In today's Urban Planner: an underground arts extravaganza, and a rock-and-roll X-Mess celebration.
- Festivals: For the second edition of the second year of the Long Winter “underground arts” variety extravaganza, there’s another stellar lineup of bands in the Great Hall, including Doldrums, Hooded Fang, and I Am Robot and Proud; another Long Night talk show downstairs in the Black Box, with host Vish Khanna interviewing guests like Rebecca Kohler and Bob Wiseman, with house band The Bicycles; and art installations and performances throughout the building, including the continuation of Henri Fabergé’s Fountain of Mouth. The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West), 7 p.m., PWYC. Details
- Music: Southern-fried and amplified collective White Cowbell Oklahoma has been entertaining the hometown crowd (us, here in Toronto) for the holidays annually for 10 years now. Their 10th Annual X-Mess will no doubt include the usual antics we’ve come to expect at a WCO show (burlesque! Explosions! Chainsaws!), in addition to special guests catl. and Mokomokai. Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor Street West), 9:40 p.m., $15.50. 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), 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
- Film: 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
- Art: 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
- Film: The rare retrospective to get a victory lap soon after its first run, TIFF’s recent spotlight on the nineteen acclaimed films from Japan’s much-admired animation studio gets a second lease on life with Spirited Away: The Films of Studio Ghibli. A major hit with families when it showed at TIFF Bell Lightbox last spring, the retrospective returns with some key modifications, including a couple of prized screenings of 1988’s Grave of the Fireflies, which was unavailable for the last round. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), 7 p.m., Adult (non-member) $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
- 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), 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., $24–$29. 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), 7:30 p.m., $35–$130. Details
- Theatre: Mainstage Theatre Company mixes comedy, music, and cuisine in its production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. This deliciously dark musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler follows the revenge quest of barber Sweeney Todd. After killing the judge who framed and banished him, his bloodthirst turns on his unwitting customers. Will he get away with it? And what is the secret ingredient in his business partner’s fabulous meat pies? Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue), 7:30 p.m., $30, $20 for 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: What happens when your common household plant develops a taste for blood? Well, naturally it turns into a feisty, R&B-singing beast vying for global domination. Or at least that’s what happens in the cult classic sci-fi spoof, Little Shop of Horrors. Check out this off-Broadway hit at the Lower Ossington Theatre during its three week run.
Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue), 8 p.m., $59. 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
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), 8 p.m., $35–$200. Details
- Theatre: Normally, there’s nothing funny about being broke, unemployed, and turning 33. But when this sob story is set to music and acted out by foul-mouthed puppets, you get the wildly popular Avenue Q. Follow Princeton, a recent college grad, as he learns a lot about life after moving to NYC with big aspirations and empty pockets. Please note that while this play might seem a lot like Sesame Street, it is absolutely not for children. (Unless you really feel like answering a ton of awkward questions about sex, porn, and drinking on the way home). Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue), 8 p.m., $49-$59. Details
- Theatre: Even as our free time becomes consumed with holiday parties, shopping, baking, and cuddling with the portable heaters under our desks, it’s still worth making a little time for an odd but impressive piece of indie theatre closing this Saturday. The Tin Drum is a new production with a long history: Chris Hanratty and Shira Leuchter of UnSpun Theatre have been working on an adaptation of Günter Grass’s 1959 novel of the same name for about six years, and with reason. The story is a sprawling tale that unfolds across generations, countries, and wars, and involves a large cast of characters and some magical realism for good measure. Bringing it to the stage, then, is an ambitious feat—but somehow this cast and crew mostly pull it off. Aki Studio Theatre (585 Dundas Street East), 8 p.m., $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.