Comedy from Chantel Marostica and Kirsten Rasmussen; tributes to Stan Rogers, Fleetwood Mac, and Stevie Wonder; Santa Claus is coming to town.
Urban Planner is your weekly curated guide to what’s on in Toronto—things that are local, affordable, and exceptional.
Monday, November 14
Playwrights Canada Press’ Fall Book Launch features a half-dozen authors reading from their (previously staged) work, including Judith Thompson, Kawa Ada, Natasha Greenblatt, and more, hosted by Now magazine’s Jon Kaplan and Susan G. Cole. Of course, after the readings, there will be a chance to meet the assembled playwrights, and maybe get them to sign a book or two. Studio Bar (824 Dundas Street West), 7 p.m., FREE.
A multiple Dora and TTCA award-winner (and one of Torontoist‘s top shows of 2015), the delightful holiday musical Chasse-Galerie, a new and gender-swapped spin on a risqué Québécois folk tale, returns at a new home for their all-night escapades in the Distillery District, at Soulpepper’s Young Centre. Most of the collectively created show’s cast and creative team is back from its original run at the Storefront Theatre, though Soulpepper has made a few new additions from its academy, including Nicole Power (CBC’s Kim’s Convenience) and Hunter Cardinal (Rapid Fire Theatre).
To November 26 Extended to December 1, Young Centre (55 Mill Street), Monday–Saturday at 8 p.m., Wednesday & Saturday at 2 p.m., $20–$50 (rush $5-$25).
Tuesday, November 15
The Globe and Mail‘s media critic Simon Houpt hosts a “J-Talk” tonight entitled From the Margins to the Mainstream: What’s Next For Digital Disruptors. The panel consists of representatives from three of the (very) few media companies in Canada that have been hiring lately: Michael Gruzuk (Vice Canada), Jennifer Hollett (Twitter Canada), and Craig Silverman (Buzzfeed Canada). After the discussion on the “challenges and obstacles” the three companies face, there will be a cocktail reception with the speakers and registered attendees. TMX Broadcast Centre (130 King Street West), registration at 5:30 p.m., talk at 6 p.m., reception at 7:30 p.m., $15–$25.
One of the top cabaret performers in the world, Sharron Matthews, is launching her new solo show NAKED (well, solo with musical accompanists) with a three-night stand in her hometown. The show, which we saw a preview of last year during her residency at Buddies in Bad Times, features Matthews’ unique takes on pop hits from diverse sources as AC/DC, Beyoncé, Serena Ryder, and more. To November 17, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street), 8 p.m., $20–$25.
Another favourite performer among Toronto’s queer community, stand-up Chantel Marostica, is hosting a benefit show, Chantel Marostica
And Has Friends, for herself: she’s raising funds to undergo elective surgery that’s controversially not covered due to her gender. The bill is packed with many of Toronto’s top (pardon the pun) comics, including Aisha Brown, Tim Gilbert, Sara Hennessey, and many more. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 9:30 p.m., $10 in advance, $15 at the door.
Wednesday, November 16
The Tapestry Opera company, which impressed us with its production of M’dea Undone last year, launches its 2016–2017 season with the Toronto premiere of Naomi’s Road, Ann Hodges and Ramona Luengen’s musical adaptation of Canadian novelist Joy Kogawa’s children’s book, itself an adaptation of Kogawa’s award winning novel Obasan, about Canada’s internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War. On opening night, Kogawa will read from her book post-show. After each subsequent performance this week, a different Canadian novelist will read an excerpt from their own Canadian-focused book. To November 20, St. David’s Anglican Church (49 Donlands Avenue), Wednesday–Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., $25–$35.
Ahuri Theatre and the Theatre Centre’s presentation of This is the Point wraps up its run this week. The show, a collaboration between disabled theatre creators and theatre creators who have disabled children, has received praise from both the National Post and the Toronto Star, which referred to it as a balm for “anyone anxious or isolated or in need of connection” after Trump’s disturbing victory on a “platform of othering and misunderstanding.” To November 20, The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West), Tuesday–Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., $22–$30.
Thursday, November 17
Fierce California post-punk rockers Thee Oh Sees play their largest venue in Toronto to date, touring their new album An Odd Entrances. (We can recall being crammed close enough to the Bovine Sex Club’s stage to be inadvertently spit on by frontman John Dwyer during a secret 2 a.m. NXNE showcase.) Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth Avenue), doors at 7 p.m., $23.50
If you’re looking for the same intensity, but local and more roots-flavoured, the Sunparlour Players are returning to the Dakota Tavern for a one-off residency night, with Nichol Robertson and The Buggalo Boys joining them on the bill. The Dakota Tavern (249 Ossington Avenue), doors at 9 p.m., show 10 p.m., $10.
