In today's Urban Planner: a guided tour of the Distillery District, the final concert in the La Belle Éparkdale series, and Eamon McGrath begins his residency at The Dakota Tavern.
- Outdoors: School may be out, but that doesn’t mean young minds can’t stay active while enjoying the outdoors. Gather the kids up for a Family Nature Walk in pursuit of fairies and gnomes. Follow their trails through the mystical woods of High Park and offer them help. Appropriate for children of all ages. High Park Nature Centre (440 Parkside Drive), 1 p.m., $2 or PWYC. Details
- History: Why not make your next trip to the Distillery District a learning experience? Join ROMWalks for a guided walking tour through the historic neighbourhood. Find out what purpose these iconic buildings originally served, how they’ve been adapted for modern use, and what role they played in the War of 1812. In front of Little Trinity Church (King Street East and Trinity Street), 6 p.m., FREE. Details
- Music: Go back in time and dance the night away to the nostalgic sounds of The Dreamboats. The group will provide a soundtrack of classics by Buddy Holly, The Beatles, and other golden hitmakers while attendees watch the sun set over the city from Casa Loma’s terrace with drinks in hand, and maybe even some barbequed delights. Casa Loma (1 Austin Terrace), 7 p.m., $10. Details
- Dance: Princess Productions presents four days of contemporary movement during the Dance: Made in Canada festival. Serge Bennathan, Yvonne Ng, and Cylla von Tiedemann have curated three series, showcasing a total of seven dance works performed by artists from across Canada. A special late-night series entitled What You See Is What You Get boasts 10-minute pieces from choreographers who are chosen on a lottery basis. Betty Oliphant Theatre (404 Jarvis Street), 7 p.m., $10–$25. Details
- Music: The third and final concert in the La Belle Éparkdale series goes a little bit country with performances from Carolyn Mark, Luther Wright, and Dennis Siemens. The brainchild of Miranda Mulholland (Great Lakes Wimmers, Belle Starr), each show takes place in an obscure venue, evoking the intimate settings boasted by the salons of La Belle Époque. Era-appropriate snacks will be provided by Krysta Oben. Quinn West Salon (1479 Queen St. West), 8 p.m., PWYC–$10. Details
- Music: Folk-punk rocker Eamon McGrath is making the best of summer with a residency at The Dakota Tavern. He’s curated a plethora of Canadian bands to take the stage with him every week, ranging anywhere from country to brash rock and roll. Donovan Woods kicks off the series on August 14, followed by acts like Nick Everett (August 28), Camp Radio (September 18), and many more. Dakota Tavern (249 Ossington Avenue), 9 p.m., $6. Details
History: The name “Mesopotamia” derives from a Greek term meaning “land between the rivers.” The Royal Ontario Museum’s latest major exhibit, which opens on June 22, takes this literally, as visitors flow between painted representations of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on the floor.
Presented by the British Museum and rounded out with pieces from institutions in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, “Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World” covers 3,000 years of human development in the cradle of urban civilization. Most of the 170 artifacts on display have never been shown in Canada. Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park), $27 (Includes general admission). Details
- Theatre: If Fringe and SummerWorks aren’t enough to satisfy your summer theatre cravings, the world-renowned Stratford Festival is now only a bus ride away from downtown Toronto, thanks to the new Stratford Direct bus route (“the best thing [the Festival] has done in years” according to one usher at the Avon Theatre). Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino has put together a season to please tastes from the traditional to the extravagant. Here’s what we think about five of Stratford’s current productions. Multiple venues, $25–$175. Details
- Art: Flight: A Thrilling History of an Idea is a new exhibition from the Toronto Reference Library that gathers a number of rare items that explore the theme of the possible and the impossible. Some of the highlights on display are La vingtième siècle: la vie électrique (a rare French book that shows how scientific discoveries would have affected people in 1955), Tame (a sci-fi pulp magazine), and Worldly Wisdom (watercolour that depicts a Leonardo da Vinci-like figure creating a winged flying machine). You’ll find the exhibition in the library’s TD Gallery. Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street), FREE. Details
- Film: When Animal House first turned the toga into suitable party attire in 1978, the landscape of the film comedy was forever altered. TOGA! The Reinvention of American Comedy, a new film series that kicked off Wednesday at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, seeks to chart the changing comedic sensibilities that have occurred in the years since the film’s release. From big budget blockbusters, to libido-fuelled sex romps, to carefully calibrated exercises in nuance and timing, the selections in the program are some of the funniest films ever made. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), $8.50–$12. Details
- Music: Although SummerWorks is best known as a theatre festival, the SummerWorks Music Series has developed a reputation for shows that combine music, theatre, and visual art in unexpected ways. Here are a few of them that we’re particularly looking forward to. Multiple venues, Various prices. Details
- Festivals: As with so many of Toronto’s arts festivals, every year SummerWorks seems to get bigger. Bigger as in more shows, bigger as in bigger names, bigger as in international reach, and bigger in terms of its importance in premiering exciting new work. Two major hits from last year’s festival, Iceland and Terminus, have since been seen on larger stages.
