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NXNE 2013: Genre By Genre, Our Best Bets

Fans in Yonge-Dundas Square during NXNE 2011. You too could be this stoked.

Fans in Yonge-Dundas Square during NXNE 2011. You too could be this stoked.

  • Multiple venues
  • All day

It’s hard to believe, but if North by Northeast was a person, it would be old enough to drink this year. The festival, which started out 19 years ago as a pale imitation of Austin’s South by Southwest, is now a force to be reckoned with in its own right. It’s a place where up-and-coming acts from around the world come to get noticed. It also provides a few of Toronto’s best free concerts in any given year, lined up back-to-back.

Every year, we come out of NXNE with a new favourite band that we refuse to shut up about for the rest of the summer. The only problem is, finding that new favourite band involves sorting through literally hundreds of contenders. We’ve managed to come up with a totally subjective list of acts worth seeing, broken down by genre, to help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

Here are a few key tips that apply to fans of all genres.

Details: NXNE 2013: Genre By Genre, Our Best Bets

New Toronto Production of Cats Meets Expectations

Cats Ensemble. Photo by Racheal McCaig.

Cats Ensemble. Photo by Racheal McCaig.

  • Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge Street)
  • 1:30 p.m.

Cats is a challenging musical to stage for a number of reasons. The narrative is thin and strange; the lyrics are drawn primarily from T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, with more borrowed from some other Eliot poems, “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” (which original director Trevor Nunn adapted into the song “Memory”) and “Moments of Happiness.” The result is not so much a story as ideas and character sketches. Old Deuteronomy, patriarch of the Jellicle Cats, calls the creatures together once a year to celebrate, and for one cat to be chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer (essentially, to die and be reincarnated). Most of the songs detail the adventures and virtues of a single cat in particular, essentially serving as that cat’s audition for the honour of ascension.

Details: New Toronto Production of Cats Meets Expectations

Passion Play‘s Journey Through Time

The Director (Jordan Pettle) speaks to "J" (Andrew Kushnir) while they rehearse the crucifixion scene.

The Director (Jordan Pettle) speaks to "J" (Andrew Kushnir) while they rehearse the crucifixion scene.

  • Eastminister Church (310 Danforth Avenue)
  • 1:30 p.m.

There are a lot of chefs in the kitchen for the Canadian premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play, a triptych set in three time periods that tells the stories of amateur actors (played by real actors) involved in staging performances of the story of Christ. Three different Toronto independent theatre companies, all with reputations for innovative staging and creation in their past work, each tackle one of the three acts. Ordinarily, such a complicated arrangement would be to a show’s detriment, but not in this case. While you need to be prepared for a marathon of theatre (the show runs four hours, incluing two intermissions), you’re certainly going to get your money’s worth.

Details: Passion Play‘s Journey Through Time

An Interview With Carmen Choreographer Davide Bombana

National Ballet of Canada Performers rehearse for Carmen.

National Ballet of Canada Performers rehearse for Carmen.

  • Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West)
  • 2 p.m.
Details: An Interview With Carmen Choreographer Davide Bombana