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Weekend Planner: January 18-19, 2014

In this Weekend Planner: Mozart meets Egoyan, beginners meet WordPress, and fairy tales come to life.

  • Technology: Want to build your own website or blog, but have no idea where to start? Fear not, the Centre for Social Innovation is coming to the rescue with its WordPress for Beginners session. Enjoy a delicious lunch while learning the basics of building a site, choosing a theme, and customizing with widgets (and no one will laugh if you have to ask what a widget is). Computers and power cords will not be provided, so be sure to bring your own. Centre for Social Innovation (215 Spadina Avenue), Saturday at 10 a.m., $149 + HST. Details
  • Outdoors: We aren’t the only ones struggling our way through a cold and icy winter: there are plenty of animals sharing our pain. Bring the kids out for Staying Alive, a family nature walk through High Park to investigate the survival habits of non-migrating creatures like squirrels, chipmunks, insects, owls, and other birds. High Park Nature Centre (440 Parkside Drive), Saturday at 1 p.m., $2-$5 or PWYC. Details
  • Performing Arts: Join the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and PickleShoes Dance Company as they bring fairy tales to life. Once Upon a Time uses music and dance to convey scenes from Cinderella, Mother Goose, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Gather in the lobby half an hour before the performance to catch some storytelling by guests from the Toronto Public Library. Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street), Saturday at 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., $20-$36. Details
  • Theatre: What do you get when you combine Mozart and Atom Egoyan? Così fan tutte, a wryly comedic opera. Also known as The School For Lovers, it sees two couples struggle with issues of faith, desire, and temptation. The Canadian Opera Company welcomes the return of Egoyan, who will be directing this winter season opener. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West), Saturday at 7:30 p.m., $24-$365. Details
  • Markets: While antiquing and market-rummaging may be a cliché suggestion for a Sunday activity, we’re going through with it! The Leslieville Flea has moved inside for the winter, but it still boasts over 70 vendors peddling handmade items, and antiques, as well as restored and salvaged pieces. Fermenting Cellar (28 Distillery Lane), Sunday at 10 a.m., FREE. Details
  • Theatre: In 2006, the quiet town of Ipswich, England, was turned upside down by the discovery of five dead women. During this time, playwright Alecky Blythe recorded extensive interviews with the nearby residents. Set to music, these audio clips form the script to London Road, a raw piece of theatre illustrating tragedy’s ability to fortify a community. Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front Street East), Sunday at 2 p.m., $24-$99. Details

