Naked Stage’s production of “Jacques Plante and the Parkdale Knitting League” stars (clockwise from bottom left) Clive Ramroop, Peter McCreath, Lorraine Landry, Nancy Painter and George Stone. Missing from the photo is Braden Deans. (submitted photo)

Naked Stage’s production of “Jacques Plante and the Parkdale Knitting League” stars (clockwise from bottom left) Clive Ramroop, Peter McCreath, Lorraine Landry, Nancy Painter and George Stone. Missing from the photo is Braden Deans. (submitted photo)

Well-knit tale of Habs hockey legend plays ‘naked’ on Surrey stage

‘Jacques Plante’ script blends fact with imaginary tale of woman who has fantasies about NHL goalie

The eccentric side of a hockey legend is explored in the latest script brought to the stage by Surrey’s Naked Stage company.

The Paul McLaughlin-penned Jacques Plante and the Parkdale Knitting League is performed as reader’s theatre at Newton Cultural Centre from March 16 to 18.

Hockey fans will know the title character as the Montreal Canadiens goaltender who in 1959 revolutionized the game by wearing a mask for protection on a regular basis.

The comedy-accented drama tells the story of Plante, who was an avid knitter, and blends historical fact with the imaginary tale of Violet Henderson, a woman trapped in a loveless marriage to a zealous Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

“Violet becomes attracted to Plante because of their mutual love of knitting and to fight back at her husband, Fred, who hates the accomplished Montreal player,” according to a description of the play on McLaughlin’s website. “She begins a long one-sided relationship with Plante, by mail, until the goalie is traded to Toronto late in his career, at which point she decides they have to meet in person.”

Colleen McGoff Dean directs the award-winning play for Naked Stage, for which only scripts and chairs are required for the actors – no costumes or sets needed. A lit “naked” stage serves as a sort of blank canvas for the actors to do their thing.

“We tell people it isn’t about fancy lighting, there are no costumes, there is no set, and people wonder, ‘Well, what is it?’” related McGoff Dean, a South Surrey resident. “I tell them it’s character development, and it’s the embodiment of those characters by the actors, but it’s also more theatre of the mind.”

• READ MORE: Theatre/music lovers bring ‘Naked Stage’ to Newton Cultural Centre, from June 2016.

The actors have been rehearsing weekly at Semiahmoo House Society headquarters on 24th Avenue.

“The nice thing about reader’s theatre is there is no need for an onerous rehearsal schedule that a regular show needs, because we don’t have to work on as much staging and sets and things,” noted McGoff Dean, a college teacher who specializes in communications studies.

Two decades ago, she was cast as Violet in a White Rock Player’s Club production of Jacques Plante and the Parkdale Knitting League.

“That was the very first play I did with the player’s club, and when we were thinking of another show to do this season with Naked Stage, it just popped into my head to do this,” McGoff Dean said.

“Back then, I had my mother-in-law teach me how to knit for the role because I thought, this is White Rock and there will be women in the audience who have probably knitted their entire lives, so I better look like I know what I’m doing.”

For Naked Stage this season, the company was looking for something to appeal to a wider range of people – “you know, men who might not be so interested in theatre might be interested in this play,” McGoff Dean said. “I mean, romance, knitting and hockey, where do you get that combination together, right? So I was familiar with the play, and I mentally counted up the number of cast members, and it worked out.”

One “interesting challenge” for the director has been how to portray Violet’s dreams about Plante.

“She has these fantasies about him, and it’s the tricky thing – how do you allow her to talk about these fantasies when he is physically sitting there,” McGoff Dean explained. “You have to convey to the audience that this is all in her head.”

Originally from the Bay Area of California, McGoff Dean years ago took a college course that taught aspects of reader’s theatre.

“I loved the fact the you, Tom, or anyone, could play an 80-year-old woman, even a four-year-old boy, and that’s because the actors aren’t limited by any physical appearances,” she said. “It’s whatever that person can do with their voice.”

She learned of Naked Stage’s productions locally while reading a newspaper story a couple of years ago.

“My husband is the one who saw it, and I was tracking these guys down as soon as I finished reading the article, because here was somebody who understand reader’s theatre and was working with it locally.”

Jim Trimble, a founder of the theatre company, is excited to stage the play about the hockey great.

“You really get some insight into the life of this goalie, and what those around him were like,” he told the Now-Leader during an interview at Newton Cultural Centre, where the play will be staged three times on the weekend of March 16-18.

McGoff Dean, who was among the actors in a Naked Stage production of Love, Loss, and What I Wore last spring, directs six actors for the staging of the Jacques Plante play. This is her directorial debut for the company.

The actors are Clive Ramroop (as Plante), Nancy Painter (as Violet), Braden Deans (the coach), George Stone (as Fred Henderson, Violet’s husband), Pete McCreath (the announcer) and Lorraine Landry (as Plante’s two wives, Jacqueline and Raymonde).

“We have two new actors (to Naked Stage), including Nancy, who I know from shows at White Rock Player’s Club, where I’ve worked for a number of years, and also Braden, somebody I also met through the player’s club 20 years ago, and he’s gone on to do other things and hasn’t been involved in acting for awhile. So I said to him, ‘Braden, I know you can do this.’”

With the exception of Fred and Violet, all characters in the play are based on real people.

Raved Trimble: “George Stone is absolutely fantastic as Fred, who aspires to be this hockey player but he realizes he’s over the hill so he then dreams of having a son who’s a hockey player.”

Violet’s husband is “kind of the quintessential 1950s husband,” McGoff Dean explained, “whose role is to put food on the table and a roof over his family’s head and then watch hockey with the boys, and the wife is supposed to put out the food. So one of the sub-themes in this is Violet finding her own identity other than just serving food to everybody, so she comes up with a plan where, well, you guys can have your hockey night every Saturday and the ladies just end up knitting, well, we’re going to have our own league, the Parkdale Knitting League. So it’s Parkdale because that’s where we live, knitting because that’s what we do, and league just to annoy the men. So it’s her in this loveless marriage and it’s Fred that says, ‘Hey, look, finally a hockey player you have something in common with, this goalie named ‘Jack Plant,’ in that Toronto accent of his.”

Tickets are $15 each for the shows at Newton Cultural Centre, via brownpapertickets.com and at the door. The theatre is located at 13530 72 Ave., Surrey. For more details, visit nakedstage.net.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Naked Stage Productions co-founder Jim Trimble with Colleen McGoff Dean, who directs “Jacques Plante and the Parkdale Knitting League” for a run at Newton Cultural Centre from March 16 to 18. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Naked Stage Productions co-founder Jim Trimble with Colleen McGoff Dean, who directs “Jacques Plante and the Parkdale Knitting League” for a run at Newton Cultural Centre from March 16 to 18. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Just Posted

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Man charged after multiple mail thefts in Surrey: RCMP

Police say man was reported to be carrying a crowbar and looking into vehicles

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.'s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
Province ‘ramping up’ COVID-19 vaccination effort in hard-hit Surrey

‘Door-to-door’ registration program in the works, says Dr. Bonnie Henry

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Serena Deol, Jaspreet Deol, Madison Sweeney and Tanveer Pannu (pictured clockwise from top left) are Surrey United soccer players recruited to the University of Fraser Valley. (submitted photos)
Surrey United soccer quartet sign to play for UFV Cascades

Three of the university’s recruits are Panorama Ridge Secondary students

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read