In today's Urban Planner: shop for ethically produced gifts, take in Spanish jazz, or listen to Michael Ignatieff speak personally about politics.
- Markets: This year, avoid the malls (to some degree), and pick up ethically produced gifts for your loved ones. The Centre for Social Innovation’s Holiday Pop Up Market features handmade jewellery, educational packs for kids, and salvaged wood furniture from a variety of local artisans. Centre for Social Innovation (Annex) (720 Bathurst Street), 11 a.m., FREE. Details
- Music: Eliana Cuevas, Canada’s “reina latina” (Latin queen) brings her upbeat Spanish jazz compositions to the Four Seasons Centre as part of the Canadian Opera Company’s World Music Series. Join her as she performs songs off her highly anticipated new album Espejo, backed up by some of the country’s best jazz musicians—George Koller, Jeremy Ledbetter, Mark Kelso, and Daniel Stone. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West), 5:30 p.m., FREE. Details
- Books: About three-quarters of the way through his new political memoir, Fire and Ashes, Michael Ignatieff writes, “Voters rarely remember what you did for them yesterday. They’re interested only in what you’ll do for them tomorrow.” With Ignatieff due to visit the Toronto Reference Library‘s Bram & Bluma Appel Salon December 11 to discuss his volume of political misadventures, it’s worth asking: Why should voters care about the past actions of a politician who arguably never did anything for them in the first place? Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
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), all day, $27 (Includes general admission). Details
- Theatre: Since its humble beginnings in the back room of Toronto’s Tranzac club back in 2003, Evil Dead The Musical has steadily risen in infamy as a ridiculously fun, tongue-in-cheek, gore-soaked musical experience. From those earliest shows, the musical has gone on to make an off-broadway debut, to win and be nominated for several Dora awards, and to play in dozens of cities around the world, from Montreal and Vancouver to Tokyo and Madrid. It was high time that the show make a triumphant homecoming to a stage in Toronto, and it finally has, at the Randolph Theatre. The Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst St.), all day, $19.99–$79.95. Details
It’s not every day that a media tour opens with the injunction not to photograph “the sex blob,” but so began TIFF’s preview of “David Cronenberg: Evolution,” the organization’s first large-scale touring exhibition (for now, it’s stationed at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s HSBC Gallery). It’s an exhaustive, stunning look at some of the wildest, most perverse creations of a pioneer of the body-horror genre—who also happens to be Canada’s most internationally renowned filmmaker. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), 2:40 a.m., $15, $12 students, $5 Tuesdays. Details
Virginia Woolf once remarked that, “On or about December 1910, human character changed.” Whether it actually did is debatable, but the curators of “The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection 1910–1918” use that year to start their exhibition of works from a tumultuous decade of innovation in European fine art. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), all day, $16.50–$25 (includes general admission). Details
- Film: The films of Joel and Ethan Coen can be deliriously funny, wickedly macabre, and downright bizarre, often in the span of a single scene. Leading up to the release of their newest effort, Inside Llewyn Davis—a look at the folk scene in ’60s-era Greenwich Village, opening in Toronto on December 20—TIFF is offering audiences a chance to catch up on the duo’s uniformly excellent back catalogue. The ten-film retrospective is called Joel and Ethan Coen: Tall Tales. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), all day, $9.50–$12. Details
- History: Get into the spirit of the season with the help of Christmas in the Park at Colborne Lodge. The public is invited to tour the High Park founders’ home, which has been dressed up in festive Victorian decor. Era-appropriate foods and drinks will be provided to conjure the atmosphere of a 19th-century Christmas. Colborne Lodge, High Park (11 Colborne Lodge Drive), 12 p.m., $7.08 adults, $4.42 seniors/children. Details
- Theatre: Every revolution needs a leader. And though the movement to bring the classic 1980s musical Les Miserables back to Toronto is markedly different than the quest for political accountability and social equality, it has its hero just the same. After Wednesday night’s official opening performance at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the audience likely would have followed London-based, Richmond Hill-raised performer Ramin Karimloo (as the story’s golden-hearted protagonist, Jean Valjean) anywhere he would lead. Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King Street West), 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., $35–$130. Details
Theatre: Once upon a time, there was a film called Once. It was made for dirt cheap in 2006 by writer and director John Carney, shot in 17 days, and starred two unprofessional actors. Fast-forward seven years, and those stars—Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová—are Oscar winners, the movie has grossed almost US$9.5 million, and a Broadway musical based on the story walked away from the 2012 Tonys with eight awards, including Best Musical.