Ongoing…

  • 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), Saturday at 12 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.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
  • Theatre: The Next Stage Theatre Festival is back with a diverse and compelling slate of ten plays, all by artists who’ve previously contributed to the Fringe Festival. While a few of these shows have been produced at the Fringe, a number of them are brand new, and you have until January 19 to check out as many as you can. Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street), $15 Main/Studio, $10 Antechamber. Details
  • 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. Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), Saturday at 12 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m., FREE. Details
  • Dance: Get ready for three days of style, swagger, and grace with Dance Ontario’s Dance Weekend. The Fleck Stage at Harbourfront Centre will play host to over 20 artists in the genres including flamenco, b-boy, belly dance, and ballet. The programme will wrap up on Sunday night with a special gala to celebrate the lifetime achievement of Nadia Potts. Harbourfront Centre, Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West), Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.,7:30 p.m., $10, $25 for special presentation. Details
  • Theatre: Every revolution needs a leader. And though the movement to bring the classic 1980s musical Les Misérables back to Toronto is markedly different than the quest for political accountability and social equality, it has its hero just the same. After the 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), Saturday at 1:30 p.m.,7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m., $35–$130. Details
  • Theatre: Minimalism is taken to a new level in the Theatre Department’s Pith! It’s 1931, and Jack Vail is cooped up in a living room with a grieving widow and her stoic housekeeper. With only four chairs, a phonograph, and imagination at his disposal, he takes them away on a South American jungle adventure. Directed by Ron Jenkins, this award-winning play stars Ron Pederson, Daniela Vlaskalic, and Amy Matysio. Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Avenue), Saturday at 2 p.m.,7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., $20, PWYC on Tuesdays. Details
  • Theatre: Rarely Pure Theatre brings Shakespeare’s As You Like It to the Storefront Theatre, one of the city’s new alternative presentation spaces. The company gives the story, which sees love and friendship complicated by sexual tension and gender confusion, a distinctly Canadian twist by moving the action to a wintery wonderland. The Storefront Theatre (955 Bloor Street West), Saturday at 2 p.m.,8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., $20, $15 students/seniors/arts workers. Details
  • Theatre: Let’s face it: being a twenty-something can kinda suck. Pumped full of confidence and aspirations, we flee the family nest…and fall flat on our faces. Avenue Q uses songs (written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) and puppetry both to lament and poke fun at this difficult time. Much like Sesame Street, it has a cast made up of human actors who interact with a variety of furry creatures, who themselves have hands up their butts. Think that description is tasteless? This might not be the show for you—these puppets are crude and lewd, and have a taste for alcohol and porn. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue), Saturday at 2 p.m.,8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m., $49-$59. Details
  • Theatre: Cameron and his grandmother share a special tradition: every Thursday night, they escape into the golden age of film together. A musical about unconditional love, The Way Back to Thursday takes us through the changes in this relationship as Cameron grows older and more distant. Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue), Saturday at 2 p.m.,7:30 p.m., PWYC-$32.50 + HST. Details
  • Theatre: While vacationing on the Irish Coast, a couple discovers the body of a drowned woman, awakening issues that have been dormant in their marriage. Based on the novel Une vie pour deux, Evelyne de la Chenelière’s Flesh and Other Fragments of Love is a play that straddles the line between detective mystery and ghost story, and examines issues of human intimacy. Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue), Saturday at 2:30 p.m.,8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m., $21-$48. Details
  • Theatre: German theatre has gone over really well in Toronto in recent years. Playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig’s contribution to Volcano Theatre’s Africa project was widely praised, and twinwerks//zwillingswerk’s production of Felicia Zeller’s Kaspar and the Sea of Houses earned the company an outstanding production award at the 2011 SummerWorks (and a trip back to 2012′s festival). Now, Theatre Smash returns with Marius von Mayenburg’s The Ugly One, a clever slice of absurdism that works well on several levels. There’s light humour when the titular character discovers that everyone finds his face repugnant, and darker tones when his new, beautiful face becomes coveted obsessively by those around him. Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue), Saturday at 2:30 p.m.,8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m., $13–$53. Details
  • Theatre: Nine actors will play roles in Shakespeare’s classic tragedy completely faithfully and professionally. And the lead character, this show’s titular Drunk Macbeth, will take a wee dram before every one of his entrances. All 15 of them. Given the demands on the Scotsman (and his liver), there’s a fresh one on the second night: Geoffrey Armour plays the role (and takes the drinks) on January 17, and Peter Nicol on January 18. The audience will get to see whether the show goes off the rails or the cast is able to shepherd the increasingly intoxicated Macbeth to the play’s bloody denouement. (For a great example of a cast helping an erratic Macbeth to a triumphant finish, prep yourself with this Slings & Arrows scene.) The Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick Avenue), Saturday at 7 p.m., $18-$30. Details
  • Outdoors: It’s time to lace up! Harbourfront Centre has brought back its weekly DJ Skate Nights at Natrel Rink, overlooking the lake. Make the best of winter, and get your skate on to the sounds of some of Toronto’s premiere DJs and party-makers, like Skratch Bastid (Dec 14), Cherry Bomb (Feb 1), and DJ Starting from Scratch (Feb 22). Natrel Rink, Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West), Saturday at 8 p.m., FREE. Details
  • Theatre: With a minimalistic set, some vintage guitars, and a rock n’ roll soundtrack, Deanna Jones takes on the persona of one of music’s most notorious figures. Humourous and introspective, The Keith Richards One Woman Show leads audiences through the highs and lows of the Rolling Stones guitarist’s often ridiculous life. Fixt Point Studio (1550 Queen Street West), Saturday at 8 p.m., $15. Details
  • Theatre: The Canadian Alliance of Film & Television Costume Arts & Design (CAFTCAD) brings actress Susan Claassen’s one-woman show, A Conversation With Edith Head, to Buddies in Bad Times Theatre for a short weekend run. These days, Head is probably best known as the inspiration for Edna Mode in The Incredibles, but the costume designer clothed many of Hollywood’s most enduring celebrities from the ’20s to the ’80s, winning eight Oscars. Claassen tailors each show to the city she’s in, and answers audience questions in character, so film buffs might want to brush up on the films shot here in Toronto from Head’s 1,000 plus body of work. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street), Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m., $35–$40. Details
  • Markets: Winter might make us want to hibernate and rely solely on the stock of food in the freezer, but don’t let it! Come out to Steam Whistle’s Winter Farmer’s Market to pick up fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and organic meats—all the while supporting local farmers. It’s worth venturing out into the cold, don’t you think? Steam Whistle Brewing (255 Bremner Boulevard), Sunday at 10 a.m., FREE. 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.

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