THE JOURNEY ” THE LIVING HISTORY OF THE REGENT PARK REVITALIZATION

journey directing

Photograph by Linda Stella

Since August of 2014 I was hired as Production Coordinator/Creative Director and the writer of the Script Adaptation for Mitchell Cohen’s play The Journey The Living History of the Regent Park Revitalization. Mitchell wrote the original script along with members of the regent park community. The first time I directed this show and worked on the first version of  a script in progress was in November of 2013 but this year the show has evolved and changed because it is indeed a “Living History”

I met Mitchell Cohen (President of Daniels Corporation)  and Henry Heillig Musical Director Extraordinaire in 2012 when I filled in as a last minute replacement to sing Mitchell’s song Under One Roof – If I only knew what that one song would lead to…

This Show is a culmination of every skill that I possess from my creative consulting skills to project management – from writing and editing to collaborating – from coaching the actors  to directing the show – from meetings and planning to coming up with the set design and working with the production team.

The Journey which started out as a musical fundraiser for Daniels Spectrum will have a few added elements this year. This year along with the three Emerging Artists Trevlyn Kay (5 Fingers 1 Fist) and Britta B (2013 Toronto International Poetry Slam Champion) with R&B singer-songwriter Steve Harmony. We also have 3 younger artists Simba Wetu, Limees Rizeig and Itzel Velázquez Martinez, who are all featured in the show. This show also stars Toronto Jazz and Blues Icon – Jackie Richardson (The Nina Project and Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God), acclaimed pianist Thompson Egbo-Egbo, gospel songstress Lisa Henry and stage veteran Jeremiah Sparks (The Lion King; Drum).  Oh and it doesn’t stop there. We have a Youth Chorus Ensemble directed by Jeremiah Sparks and a Youth Dance Ensemble choreographed by our lead choreographers Apolonia and Ofilio from Gadfly, and guest choreographers Charmaine Headley from COBA Dance Studios and Laurence Lemieux from Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie. We also have Moya Garrison as our Lead Artist (he was our youth lead artist in 2013) Moya and Gavin Leon his young apprentice created the beautiful painted backdrop you will see.  And finally we have our incredible live band made up of Toronto’s finest musicians lead by musical director Henry Heillig (from Juno Award-winning jazz band Manteca and Heillig Manoeuvre).

This project has been a huge part of my existence from August 2014 until right now. It has been amazing, challenging, a dream, and a chance for me to hone in on every single aspect of my creative and arts administrative skills. It’s funny because it seems as if directing large musicals may have been my predetermined future. At the age of 20 I directed Cindy’s Shoe at George Dixon Community Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia a large musical version of the modern day Cinderella that I wrote and directed starring youth from Uniacke Square that included present day R&B singer JRDN. Then in 1997 I did a 9 month residency at Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia and I was Assistant Director to Walter Dallas – director, playwright, musician, photographer, teacher and University of Maryland Faculty member. Walter brought one of his dreams to life and worked on the creation of the staged musical version of Cooley High. Sean Patrick Thomas was one of the leads in the play and that time at Freedom Theatre changed my life.  Now here I am directing a large musical that I also helped to write and am directing hmmmm.

And then in the middle of all of this the most amazing, ironic and incredible thing happened to me. My play She Said/He Said got into a professional theatre. She Said/He Said is a painful, comedic, musical, and dramatic look at Black Love in Toronto. It will have it’s World Premier produced by Black Theatre Workshop in Montreal at the MAI in the Spring of 2016. Though I have been a member of the Playwrights Guild since 2000 and I have performed in or had plays in Theatre Festivals this is my first play that will be on a Professional Equity Stage.

It’s all been hard to take in at times; doing all of this and simultaneously working on my own projects but I am meticulously organized and task oriented and I make sure I rest and eat healthy and that really helps. I told someone these are the things I wanted to happen 22 years ago when I graduated from the Dalhousie Theatre Program – but all things in their time.

Here are 3 links to articles, writes ups, about The Journey

ARTICLE IN NOW MAGAZINE

PLEASE READ ARTICLE IN THE BULLETIN

http://metronews.ca/news/toronto/1393456/new-musical-tells-the-story-of-torontos-regent-park/

 

 

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