Day of Halloween events; showcases of musical theatre stars, local stand-ups, and queer female playwrights; concerts by Language Arts, Friendly Rich, and more.
Urban Planner is your weekly curated guide to what’s on in Toronto—things that are local, affordable, and exceptional.
Monday, October 31
The Howland Company’s monthly Howland Company Reading Group happens to fall on Halloween, so they’ve picked a dark and disturbing play—Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen, about England’s last hooded executioner. They’re hosting the event in a new (for them), intimate, and slightly spooky venue, and there will be candy for readers, attendees, and trick or treaters who may pass by. hub14 (14 Markham Street), 7 p.m., FREE.
The improvisers who produce and perform D&D Live get dressed up in costumes and role-play as outlandish heroes and villains on a monthly basis—well before Stranger Things brought the tabletop franchise back into the public eye. Tonight’s show will really be more of the same, just amped up with more ghouls and dungeon horrors. Attendees in costume will get the usual discount, and the best costumes may get their wearers an opportunity to roll the giant gameplay die. Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., $10 ($8 in costume).
Versatile Toronto cover band collective extraordinaire Dwayne Gretzky has taken lots of opportunities to dress up at past gigs—their tribute to Wayne’s World, for instance—so a Halloween show seems natural to them. Advance tickets have been sold out for weeks, but there may be some at the door (and fans are busily buying and selling tickets on the FB event page itself, mostly at face value). The Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen Street West), doors at 9 p.m., $25.
Tuesday, November 1
When the Willard Asylum in upstate New York was shut down in 1995, hundreds of bags belonging to past inmates were discovered and catalogued. The contents of said abandoned luggage was the inspiration for Rosanna Saracino’s Suitcases, a devised theatre and dance piece choreographed by Linda Garneau, directed by Saracino, and featuring more than 20 Toronto performance artists, including Michael Dufays (The Castle, Arigato, Tokyo), Heath Salazar (La Chasse Galerie, Dance Animal), and Chiamaka Umeh (Echoes, All Our Yesterdays). To November 6, Artscape Sandbox (301 Adelaide Street West), Tuesday–Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Sunday at noon, $25–$35.
Tonight, past guests on the Showcase Supreme series tape sets for festival submissions, including Jordan Foisy, Dawn Whitwell, and Faisal Butt; and you can check these comics out doing their best material for the bargain basement price of just five bucks. (The regular edition of Showcase Supreme, with an all female line-up this month, happens on Friday at Second City, for a still reasonable $10.) Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), doors open at 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m., $5.
Acting Upstage Company’s latest fundraiser is entitled UnCovered: Queen & Bowie, and features Canadian musical theatre talent such as Brent Carver, Divine Brown, and Melissa O’Neil. They reimagine and reinterpret standards by two of pop music’s most charismatic and influential acts, accompanied by a five-piece orchestra led by Reza Jacobs. The show has a three night stand at the Royal Conservatory of Music flagship hall. To November 3, Koerner Hall (273 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., $35–$100.
Wednesday, November 2
Award-winning advocacy group Environmental Defence hosts a panel discussion entitled “Who’s Winning The Climate Fight?“ tonight, featuring panelists from California, Quebec, and British Columbia who’ll report on their region’s wins and losses regarding climate change and corporate and government entities. The panel itself is free to register for; a VIP post-panel meet and greet reception with the panel and organizers will follow. AGO Jackman Hall (317 Dundas Street West), 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m. panel, FREE, 7:30 p.m. post-panel reception, $20.
Thomas McKechnie’s “punk rock performance lecture with 4 ½ totally useful tips for battling depression” won him an Honourable Mention for the Spotlight performance award this past summer at the SummerWorks Festival. He and the creative team of 4 1/2 (ig)noble truths are remounting the show in the Theatre Centre’s incubator space, this week only, with a PWYC rate at the door for students and the underemployed. To November 6, The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West), 7 p.m. (9:30 p.m. shows Friday & Saturday), PWYC–$20.
