The Journey – A Living History of the Regent Park Revitalization

Resurgent Community Stages The Journey –
A New Musical Chronicling Its Remarkable History
TORONTO, November 26, 2013 – As Toronto’s Regent Park undergoes the most ambitious urban renewal project in Canadian history, its dramatic story is being brought to the stage.
The Journey – A Living History of the Regent Park Revitalization is an 80-minute musical playing for two sold out nights — Nov. 28 and 29, 2013 — at Daniels Spectrum, the community’s new 60,000 sq. ft. cultural hub.
Using a powerful combination of spoken word narrative, song, film, still images and dance, The Journey documents Regent Park’s nearly 70-year history and it’s amazing revitalization – from challenged urban neighbourhood to thriving mixed-use community, infused with a newfound sense of hope.
The show is not only inspired by the real-life stories of its residents, it is being mounted by their collective talents, on stage and off.
These include award-winning Regent Park spoken word artists Trevlyn Kay and Britta B. (2013 Toronto International Poetry Slam Champion); Regent Park R&B singer-songwriter Steve Harmony; Regent Park School of Music graduate Charlotte Siegel and Dixon Hall alumnus and pianist Thompson Egbo-Egbo.
‘I’m blown away by the talent,” says Henry Heillig, musical director and co-founder of the jazz ensemble Manteca. “People will hear a lot from these youngsters. Their energy and creativity is just explosive.”
These future stars are backed by two electrifying, world-class performers — award-winning jazz and blues vocalist Jackie Richardson (Big Mama, the Willie Mae Thornton Story); and Dora award-winning singer/actor Sterling Jarvis (The Lion King; We Will Rock You).
“Working with the script and narrators over the past four months has been a very moving experience for me,” says Anne-Marie Woods creative director and Harry Jerome Award winner for Entertainer of the Year. “The songs are heartfelt; the poetic monologues will tug at your heart strings; as an audience member you will understand the incredible journey that the community has taken – you will truly become a part of the story.“
In short, The Journey is a theatrical creation about, for and largely by the Regent Park community.
“The audience will feel the emotion, anger and frustration, but also the steadfast determination that finally leads to change. They will experience the anxiety and sadness as the wrecking ball demolishes a lifetime of memories and feel the hope and exuberance as a bright new future emerges,” said Mitchell Cohen, President of The Daniels Corporation, who wrote the original script and composed the songs for The Journey.
Among the show’s musical segment highlights:
•Grannies on a Mission, the story of how a determined group of Regent Park grandmothers lobbied, campaigned and ultimately succeeded in persuading government to finance construction of a new community centre for Regent Park;
•Dancing Down the Avenue, which celebrates the 2010 opening of Cole Street (named for one of the leading activists Pat Cole, now deceased) — the first new public thoroughfare in Regent Park in 50 years;
•Don’t Go Out Tonight, a song that evokes the gritty reality of guns and violence that plagued the community for decades;
•Under One Roof, a song celebrating Daniels Spectrum as a new arts and cultural centre for the community to come together ‘under one roof’.
“We look forward to The Journey becoming a part of the community’s creative repertoire and be continually remounted by different generations of talent,” adds Cohen.
The Daniels Corporation will donate the show’s musical soundtrack to Toronto’s Artscape Foundation, which will use it to raise funds for youth programming such as ARTSPARK at Daniels Spectrum. Through the ARTSPARK program, youth conceive and produce cultural events, exhibitions and projects with guidance from industry mentors. These hands-on educational initiatives provide valuable life lessons in teamwork, and expose young people to career paths in the arts.
The complete soundtrack can be downloaded at, for a minimum donation of $15.
“Daniels Spectrum has been open for just over a year,” says Seema Jethalal, Managing Director of Daniels Spectrum. “But it has attracted an eclectic mix of folks from Regent Park and beyond.”
The vision for the Daniels Spectrum was developed from the ground up, through a process of community consultation, and is the result of six years of collaboration with project partners Artscape, Toronto Community Housing, The Daniels Corporation and members of the Regent Park community. The development of a new cultural hub was a key element in the social and community development goals of the Regent Park revitalization.
With more than 10 programmable spaces, Daniels Spectrum, a 60,000 square foot community cultural hub, plays host to, among others, the Regent Park School of Music, Native Earth Performing Arts, COBA Collective of Black Artists, Pathways to Education, the Regent Park Film Festival, ArtHeart Community Art Centre and the Centre for Social Innovation.
Local residents and members of the wider community are flocking to art and dance classes, music lessons, theatre collaborations and performances, after school tutoring, new media skills training and mentorship programming — all under the managerial auspices of Artscape.
“Daniels Spectrum is an inspiring place to be,” adds Jethalal, “we give thanks to the Mississauga of the New Credit Frist Nations for the land we are on, to the local Regent Park community for giving us purpose, and to the thousands of visitors who have brought this place to life.”
A public-private partnership between Toronto Community Housing and The Daniels Corporation, the Regent Park revitalization is a five-phase project that is transforming the long-neglected, 69-acre social housing development.
Over 15 years, 7,500 units will be built (for-sale-condominiums and townhomes plus rent-geared-to-income apartments and new affordable rental units) for 17,000 residents from diverse income levels.
A new six-acre park is under construction. Playgrounds, cafes, retail stores, an aquatic centre, community centre and the Regent Park Athletic Grounds are all a part of the community with Daniels Spectrum as the cultural heart.
New tree-lined streets – like Cole St. and Regent Park Boulevard – will organically reconnect Regent Park, which has been cut off for 50 years, to the city of Toronto.
As a result of the revitalization, over 600 jobs have already been created for local residents, many of whom are working in Regent Park at new retailers such as Tim Hortons, FreshCo by Sobeys, RBC and Paintbox Bistro.
WHAT: The Journey – A Living History of the Regent Park Revitalization, an 80-minute musical.
WHERE: Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas St. E., Toronto
WHEN: 8:00pm, Thursday, November 28 (sold out fundraiser in support of Daniels Spectrum) and 7:30pm, Friday, November 29, 2013 – Community Premiere – (Seats available for media only).
David Eisenstadt/Carol King/Rachel Yager
416-696-990 X 36/25/0;;
Creative Director: Anne-Marie Woods
Music Director: Henry Heillig
Regent Park Spoken Word Artist: Trevlyn Kay

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