Original cast of GLORY. Set and Lighting Designer: Narda McCarroll. Costume Designer: Cindy Wiebe. Photo: Barbara Zimonick.
Ice hockey: the quintessential Canadian sport. Dominated by men in the NHL in the 1930s, the teamwork, camaraderie, and sheer brutality of the sport brings people together, even in the most desperate of times. But what happens if women give it a try?
Written by Tracey Power, GLORY tells the story of four women who did just that. Struggling to keep together a baseball team and still grumbling about their loss in the championships, four magnificent women find solace in the dreariness of the Great Depression to create one of the most fearsome women’s hockey teams of their time. They fight their way through the opinions of the disbelieving public, sexist radio announcers, media, and a coach to bring camaraderie, teamwork, and joy to people in desperate times, and show that a woman’s place is on home ice.
Helen (Kate Dion-Richard) delivered a delightfully feminine and iron-willed performance as the picture of a 1930s woman: flirty as a teen, unyielding as a mother, and an absolute powerhouse on the ice. Hilda (Katie Ryerson) was exactly as hardworking, hockey-obsessed, and earnest as you would expect a team captain to be, bringing tired teammates together in the locker room and being a talented player to boot, scoring goals in every game as she worked towards her dream job: the NHL. Her sister Nellie (Morgan Yamada) gave the show the purehearted support and strength of the best goalies. Marm’s (Advah Soudack) saucy sense of humor both diminished tenuous situations as the team was coming together, but later in the show exhibited a fortitude that showed she wouldn’t stand for discrimination, of her gender or ethnicity. She used her wit to both charm and convince the coach, Herb (Andrew Wheeler), into agreeing to coach women’s hockey. Herb doggedly agreed, and delivered the grumpy get-down-to business attitude of everyone’s favorite coach.
How, you may ask, did James MacDonald capture the on-ice drama of every hockey game without a rink? Invigorating electro swing choreography brought the game to life as each of the girls passed, dipped, spun, dove, and scored to the beat. Every goal was met with a triumphant yell, a red light, and the praise of teammates, before jumping right back in to the choreography, where every pass had the audience’s eyes going with it. The electro swing was an excellent choice: it kept us in the period, brought electrifying vitality to every game, and yet the electronic aspects of the music kept us feeling as fresh and upcoming as the ladies pioneering their way on ice.
All in all, GLORY debuted an uplifting performance about individuals struggling through all manners of adversity: a struggling economy, a sexist public, a racist ice rink, starting a family. But the true power of GLORY lay in the unyielding perseverance and hope that burned in every character’s heart. Through all manners of bias, disbelief, and misfortune, each and every one showed that with teamwork, determination, and hard work can get you through even the toughest of battles, on or off the ice. Go Rivulettes!
GLORY is running April 4-13 at the Gateway Theatre. If you miss the run, catch the show touring the nation until October!
GLORY by Tracy Power is running at Gateway Theatre from April 4th to 13th.