In today's Urban Planner: paintings are born, holiday stories are shared, and horror movies get festive.
- Art: If you’ve ever wanted to see art being born in a flurry of imagination, this is your chance! Art Battle Canada, and ArtBomb presents the Holiday Art Bash, where 12 artists are provided with a blank canvas, and 45 minutes to create a contest-winning painting. Attendees are able to watch each piece come to fruition, and bid on them in the auction afterwards. And did we mention that that guests will be treated to free poutine? There will be free poutine! Steam Whistle Brewing (255 Bremner Boulevard), 7 p.m., $45. Details
- Performing Arts: Pressgang Theatre wants you to get into all sorts of festive moods, with its Non-Denominational Holiday Spectacular. Cozy up with friends, family, or whoever you want to bring, and enjoy an evening of storytelling. Graham Isador, Tom Arthur Davis, Sima Sahar Zerehi, Acey Rowe, and Alex Julia P are some of the local writers and performers who will be taking the mic to share their holiday-based tales. Dressing in formal wear and/or holiday sweaters is highly encouraged.The Handlebar (159 Augusta Avenue), 8 p.m., $10 suggested donation. Details
- Art: Art reflects art in the Still Moving movie poster show. Using illustration, a selection of Toronto artists have interpreted pivotal scenes from the classic works of Kubrick, Spielberg, Wes Anderson, and PT Anderson. Check out their visions at the opening reception, and perhaps grab a print for the film buff in your life. The exhibit will be on until January 12. HUNTCLUB (709 College Street), 8 p.m., FREE. Details
- Film: We all know that true horror fans don’t take a break for the holidays, so why not combine the two themes? Cue Little Terrors Volume 23: Violent Night. Sponsored by Rue Morgue and Unstable Ground, this monthly short-film showcase goes festive with eight bloody, terrifying, and yet slightly Christmasy pieces. Get into the spirit with Jason Eisener’s Treevenge, Astron 6′s Breaking Santa, Ryan Lightbourn’s Roid Rage: The Christmas Special, among others. Carlton Cinemas (20 Carlton Street), 9 p.m., $10. 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
- 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
- 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: 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: 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
- 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
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.