In today's Urban Planner: Favourite photographic things, 10 years of funny, and an improvised soap opera.
- Photography: Ali Eisner is already known for being a puppeteer, composer, and performer. Now she adds another line to her resumé with her debut photography exhibit, “Favourite Things.” As one might expect, each photo in the show depicts a cherished moment, person, or item in her life—you’ll find shots of everything from travelling and architecture, to puppets and musicians such as Kathleen Edwards, Ron Sexsmith, and Serena Ryder. Join her for the opening reception on January 9. Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), 12 p.m., FREE. Details
- Comedy: In 2004. Gary Rideout Jr., Pat Thornton, and Tal Zimmerman formed the Sketchersons, and set out to establish an outlet for local comedic talent—the result was Sunday Night Live. Now, with over 200 shows, awards, and tours of North America under their belts, they present The Sketchersons 10-Year Anniversary Celebration. Join them for four nights of comedy, which will include year-specific “best of” shows featuring alumni casts and new content mashups. The weekend wraps up with a Best of 2013 spectacular. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., $2 in advance, or $10 at the door each night. Details
- Theatre: The fictional town of Belleville-ville, Ontario, is preparing to Enter 1975. Join the local drunk, priest, bus driver, and other town folk as they go about their daily lives and get ready for the new year in this improvised soap opera. Feeling creative? Bring some story ideas with you—the narrative proceeds according to audience suggestions. Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton Street), 8:30 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
- 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 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
- Theatre: You know what they say—things are better, down where it’s wetter. Keeping that in mind, why not escape the cold, and enter the underwater world of The Little Mermaid. Straying from the sugar-coated Disney version, Ross Petty’s production draws on Hans Christian Andersen’s story, tying in humour to make this family program both relevant and entertaining. Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge Street), 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., $34-$97. Details
- Theatre: The musical spoof is a theatrical genre all its own, and it’s one that thrives in the indie universe of the Fringe Festival circuit. Of course, it was at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival that The Musical of Musicals, The Musical! became a runaway hit. Its hokey, jokey sense of humour, hummable tunes, and highly experienced cast stood out from the hundred-plus other low-budget productions—so much so that David Mirvish plucked it from obscurity and placed it in the Off-Mirvish lineup. But until last Thursday, we had yet to see if its success so far was a Fringe fluke or the real deal. Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge Street), 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., $19 to $49. Details
- Dance: Ensure that visions of sugarplum fairies will be dancing in your head this holiday season by grabbing tickets to the National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker. Choreographed by James Kudelka, this dreamy story set in Imperial Russia has everything from snow queens to fight scenes, with rich costuming, a live orchestra, and compelling performances from some of the best in ballet. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West), 7 p.m., $25-$244. Details
- Theatre: Proving that Bible stories can be pretty entertaining, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat returns to the stage in Toronto for a short three-week run. This Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, with lyrics by Tim Rice, is based on the story of Joseph of Canaan’s “coat of many colours.” Debuted in the mid-70s, this is the first Lloyd Webber-Rice opera to ever be performed in public. Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Avenue), 7 p.m., $39-$59. Details
- Music: This new year, we dare you to broaden your horizons and do something you might not normally do—namely, attend the Musicians in Ordinary’s presentation of French Baroque Cantatas and Sonatas. Hallie Fishel and John Edwards make up the duo who pay tribute to early music primarily through voice and lute. One of their featured guests, Irish flutist Emma Zoe Elkinson, is proof that the instrument isn’t just for band geeks. She’s performed with U2, at the Vatican, and plays everything from pop music to traditional Irish pieces. Now that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Heliconian Hall (35 Hazelton Avenue), 8 p.m., $25, $20 students and seniors. 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.