Sarah Vickruck stars in the musical “Love Bomb,” playing Centre Stage at Surrey City Hall on Thursday, Nov. 15. (submitted photo)

‘Love Bomb’ play/concert in Surrey to spark talk about sex trafficking of youth

Pair of Shameless Hussy-produced shows at Centre Stage include one for local high-school students

A pair of actors are touring to Surrey with Love Bomb, a musical drama billed as “an intimate and emotionally brave look at sex trafficking of youth in Canada, which is more common than we think.”

Sarah Vickruck and Daune Campbell will twice perform the thought-provoking show – once in the afternoon for local high-school students and again during an evening public showtime – on Thursday, Nov. 15, at Surrey City Hall’s Centre Stage theatre.

The play is set at a bar in Prince George, where Vickruck’s character, a singer-songwriter named Justine, is booked to perform songs that weave a story about so-called “love bombing,” a tactic used by pimps and gang members to control their victims with gifts, attention and affection.

Meghan Gardiner’s acclaimed two-hander, which includes music and additional lyrics by Steve Charles, features Campbell as Lilian, a mother who has been travelling the province in search of a daughter she hasn’t seen for quite some time.

“She doesn’t know why her daughter’s missing, but she hears a song on Youtube sung by Sarah’s character, and (Lilian) is convinced that her daughter wrote the song, because it’s about the town where we’re from, Fort St. John,” Campbell explained in a recent phone interview. “And so I track down the singer to find out if she knows my daughter.”

The plot thickens, and Lilian finds out more than she bargained for.

“The story is told not only through the script, because the song’s have a story has well, in the lyrics, and so in hearing the lyrics of the songs, I discover more and more about where my daughter is and what’s going on.”

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)

Campbell and Vickruck recently spoke to the Now-Leader in a conference call from the Saskatchewan town of Leader, one stop on a month-long Love Bomb tour that concludes in Surrey.

The play is produced by Shameless Hussy, a Vancouver-based theatre company that has focused on provocative stories about women since 1992.

The 65-minute Love Bomb script has been edited and compressed since the play first appeared on a Vancouver stage in the fall of 2015.

• RELATED STORY: ‘Surrey Spectacular’ series features puppet show, music and more this year.

Vickruck, who was raised in Edmonton and settled in Vancouver early this decade, sings and plays a wide variety of songs in the show, including pop, country, rock and even metal.

Years ago, she almost gave up acting to focus on writing and performing music – skills that landed her a role in Love Bomb early on.

“So that got me back into acting again and sort of launched my acting career in a major way,” Vickruck said. “But on a more humanitarian level, human trafficking has been on my radar since before I moved to Vancouver, and before this show was even conceptualized.

“I have a friend who worked with an organization (that focuses) on labour and sex trafficking,” Vickruck continued, “and I’d written a song for an event she was hosting, so that’s when I started learn more about sex trafficking and what a problem it was in Canada, all that stuff. So when this show came around, I was not only qualified for it but had a history with the subject, the social message of it. I was pretty pumped about it. And every time I do this show and people see it, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, yes, this show is so important.’”

Campbell, who runs Axis Theatre, has come “full-circle” to act again with Shameless Hussy, a company she worked with for a decade, from 2003 to 2013.

She and Vickruck encourage high-school students to see the play, a “school performance” of which hits Surrey’s Centre Stage at 1 p.m. on Nov. 15; the public performance that evening starts at 7:30 p.m.

“When (Love Bomb) originally appeared at the Firehall (theatre, in Vancouver),” Campbell recalled, “there was an RCMP officer who saw that original production in 2015, the one Sarah was in, who saw it as this amazing tool that could be used to educate in schools, as opposed to just the RCMP going to the school to give a lecture about how this could happen to (students) and what’s going on in our country.

“So the idea was to show them this show and then speak to them,” Campbell added, “so it would have more lasting impact, and they were right. That’s what we’re trying to do, and that’s what theatre can do, and those discussions are happening, and they can be varied. The kids are kids, and they sometimes get nervous asking the question they really want to ask, so we’ve become pretty adept at leading the talk-back in a way that generates some really good questions, and answers, too.”

For the staging of Love Bomb in Surrey, at 13450 104th Ave., support workers will be available during and after the show. Audience members are encouraged to stay for the talk-back, an informal conversation with the cast and crew.

For tickets, priced at $32 and $22 depending on seat location, call 604-501-5566 or visit tickets.surrey.ca.

Those interested in bringing students to the 1 p.m. performance are asked to email Neil Scott at nscott@surrey.ca. A “teacher’s guide” to the show is posted on the city’s website, at surrey.ca/culture-recreation/27577.aspx.

The show comes with an audience advisory for mature themes and strong language.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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