Now Toronto gets to take part in Once‘s Cinderella story, as the touring production continues its run at the Royal Alexandra Theatre until early 2014, rounding out Mirvish’s holiday offerings: Aladdin for the kids, Les Misérables for an outing with your parents, and for a romantic night at the theatre with your folk-music-loving significant other, this simple story of two broken-hearted Dubliners who find a connection through music. Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King Street West), 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., $35–$200. Details
- Music: If orchestral carols and singalongs get you into a festive mood, the TSO Pops Christmas is where you need to be. Conductor Steven Reineke will lead the evening, which will include performances from Ashley Brown—Broadway’s original Mary Poppins—and the Etobicoke School of the Arts Chorus. Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street), 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., $29-$110. Details
- Comedy: You might expect a show called We Can Be Heroes to be a send-up of superhero films, but Second City’s new mainstage production is actually a celebration of minor, everyday acts of heroism ranging from giving advice to a bullied child to managing not to be a jackass at your friend’s wedding. Second City (51 Mercer Street), 8 p.m., $24–$29. Details
- Comedy: Provocateur is part zombie apocalypse story, part spy thriller, and all improvised. Following an epidemic that has wiped out most of North America, the ruined Canadian and American governments find themselves facing a Soviet conspiracy. Complete with heavy Russian accents, Alice Moran, Roger Bainbridge, Adam Cawley, Conor Holler, Dan Jeannotte, Carmine Lucarelli, Lindsay Mullan, Briana Templeton, and Gavin Williams round out the cast of this witty improv comedy. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., $12 adults, $10 students. Details
- Theatre: The plot of Joan MacLeod’s The Valley, on now at Tarragon Theatre, is unfortunately all too familiar: an 18-year-old recent college drop-out experiences his first psychotic episode on Vancouver’s SkyTrain. The exhausted police officer called to the scene arrests him for causing a public disturbance, spurring debate over whether or not he used excessive force in the process. A Toronto audience only has to think of Sammy Yatim’s shooting this August to be reminded how common these situations are. A perceived threat to public safety coupled with the absence of a solid understanding of mental illness can—and often does—lead to violence. Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue), 8 p.m., $21–$53. Details
- Theatre: They’re as fast as the Red Rocket, and able to leap over turnstiles in a single bound—they’re the Special Constables! Faced with a Metropass counterfeiting ring, former Constable Jameson reunites the once glorious TTC Transit Police force. Will they redeem themselves and save the city from corruption? Circlesnake Productions’ Alec Toller directs this action-comedy starring Colin Munch, Chris Wilson, Tim Walker and Mikaela Dyke. The Storefront Theatre (955 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., $20. Details
- Theatre: Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage is justifiably one of the most buzzworthy plays of the past decade, a status it attained partly as a result of an acclaimed production on Broadway starring James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels—and the 2011 Roman Polanski film adaptation. But besides star power and Reza’s intricate writing, its popularity can also be attributed to an easy marketing sell: two couples meet to discuss a physical altercation between their two 11-year-old sons. Simply imagining the sparks to ensue practically causes ticket money to fly out of your hands. Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge Street), 8 p.m., $19–$69. Details
- Theatre: Theatre Columbus had a hit on its hands with The Story, a walkabout Nativity show that ranged around the Evergreen Brick Works. This year, it has a new holiday tale, Weather the Weather, written by last year’s Virgin Mary, Haley McGee. McGee, who’s been busy touring the world with her own solo show (and premiering George F. Walker’s latest play), was “inspired by winter, the Canadian Shield, and our spirited compulsion to get home for the holidays.” There’s a free shuttle service from Broadview Station that’ll take audience members down into the valley to the Brick Works, and back again after the show. Evergreen Brick Works (550 Bayview Avenue), 8 p.m., PWYC–$32. Details
- Theatre: New theatre group Company Kid Logic is bringing Saskatoon playwright Rob van Meenen’s new play Repetitive Strain Injury to Toronto for its world premiere. The dark comedy, about a group of thirtysomethings who get tangled together in love and lust, features a cast drawn from across Canada with a fair amount of TV credits, including Robin Dunne (Sanctuary), Amy Matysio (Insecurity), and Pat Kiely (Being Human.) Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street), 8 p.m., PWYC–$25. 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.