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Urban Planner: December 17, 2013

In today's Urban Planner: watch Scrooge learn a few lessons, glory in Handel's Messiah, and eat your heart out.

TSO Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis leads a 2010 TSO Messiah performance. Photo by John Loper.

  • Books: Clown sisters Morro and Jasp are giving a new (happier) meaning to “eating your feelings” with their new cookbook. Eat Your Heart Out With Morro and Jasp is stocked with plenty of easy-to-make recipes designed to match every mood. Join them for an evening of live music and free food (naturally) to celebrate the book’s launch. Drake Hotel Underground (1150 Queen Street West), 6 p.m., FREE. Details
  • Theatre: What has 5 actors, over 30 characters, masks, puppets, and a trunk? The Humber River Shakespeare Company presentation of A Christmas Carol, of course! Join them for a special one-night performance of the classic Dickens tale about ghosts, greed, and redemption at the atmospheric Casa Loma. Casa Loma (1 Austin Terrace), 7 p.m., $20 for adults, $10 for children + service fees. Details
  • Poetry: Patrick de Belen takes the spotlight at this month’s Queen Gallery Poetry Night. A spoken word artist, storyteller, and youth worker, Patrick is the youngest National Champion of the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Join him for a special performance, and perhaps even get on stage yourself to share your own writing or music during the open mic portion of the evening. Queen Gallery (382 Queen Street East), 7 p.m., $5 suggested donation. Details
  • Film: Witches are all the rage these days, thanks to American Horror Story. It’s no surprise then, that Queer Fear has chosen The Craft for its final screening of the year. Sponsored by The Black Museum, this monthly movie showcase focuses on films that fall within the sub-genre of gay horror, as well as queer themes in mainstream cinema. Videofag (187 Augusta Avenue), 8 p.m., FREE. Details
  • Music: Few things signal the arrival of Christmas better than Handel’s Messiah. Revel in this timeless oratorio, performed by the united talents of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Led by Christopher Warren-Green, each night includes spotlight performances by internationally renowned soloists—Klara Ek, Lawrence Zazzo, John Tessier, and John Relyea. Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street), 8 p.m., $33-$109. 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 eighteen 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
  • Sports: When could you benefit more from a yoga session than during the most stressful time of year? The Shops at Don Mills urges you to take a break from the retail madness and partake in its Holiday Karma Yoga. Regardless of your skill level, grab a mat and head over to the Holiday Studio in the Town Square to join a free yoga session, courtesy of Titika. The donation of a new, unwrapped toy for the Toronto Fire Fighters’ Toy Drive is suggested in lieu of admission. Shops at Don Mills (1090 Don Mills Road), 7 p.m., FREE with donation of a new toy. 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
  • 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
  • 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

Happening soon:

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.