In today's Urban Planner: listen to a lot of tubas, help design an urban park, and follow the adventures of the USS Albatross.
- Music: While the tuba is not exactly a typical symbol of Christmas, a ton of tubas playing carols certainly conjures up the festive spirit! Low brass players, and anyone who wants to join in some singalong fun, are encouraged to gather at Nathan Phillips Square for the Holiday Tuba Festival, presented by the Coalition for Music Education. Nathan Phillips Square (100 Queen Street West), 12 p.m., FREE. Details
- Civic Engagement: Ontario Place is getting a new waterfront trail and urban park, and you can help design them. Attend the Ontario Place Public Meeting for an introduction to the Project Team, the designers, and their vision for the space. Questions, comments, and ideas on how to improve the proposal are welcomed. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building, Room 201 (255 Front Street West), 6 p.m., FREE. Details
- Music: The Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture and Carlos Bulosan Theatre join forces to help out those affected by Typhoons Haiyan and Yolanda. #ProjectLiftPH is one part auction, one part concert, and altogether a fun night to raise money for a good cause. Hosted by Sarah Taylor, the bill includes performances from MALOO (Maylee Todd’s solo project), Casey Mecija and Jenny Mecija of Ohbijou, DATU, and DJ Barbi. The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West), 6 p.m., $20 advance, $25 door. Details
- Comedy: The Dandies return to the stage for a very special Holiday edition of Holodeck Follies. Episode 11: HoloDeck The Halls sees the crew of the USS Albatross bring cheer to a group of Andorian refugees. Since this is a variety show, only some of the night’s improv is Star Trek-themed. The rest of the bill features performances from Ron Sparks, Slacks & Co., We Happy Few, Anesti & Co., and Alex Crawford. Black Swan Tavern (154 Danforth Avenue), 8 p.m., $7. 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
- 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: Winners and Losers is a play by Marcus Youssef and James Long based on a game of the same name the two theatre artists sometimes play. They pick a person, place, or thing, and debate whether it’s a “winner” or a “loser.” But it probably wouldn’t be fair to pick their director (and Crow’s Theatre artistic director) Chris Abraham as a topic, particularly since he was recently declared the winner of the Siminovitch Prize, Canadian theatre’s most prestigious (not to mention lucrative) honour. Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street), 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., Various prices. 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
- Theatre: The world is a shockingly small place; just being in it will inevitably, repeatedly, and involuntarily bring you face to face with people you’d rather not meet more than once. In the case of Linda Griffiths’ new play Heaven Above Heaven Below, the wedding of a mutual friend reunites two nameless characters, He and She, twenty years after a short-lived fling resulted in She getting an abortion (which Griffiths detailed in her 1991 hit The Darling Family, to which this is the real-time sequel). The premise is enough to make anyone swear off large gatherings with undisclosed guest lists. Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Avenue), 7:30 p.m., PWYC–$27.50. 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: 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
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.