September 14, 2011

Charlie: A Hockey Story

Canada may be star struck with all the Hollywood A-Listers visiting Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival these days. But out in Vancouver, there is an interesting alternative for entertainment, especially for the hockey fan.

The 27th annual Vancouver International Fringe Festival runs until September 18th. There are over 600 theatre performances by 80 groups over the 11 days.

One of the most critically acclaimed shows is Charlie: A Hockey Story. Created and performed by Jim Sands, he combines music and storytelling to share the important lesson of forgiveness he learned by exploring the myth and meaning of the life of an uncle he never met. The uncle is none other than Charlie Sands, who from 1933 through 1943 played NHL hockey for the Leafs, Bruins, Canadiens, and Rangers.

During his 12-season career, Charlie met many of hockey’s greatest legends including Foster Hewitt, King Clancy, Eddie Shore and Ace Bailey. He was involved in many key events during a formative decade in hockey history. These included one of the longest games ever played and one of the most violent incidents in all of hockey.

The Vancouver Sun calls it "an appealing hour of rambling storytelling with some nice guitar work at either end, Charlie's legend is well-served by his nephew's gentle patter about the glory days of the NHL."

Plank magazine called it an unexpected treasure.

"This wasn't a superficial play about hockey facts or the heroic journey of small town boy who becomes a star, although there were elements of that, of course. But there was so much more. This is a human story about relationships and perseverance and family and mistakes and triumphs. And I certainly wasn't expecting to hear a comparison between hockey and Shakespeare's plays!"

So if you are in Vancouver this week, head down to the Havana Theatre on Commercial Drive and check it out. If you are not in Vancouver then check out the Charlie Sands Hockey Trivia Challenge.

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