In today's Urban Planner: a forest of books, burlesque revealed, and cult horror.
- Books: In the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading program, children are encouraged to read and then vote for their favourite books in their age category. The competition culminates in the Festival of Trees, a two-day event that will see the announcement of each winner as well as many fun book-related activities, including workshops with featured authors. Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West), 10 a.m., $15. Details
- Performing Arts: Every month, experienced burlesque dancers gather to show the new girls the ropes—among other things—for your viewing pleasure. Spearheaded by the Toronto School of Burlesque‘s Red Herring, Reveal Me at the Rivoli aims to get you drunk and full of sugary snacks while making you blush over the best pro and amateur dancers this city has to offer. Put on your best outfit and prepare to be seduced by Gracie Klutz, Maria Juana, Agatha Frisky, Paige la Pearl, Regina Dentata, Papavera Smalls, Moxie Misfit, and Kelly Mari. The Rivoli (334 Queen Street West), 8 p.m., $10. Details
- Film: Guess what? The folks behind The Black Museum lecture series have found the key to eternal happiness. They’ll tell you what it is once you… join them. Joking aside, if you’re a fan of all things dark, bloody, and macabre, you WILL want to join them for this presentation on Religious Cults in Horror. Journalist Alison Lang will take the hallowed stage to discuss depictions of cults in movies like Helter Skelter, The Wicker Man, and My Life in Orange, and examine how close they are to the real thing. Royal Cinema (608 College Street), 9 p.m., $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Details
- Art: If The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors has a mascot, it’s Emperor Yongzheng. The image of the 18th-century Chinese ruler dominates the promotional material of the exhibition, which is one of the centrepieces of the Royal Ontario Museum’s centennial year. His portrait certainly has visual appeal, but Yongzheng is also a figure associated with surprising elements of life within the former imperial palace. Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park), all day, $27 adults. Details
Art: “The greatest art always returns you to the vulnerabilities of the human situation.” – Francis Bacon
“In the human figure one can express more completely one’s feelings about the world than in any other way.” – Henry Moore
These quotations, which welcome visitors to “Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty,” immediately establish the exhibition’s tone and focus. Each artist’s distortions of the human figure, shaped by their wartime experiences, capture the vulnerability of our mortal forms. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), all day, $25 adults. Details
- Theatre: Up until Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez made that movie, the word “Gigli” was associated with images of beauty, the splendour of the opera, and, more specifically, the renowned Italian tenor Beniamino Gigli. In Irish playwright Tom Murphy’s The Gigli Concert, originally written in 1983 and on stage now at Soulpepper Theatre, the singer’s voice represents not only beauty, but hope itself—the one saving force that can pull its two central characters from deep depressions. And, thankfully, the journey to the other side is infinitely more watchable than the previously mentioned Hollywood film. Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., $29–$74. Details
- Theatre: If you’re in the mood for a murder mystery with a religious twist, you’ll want to check out The Last Confession. David Suchet (Poirot) and Richard O’Callaghan star in this play about the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I in 1978. After only 33 days in office, and having warned three cardinals that they would be replaced, he is found dead. Though the Vatican refuses to open an official investigation, Cardinal Benelli goes out in search of the truth. Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King Street West), 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., $35–$119. Details
- Dance: The Peggy Baker Dance Project is thinking outside the box with its new production, land|body|breath. Specially designed to exist between the paintings and sculptures of the Thomson Collection of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, this immersive show features a combination of dancers and vocalists. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), 7 p.m., Ticket included with AGO admission. Details
- Film: Hipster or not, you probably feel pretty smug when you experience something before it becomes popular. The Ryerson University Film Festival (RUFF) is the perfect opportunity to add to your “I saw it back when…” catalogue. The pieces that graduating School of Image Arts film students have been pouring their hearts and souls into all year will screen over the course of two days. Considering Ryerson’s track record of fostering creative minds, you might just see the next TIFF buzz film before anyone else does! Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West), 7 p.m., $12 per night, or $20 for two-night pass. Details
- Theatre: Outside the March seems to be Toronto’s favourite indie theatre company. Director Mitchell Cushman built up quite a buzz after consecutive hits Mr. Marmalade and Terminus, both of which were praised for their unconventional use of space (the former was set in a kindergarten classroom, the latter placed both the actors and the audience on the stage of the Royal Alexandra Theatre), so his next project had been highly anticipated. Vitals, written by Rosamund Small, was the first script for Outside the March developed specifically for a site-specific space, and its original run had to be extended even before opening night. Then, only a few days into the run, it was extended again to June 1. And though Vitals isn’t the best show in Outside the March’s history, there’s a reason that tickets have been flying. 149 Roncesvalles Avenue (149 Roncesvalles Avenue), 7:15 p.m., $25–$30. Details
- Theatre: We’re nearing the end of Tarragon Theatre‘s 2013/2014 season, and it appears we’ve also arrived at the final stage of its theme: love, loss, wine, and the gods. But that doesn’t mean the Tarragon, which has seen some major hits this year in Lungs, The Double, and The Ugly One, is phoning it in. Sean Dixon’s ambitious new script, A God in Need of Help, has produced not only one of the longer plays in the Tarragon season, but also easily the most dense and layered, mixing as it does historical fact and fiction with timeless issues of art, religion, and politics. Fortunately, that makes it the strongest mainstage show of the season thus far (we’ll see how Tarragon’s final show, The God That Comes, co-created by and featuring Hawksley Workman, performs in June). Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue), 8 p.m., $21–$53. Details
- Theatre: What’s brewing in Toronto’s theatre community? We’re glad you asked! The Big Ideas Festival is showcasing works-in-progress from the aspiring playwrights in the Alumnae Theatre’s New Play Development Group. Over the course of five days, the work of eight writers will take the stage—some full-length plays, and some selected scenes from upcoming productions. Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley Street), 8 p.m., FREE. 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.