As summer's close nears, we focus on screenings, Shakespeare, food and art festivals, and booming beats—all outdoors.
Urban Planner is your weekly curated guide to what’s on in Toronto—things that are local, affordable, and exceptional.
Monday August 22
The annual BackDoora Awards, presented by Jennifer Walls and her weekly SINGular Sensation open mic night, celebrates Toronto musical theatre on the fringe (much of it at the Fringe) and is a cheeky homage to the Dora Mavor Moore Awards. Now in its fourth year, it’s attracting more and more (other) award-winning guest presenters and performers; there’s over a half-dozen Dora winners among the presenters of the largely frivolous (but sincere) award’s dollar store statuettes, including past Dora Awards hosts Bruce Dow and Gavin Crawford. (Full disclosure—I’ll be presenting an award, too.) A new feature this year: frequent SINGular Sensation guest host Jenna Warriner will be conducting a pre-show red carpet report on Facebook Live. Statler’s Lounge (487 Church Street), red carpet at 9 p.m., show at 10 p.m., FREE.
Tuesday August 23
Site-specific theatre company Outside the March, which won the Best Production award earlier this month at SummerWorks, has many projects in development, and they’re showcasing four of them through excerpted form in Pop-Up Experience. Just 30 patrons a show will get to see work-in-progress by musical wunderkinds Anika and Britta Johnson, verbatim documentarian Robert Motum, Halifax’s Gillian Clark, and Marcus Jamin, who did the puppets for Outside the March’s hit show Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play. Some of the performances, which require some light walking between venues, are already sold out so don’t delay. 899 Queen Street East, August 23–28, 8 p.m., Sunday August 23 2:30 p.m. matinee, $25.
Weekly stand-up show Comedy Underground has a special charity edition this week—with all proceeds benefiting Artbound and War Child Canada—and an especially good line-up. Comics on the bill include Arthur Simeon, Todd Graham, Evany Rosen, and host Steve Patterson (of CBC’s The Debaters). Drake Hotel Underground (1150 Queen Street West), 8 p.m., $10.
The Open Roof Festival wraps up its summer run this week with two nights of indie films and music programming. Tonight’s opener band is Yuka, a seven piece R&B outfit, and the film is Closet Monster, which was critically acclaimed at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival; it’s a queer coming-of-age story of a young Newfoundlander (Connor Jessup) with a movie makeup obsession and a talking hamster (voiced by Isabella Rossellini). Wednesday night’s band is Most People, whose debut EP we called “catchy, hooky, melodic, and smart“; the closing film is the family-friendly comedy Hunt For The Wilderpeople, starring silver screen veteran Sam Neill and newcomer Julian Dennison as an unlikely pair on the lam in the New Zealand bush. 99 Sudbury Street, 7 p.m. both nights, $15.
Wednesday August 24
Critically acclaimed outdoor theatre company Shakespeare in the Ruff has put unique spins on their previous shows, including puppetry in last summer’s production of Macbeth. This year, their take on Romeo and Juliet features same-sex star-crossed lovers, with Vivien Endicott-Douglas and Kaitlyn Riordan in the starring roles. Every Ruff show features locally sourced pre-show entertainment, usually an east end musician, followed by the main event. Withrow Park (Logan Avenue and Bain Avenue), August 19–September 4, Tuesday to Sunday, 7:30 p.m., PWYC.
The final movie in the Regent Park Film Festival’s Under The Stars outdoor screenings is in tribute to a titan of entertainment we lost this year. Purple Rain cemented many defining elements of Prince’s public persona, such as his captivating stage presence and his idiosyncratic sense of style. The film’s rated R, so viewer discretion is advised, but they’ll be screening it in public all the same (in the event of non-purple rain, the screening will move across the street and indoors to Daniels Spectrum). Regent Park (620 Dundas Street East), 7 p.m., FREE.
More R-rated entertainment: members of Rage Against the Machine, joined by Chuck D of Public Enemy and B-Real of Cypress Hill, are touring under the banner of Prophets of Rage with some very strong opinions on the state of politics south of our border. Fans of all three original bands will surely be willing to listen to their heroes’ political opinions, leavened with performances from all three group’s musical catalogs. Molson Amphitheatre (909 Lake Shore Boulevard West), doors at 6 p.m., $30–$99.50.
Thursday August 25
This month’s edition of the Cloud Comedy show promises to look back over the past summer—but you know they’re going to put a “weird” slant on those hazy memories. Regular co-host Chris Wilson is joined by special guest co-host Marty Topps, while the line-up of comics willing to do “weird stuff” includes Sarah Hillier, Laura Cilevitz of sketch troupe Get Some, and Monica Heisey (Baroness von Sketch Show). Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor Street West), 9:30 p.m., $8 in advance, $10 at the door.
Friday August 26
It’s one of the last festivals of the summer, so make the most of it! Luckily, TAIWANfest‘s “cultural tango with Hong Kong” features something for everyone: cooking competitions (the Pan-Asian Culinary Invitational), music (When Lion Rock meets Jade Mountain), a grand tea reception, and a Friendship Picnic communal feast. Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West), Friday August 26 6 p.m.–11 p.m., Saturday August 27 noon–11 p.m., Sunday August 28 noon–6 p.m., FREE.
This year’s breakout Saturday Night Live star is unquestionably Ghostbuster, Twitter hero, and Game of Thrones and Olympic commentator Leslie Jones—but who’s the next? It could very well be Sasheer Zamata, hired at the same time as Jones, whose improv and theatre background has helped her create memorable character turns on SNL’s Weekend Update—and impress in appearances on Inside Amy Schumer and This American Life. Zamata headlines four stand-up shows, which include local openers DeAnne Smith and Nile Séguin. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), Friday August 26 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., Saturday August 27 at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., $25.
Weekend August 27-28
On Saturday night, while Sasheer Zamata is holding court in Comedy Bar’s main space, Toronto-based comic Rebecca Kohler will be doing a pair of album-recording shows in the cabaret. Kohler’s a veteran stand-up who’s appeared at many major comedy festivals and will be familiar to fans of CBC shows Because News and The Debaters. Comedy Bar, Saturday August 27, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., $10.
For years now, Weaves has been referred to as a “band to watch” (including by us, last year). But you don’t go from the next big thing to the big thing until you release a full LP. The band, who’ve been touring constantly this spring and summer, is finally returning home with said debut (and self-titled) album for a record release party, joined by openers Poster Boy and Montreal’s She-Devils. The Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen Street West), Saturday August 27, doors at 8:30, $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
Keys N Krates had such a good time last year throwing a massive birthday party-cum-festival that they’ve decided to do it again. (Here’s a video depicting 2015’s celebrations.) Keys N Krates Birthday Party 2016, which is returning to the Sunnyside Pavilion grounds, will have a half dozen DJs joining the hosts, including Mannie Fresh, River Tiber, and Bevstmode. Sunnyside Pavilion (1755 Lake Shore Boulevard West), Sunday August 28, doors at 3 p.m., $25.
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