For this month’s edition of Confabulation, their storytellers and lecturers are “playing the villain”—speaking from the viewpoint of the “Devils, scoundrels, and the malefactors.” Confirmed guests on the bill include Torontoist alum and author of Doom: Love Poems for Supervillains, Natalie Zina Walschots, Rabbit in a Hat’s artistic director Paul Van Dyck, and Dare Storytelling’s Lauren Prussky. The Burdock (1184 Bloor Street West), 7 p.m., $10.
Thursday, November 3
The Standing O: Queer Women Leading Canadian Theatre panel this afternoon boasts theatre creators who are doing just that, including Katie Sly, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Mel Hague, and Gein Wong. Current Buddies in Bad Times artistic director Evalyn Parry will host and moderate—and the event will be done with plenty of time to make it to one of the umpteen theatre shows running (or opening) in Toronto this week. University College room 140 (15 King’s College Circle), 4 p.m.–6 p.m., FREE.
The Art of Time Ensemble is kicking off their new season with humourous selections—or, at least, classical music associated with comedy. There are works by Spike Jones and Tom Lehrer, a performance of Bill Coleman’s The Dance Belt: A Brief History of the Performing Arts, and an excerpt from Richard Greenblatt’s and Ted Dykstra’s 2 Pianos, 4 Hands. The program’s entitled That’s Not Funny, with Art of Time expecting you’ll drastically disagree. To November 5, Harbourfront Centre (235 Queen’s Quay West), 8 p.m., $15–$64.
Friday, November 4
It was only supposed to be a week long return, but Ravi Jain’s collaboration with his mother Asha, A Brimful of Asha, has nearly sold out this week, so Soulpepper has added another. The show, which involves the familiar pair serving food to audiences members and talking about Asha’s determination to see Ravi married, has come back to Toronto at least a half dozen times now, and shows no signs of stopping. To November 12, Young Centre (50 Tank House Lane), 8 p.m., $5–$60.
Toronto-based rock band Language Arts has been on a bit of a hiatus of late, but they’re back with new material and three openers—Programm, Century Thief, and Lou Canon—for a showcase at the ‘shoe. The Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen Street West), doors at 9 p.m., $10.
Weekend November 5–6
Toronto’s Community Preservation Panels hosts a one-day workshop on developing guidelines for heritage preservation in our city, entitled Toronto’s Cultural Heritage Landscapes: From Plan to Action. A half dozen speakers and moderator Alex Bozikovic of the Globe and Mail will look for feedback and increase awareness of the City’s work on updating and creating effective heritage preservation guidelines. Saturday, November 5, Metro Hall, Room 308 (55 John Street), 9 a.m–4:30 p.m., FREE (registration required).
It’s the weekend after Halloween, true, but Harbourfront Centre’s Day of the Dead festival will still strongly resonate with those familiar with the popular Mexican holiday and celebration, and there’s all sorts of family-friendly programming happening down by the water, including musical acts, puppet theatre, and hands-on workshops for all ages. Harbourfront Centre (235 Queen’s Quay West), November 5–6, noon–7 p.m., FREE.
Canadian Taiko group Nagata Shachu kicks off their 2016–2017 season with Toronto Taiko Tales: Global Beats from Around the City. The drumming and percussion show may be local in flavour, but it’s getting an international boost from Shogo Yoshii, an alumni of the famed Kodo drummers from Japan. Saturday, November 5, Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (6 Garamond Court), 8 p.m., $20–$45.
Toronto’s most eccentric musical performer has gathered a truly odd and wonderful group together, in association with brewing company Trou de Diable, for The Friendly Rich Show. It’s a one night cabaret featuring Rich and his friends, including an expanded Lollipop People orchestra, Marty Topps, Bob Wiseman, burlesque performer Svetlana Konswallow, and many more. Saturday, November 5, The Royal Cinema (608 College Street), 8 p.m., $15 in advance, $20 at the door.
On the cusp of the American election, political theatre agitprop night Wrecking Ball is focusing on those issues overlooked by the scandal-hungry media. Participants are still a closely guarded secret, but there’s at least one new wrinkle: a “Time Bomb” segment of the show where audience members will get 30 seconds to get whatever they want to say about politics off their chest. (With simultaneous events happening in Vancouver and Ottawa, one wonders how much overlap there will be in subject matter.) Sunday, November 6, Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson Avenue), 8 p.m., PWYC.
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