts is a not-for-profit theatre company dedicated to nurturing, producing and presenting world-class English-language theatre and to showcasing the best professional artists from Montreal and beyond. A part of the community since 1967, the organization was reborn in 2007 as the Segal Centre and has expanded to become a nationally recognized venue for the performing arts with a focus on creation, innovation, diversity and cross-cultural collaborations. Driven by a belief in the power of the arts to strengthen and connect communities, the Segal’s programming emphasizes original interpretations of popular classic and contemporary works, new Canadian musicals and engaging productions with universal appeal.