Since moving on from Second City after a series of stand-out turns in its mainstage revues, comic Kirsten Rasmussen has become involved in several other comedic endeavours. One of those, the web series Healing From Heartbreak that she’s co-created with Danny Belair, gets its first public screening tonight, with warm-up performances by Montreal sketch troupe HOT RAW FIRE, and stand-up Chantel Marostica (see Tuesday’s listings). Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor Street West), 9:30 p.m., $8.
Friday, November 18
The Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps Festival, their season of dance programming, kicks off this week with not one show, but two. In the Fleck Dance Theatre, ProArteDanza returns home from a three-city tour earlier this month of their new double bill Season 2016, featuring the world premiere of artistic director Roberto Campanella’s Fearful Symmetries and the local premiere of Robert Glumbek’s Diversion. In the main building, Balancing on the Edge features six new works combining dance, circus performance, live music, and a DJ. To November 19, Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay), Wednesday–Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., $15–$45.
The Classic Albums Live series tonight tackles Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, one of the most popular and influential rock albums of the 70s. It’s not the first time the album has been performed in tribute in Toronto (Dwayne Gretzky did that in 2013), but it IS the first time the whole album will be heard live in the gorgeous acoustics of Massey Hall. Massey Hall (178 Victoria Street), 8 p.m., $29.50–$59.50.
The Hot Docs Podcast Festival runs November 18–20 this weekend and focuses on the intersection of live performance and the new online medium, showcasing many different podcasts on stage. Our pick for the week goes to Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids, since the popular series started out as a live show that became a podcast. Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West), 9:30 p.m., $25–$29.
Weekend, November 19–20
At Hugh’s Room this Friday and Saturday evening, nearly a dozen local performers are taking part in a Stan Rogers tribute, paying homage to the legendary Maritime entertainer. Organized by Borealis Records, which oversees Rogers’ catalogue, the bill includes Stan’s son, Nathan Rogers, and Stan’s widow, Ariel Rogers, both veteran musicians in their own right. Friday and Saturday, Hugh’s Room (2261 Dundas Street West), show at 8:30 p.m., $25 in advance, $27.50 at the door.
Toronto has many “legendary” music venues, like Hugh’s Room, that have received ample attention and press—the Horseshoe Tavern, the Cameron House, or the Rex Hotel, for example. But blues and jazz joint Grossman’s Tavern on Spadina, established in 1943, has often been overlooked, especially in the past few decades. That may change with this weekend’s book launch of Grossman’s Tavern: A Portrait, a project author and photographer Michael Glassman has been working on for over four years. The launch will happen both Saturday and Sunday, in between residency sets by The Happy Pals band and The New Orleans All-Star Band. Saturday and Sunday, Grossman’s Tavern (379 Spadina Avenue), sets 4 p.m.–8 p.m., book launch 7 p.m., FREE.
Good Kids’s Motown Party this Saturday presents a Stevie Wonder edition, with some of the night’s proceeds being donated to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Wonder is one of the most requested acts at the soul music party, so tickets for this event will likely sell out. Saturday, Studio Bar (824 Dundas Street West), $10 in advance, $15 at the door ($400 VIP booth).
Snow is (hopefully) a long way off this year. But Santa has plenty of work to do before his big delivery night, so he’s putting in a visit to Toronto before his schedule gets slammed. The Santa Claus Parade takes place this Sunday, so bundle up the family, and come out to see the jolly old man and a LOT of his friends parade along our city streets. Sunday, Christie Pits Park (750 Bloor Street West), parade starts at 12:30 p.m. FREE.
Fifteen Toronto actors are taking part in The Howland Company’s staged reading of company member Paolo Santalucia’s new adaptation of Wedekind’s play Spring Awakening. Santalucia’s adaptation, which presumably hews closer to the original play than the Duncan Sheik musical adaptation, features veteran actor Julian Richings, Stratford alum Bahia Watson, Jakob Ehman (currently on stage in Tarragon’s The Circle), recent Dora winner Danny Ghantous, and several members of The Howland Company’s collective. Sunday, 190 Richmond Street East, 7:30 p.m., PWYC (limited capacity, advance booking suggested).
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