Dancing on the Pier is back for its third year! If you didn’t participate in this great dance series last year, be sure not to miss out this time around. For the uninitiated, this weekly series offers different live bands and instructors to help you find your groove along the waterfront all summer long. Featuring music by the Toronto All-Star Big Band and Ricardo Barboza.
If Academic Discipline was as sexy as the History Boys make it, a lot more kids would be aiming for failure. Following their hugely successful first event, Jeremy Willard and Michael Lyons return for a PRIDE edition reading of their column, which now appears in Xtra! Get steamy, all while being schooled on queer and trans people, events, and movements throughout history. Who says learning has to be boring?
The Creators’ Lounge is a monthly event series where local or international Japanese creators and artists are invited to come out and share their creations. The event serves to highlight contemporary Japanese culture through live performances and art exhibitions. This month’s event features visual artists Keita Morimoto, Michael Pitropov, and Chihiro Segi, as well as performances by MC Chill Cat and Winston Matsushita, and many more.
If you’re looking to support Pride and have a few laughs in the process, Laugh Out Proud has you covered. This multi-day series of stand-up comedy shows features an impressive roster of guests that changes every night (so you can go to each set if you want to). Starring headliner Jessica Kirson (The Tonight Show), Andrew Johnston, Martha Chaves, and Ted Morris, surprise guests, and more.
The 2013 Toronto Jazz Festival descends on the city on June 21 with a huge “free for all” event. That means all of Friday, June 21’s programming at every Jazz Festival venue is, yes, completely free of charge. There will be concerts from local favourites Molly Johnson and Mary Margaret O’Hara, plus a show by Smokey Robinson and Martha Reeves, who will be launching the fest from its epicentre, Nathan Phillips Square.
Here’s a rundown of some of the shows worth checking out on Friday—and during the rest of the festival, when you’ll actually have to pay.
The name “Mesopotamia” derives from a Greek term meaning “land between the rivers.” The Royal Ontario Museum’s latest major exhibit, which opens on June 22, takes this literally, as visitors flow between painted representations of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on the floor.
Presented by the British Museum and rounded out with pieces from institutions in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, “Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World” covers 3,000 years of human development in the cradle of urban civilization. Most of the 170 artifacts on display have never been shown in Canada.
While most festivals are geared towards some specific audience—like the Inside Out Festival or the Jewish Film Festival, for instance—where ReelHeart International Film Festival separates itself from the pack is by welcoming all submissions, as long as they have what the organizers deem to be “real heart.”
If you enjoy biking in the city (and of course you do) then get your wheels tuned up and join in Ward 29 Bikes’ weekly summer series, Thursday Night Rides. Here, you’ll have an opportunity to spin around neighbourhoods you might not normally explore on your own while getting to meet other like-minded cycling citizens. Be sure to check out their website for the starting point and schedule (also to get confirmation that the ride’s still a go due to weather, etc.).
Mammalian Diving Reflex wants you to get on your feet this summer with a weekly event series called Socialist Games. Here, you’ll get to meet with other strangers and play various summer-campish activities. If you’re looking for something unique to get involved with, let this be it!
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.
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.
Even with the success of acts like Lonely Island and Flight of the Conchords, people still tend to view musical comedy with some suspicion, and not without reason. Those high-profile success stories aside, at the club level, musical comedy is too often the province of people who aren’t quite good enough to make it as musicians, but not quite funny enough to make it as comedians.
Two local comics, Robert Keller and Rush Zilla, are out to change that perception with their show, Off Key Comedy, which features a wide variety of acts whose only commonality is that they combine music and comedy in one form or another. The third edition of the monthly show will take place on May 23, at Comedy Bar.