(All photos from The Journey 2016's dress rehearsal, photos by Yasin Osman)

The Journey – A Living History Of The Regent Park Revitalization, is a musical theatre production and fundraiser presented by Innocon. The play first took to the stage on November 7 and closed, this weekend, on November 10 at Daniels Spectrum.

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The venue itself is a cultural hub in Regent Park, located at 585 Dundas Street East. It opened to the public in September 2012. The space is a joint venture between Artscape, Toronto Community Housing, The Daniels Corporation and the Regent Park community.

“Rooted in Regent Park, Open to the World,” Daniels Spectrum is home to many outstanding arts-based and community-focused organizations that make Daniels Spectrum a true part of the Regent Park community.

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The Purpose:

"The Journey" is one such organization and gives youth performers the unique opportunity to gain and develop a deeper understanding of artistic skills through professionals in specific disciplines like voice, dance, and acting.

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Since 2015, Regent Park resident Limees Rizeig has been a part of the ensemble cast. This year The Journey welcomed her back in the starring role of Afiya.

Limees illustrates exactly why this production matters.

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Heela Omarkhail, Co-Writer and Co-Producer of The Journey reiterated that the project's focus has always been on the youth of the community, like Limees, and the stories the area has to tell.

She writes; “It has been incredible to witness sold out audiences from across the city applaud local artists and professionals sharing the stage to tell the stories of the Regent Park community. This type of investment has allowed young performers to develop their artistic talent and become stars in their own right. The Journey demonstrates the transformative power of the arts at both the community and individual level.”

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The Journey first kicked off in 2012, followed by new iterations in 2013, 2015, 2016.  Since 2012, The Journey has raised over $3 million in support of youth arts programming and sustainability at Daniels Spectrum, in addition to local economic development with training and employment opportunities.

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The Story:

Inspired by true events, The Journey is written by Daniels’ President Mitchell Cohen, Co-Producer Heela Omarkhail and Director Kate Fenton in collaboration with the Regent Park community and is under the musical direction of Henry Heillig.

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The musical tells the story of the impact of revitalization on the resilient tight-knit community of Regent Park.  Among the many residents, Afiya is a poignant teenage poet who shines through writing and performing and is confronted by her cultural gender role when her parents refuse to accept her art.  Meanwhile, an eye-opening trip to St. Vincent awakens some boys from the neighbourhood to a new understanding about life at home.

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Returning cast members include world-class performers Jackie Richardson (Granny), Alana Brightwater (Alana) and Jeremiah Sparks (Dread) together with multi-talented local artists Trevlyn Kennedy (Sandy), Jael Jones Cabey (Tameeca) and Jahni Boodoo-Nelson (Raffi).

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The Journey is the strong heartbeat of the people of Regent Park, all that is lost and gained, as their community quickly transforms around them.