- Music: Go on, escape the office for an extended lunch break and take in the tastes and sounds of Fresh Wednesdays. Each week, a different Canadian artist performs as you purchase baked goods and locally-grown produce from the farmer’s market. Pop singer-songwriter Justin Dubé kicks off the concert series, followed by Beat Café featuring poetry by Raine Maida (July 17), rising folk-pop stars Emma Lee and Peter Katz (August 7), and more. Nathan Phillips Square (100 Queen Street West), 12:30 p.m., FREE. Details
- Theatre: Evergreen Brick Works may be a cool place to ride a bike or check out a farmer’s market, but it also has a rich history that many people don’t know about. Memory in the Mud brings light to these stories with a unique style of roving, interactive theatre courtesy of Words in Motion. Learn about the people who lived and worked at Brick Works throughout the years, including German prisoners of war and those who were left homeless during the Great Depression. Young Welcome Centre, Evergreen Brick Works (550 Bayview Avenue), 1 p.m., $5 children, $10 adults. Details
Theatre: Musical theatre has a reputation for sometimes being out of touch and old-fashioned, so the prospect of Mirvish Productions bringing a tour of Cole Porter’s 1934 musical Anything Goes to Toronto wasn’t especially heartening at first—even if this particular production, by New York City’s Roundabout Theatre Company, won three 2011 Tony Awards.
But say, pal, wouldn’t you know, we were downright tickled to have such a good time at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The jokes are still corny, the songs still melodramatic, and the script still has some pretty racist content, but the show manages to transcend its era. Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King Street West), 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., $29–$130. Details
- Games: If you’ve never played Settlers of Catan, you’re probably wondering what could be more dull than spending your evening playing a board game about old-timey landowners. But that’s because you haven’t played it, yet. Gladstone Hotel aims to change that with their Summers of Catan program. Every Wednesday, gather with other Catan-fans, drink specially discounted beer, and get settled! Bring your own boards, or use those provided. Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), 6 p.m., FREE. Details
- Dance: Like something out of a movie (except, you know, Footloose), you can spend your summer nights dancing in the open air of the Town Square. Join Dexter and Janice of DjDance as they lead Latin Salsa classes twice a week, all summer. Shops at Don Mills (1090 Don Mills Road), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
- Theatre: Perhaps Soulpepper’s most ambitious theatrical project yet, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America is a seven-hour epic set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis of the 80′s and 90′s. The play earned a Pulitzer Prize and Tony awards (for the stage versions), and Golden Globes and Emmys (for the HBO miniseries.) Broken down into Parts I and II (sub-titled Millennium Approaches and Perestroika), the company is presenting the two plays in repertory on a nightly basis (save for Sunday evenings) and strongly urges viewers to see them in order. (Full day “marathons” begin in August.) There’s a video with director Albert Schultz and the cast’s thoughts on the project during rehearsal; previews being on July 19, with Millennium Approaches opening on July 31 and Perestroika) on August 1. Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), 7:30 p.m., $5-$68. Details
Theatre: In the 31st year of Shakespeare in High Park, Canadian Stage has programmed two productions that are performed on alternating evenings. The two plays could not be more different.
Both Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew involve manipulative spouses and deceptive plots—but where one ends in marriages and love, the other ends with bloodshed and terror. One is infamously problematic, and the other is one of Shakespeare’s most popular. And the two directors, Ted Witzel and Ker Wells, both of whom join Shakespeare in High Park after completing a directing program held in collaboration between Canadian Stage and York University, only exaggerate the differences. High Park Amphitheatre (1873 Bloor St. W.), 8 p.m., PWYC. Details
- Theatre: Revisiting history is more fun with a soundtrack, as you’ll find in The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream. Based on the story of one of rock’s most influential bands, this Broadway-show-meets-concert takes the audience back through the ’60s with hit songs like “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin’,” and “It’s a Beautiful Morning.” Produced and directed by the legendary Steven Van Zandt, the show combines performance, archival footage, live narrative, and film reenactments. Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King Street West), 8 p.m., $59–$200. Details
- Film: Love is in the air this summer as TIFF in the Park returns for another season of outdoor film screenings, showcasing the best romances from across the decades. Bring a blanket and get comfy on the lawn (yes, the Entertainment District has green space, too) to enjoy everything from Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, to Casablanca, Sleepless in Seattle, and The Notebook. David Pecaut Square (221 King Street West), 9 p.m., FREE. Details
- Film: Do you feel guilty about staying indoors in front of your TV when it’s nice outside? There’s a way around that—sitting by the lake and catching great films every week with Harbourfront’s Free Flicks. This year, NOW Magazine’s Norm Wilner has chosen a crop of imagination-stretching films from notable directors and writers. From Little Shop of Horrors, to The Triplets of Belleville, and That Thing You Do!, each title resides, at least a little bit, in the fantasy world. Harbourfront, WestJet Stage (235 Queens Quay West), 9 p.m., FREE. Details
- Games: Some people never outgrow their love of childhood outdoor games. If you’re one of them, you need to join the Manhunt Toronto network. Every week they stake out a different corner of the city to engineer a series of “radical” games of Hide and Seek, Capture the Flag, Freeze Tag, and Octopus in parks and urban spaces. Check their site to find out where to meet up each night. Multiple venues, 9 p.m., FREE. Details
Urban Planner is Torontoist‘s guide to what’s on in Toronto, published every weekday morning, and in a weekend edition Friday afternoons. If you have an event you’d like considered, email us with all the details (including images, if you’ve got any), ideally at least a week in advance.