Chameleon Jo Productions. It features a cast of local very talented young adults, all with good strong voices and a good deal of experience on the stage, one of the strongest casts I have seen in a long while, short of Broadway.
Now I do have to warn you, this is not a show for children. Cinderella it is not. The subject matter is mature, and not what one would call "pleasant or humourous." It deals with the subject of sex trafficking. Yes, we're all aware that sex trafficking exists.. we've heard of it in Thailand, or India, or Las Vegas. But it happens much closer to home than you would care to think. Young girls are taken from the streets of Maritime cities too... Halifax, Moncton, and yes even Fredericton. They are put on a circuit, and moved frequently so they are difficult to find. American stats tell us that sex trafficking is a $32 billion dollar a year industry in the U.S. victimizing between 300,000 and 400,000 American children every year. It is estimated there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, and 5.5 million of those are children. It's been proven that whenever and wherever there are large sporting events such a SuperBowl, the demand goes up.
The eXpendable storyline is fictional, but the characters represent stories that are very real. The cast do an amazing job of portraying very believable characters and you cannot help but become emotionally invested in their situation. (I will tell you there is no actual violence in the show, no one is harmed, but the suggestion of assault certainly is there...) This is not an easy show to perform, I'm sure. It is challenging and emotional, as well as being educational. We have a great deal of talent in our city; I know several of the actors and am so very proud of all of them. Actually I know one very well- she is my sweet young great-niece, Mallory. The youngest in the cast at 17, she plays a very convincing role as Lily, an innocent 14 year old who has just been coerced into the sex trade world. It was not easy to watch her be drawn into this world of control, abuse and assault. I admit I much preferred her previous roles as Ariel in the Little Mermaid and Belle in Beauty and the Beast. But we don't live in a Disneyland world, do we, we live in a real world where sex trafficking is a fact. I know her parents struggled with whether to let her participate in this project, and difficult as it was to watch her play this role on stage, it has been good for her, and I'm sure has opened her eyes to some of the harsh realities of life, good preparation for leaving home and heading off to university in another year. She is becoming a very good actress, clearly conveying her feelings with her facial expressions and body language before she even opens her mouth to share her wonderful voice. The years of training with voice lessons, TNB and school musicals is paying off...
After tonight's performance, the cast prepare to take this show to Ontario next week. Good timing with the Pan Am Games coming to Toronto soon... They will be doing two performances in Toronto, and one each in Hamilton and Welland. They still need to raise more money to cover their costs, so why not get yourself up to FHS tonight and take in the show. You will be amazed and impressed with the talent, I promise. And you will leave the theatre a different person.
"You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know."