If you need additional reasons to get your beer on, Toronto’s Festival of Beer is bringing you over 200 brands to enrich your appreciation of Canada’s brewing indsutry. Apart from the beer and vendors, there will be live music all weekend long (including sets from Spin Doctors and Easy Star All-Stars), and grilling tips from Ted Reader.
The Mad Decent Block Party rolls back into town, and this year, it’s setting up shop in a rather quaint neighbourhood: the commons in and around Fort York. On the bill for the afternoon and evening outdoor electronic extravaganza: Polaris Prize shortlisters A Tribe Called Red, cannon-armed daggering advocate Major Lazer, local duo Zeds Dead, and many more.
It would be fair to say that A Tribe Called Red is having a breakout moment.
The Ottawa-based electronic music trio was shortlisted for this year’s Polaris Music Prize for its sophomore album, Nation II Nation. The group is playing sold-out shows on both sides of the border and has been covered by almost every major media outlet in the country. Its “powwow-step” sound, which combines traditional Aboriginal music with dubstep, hip-hop, and dancehall reggae, has become a massive success.
ATCR’s Bear Witness admits that the whole thing is kind of a surprise to him and his colleagues, Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau and Dan “DJ Shub” General. Initially, he says, they were just trying to run a club night for urban First Nations youth and make music that would appeal to their community.
Not into shelling out $60 to $110 to see Justin Bieber at the Air Canada Centre? Well, how about a great band for the price of a can or two from your pantry cupboard? Akron/Family, fresh from a number of UK tour dates, are stopping in Toronto en route to this weekend’s Hillside Festival in Guelph, and are playing a free in-store show at Sonic Boom. (The 8 p.m. showtime is a bit unusual for an in-store, but the band will still probably be on London time.) It’s all ages, and Sonic Boom and the band just ask that you consider bringing a food donation for the Fort York food bank.
While the Toronto International Film Festival may have shifted into a more relaxed mode, it’s still offering plenty of opportunities to gawk at movie stars—they’re just a little more spread out. Midweek, fans could catch the premieres of Good Kill (Ethan Hawke as a drone pilot), Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg’s new bit of oddness), The Imitation Game (Benedict Cumberbatch as World War II cryptographer Alan Turing), Jauja (Viggo Mortensen, and we don’t know much else really), Laggies (Sam Rockwell and Keira Knightley in a comedy about people taking their sweet time to grow up), October Gale (Patricia Clarkson and Scott Speedman in a thriller/drama set in a remote cabin), Pawn Sacrifice (about the chess duels between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer), The Cobbler (Adam Sandler’s latest) and Escobar (Benicio Del Toro is the famous drug kingpin).
If Fringe and SummerWorks aren’t enough to satisfy your summer theatre cravings, the world-renowned Stratford Festival is now only a bus ride away from downtown Toronto, thanks to the new Stratford Direct bus route (“the best thing [the Festival] has done in years” according to one usher at the Avon Theatre). Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino has put together a season to please tastes from the traditional to the extravagant. Here’s what we think about five of Stratford’s current productions.
Flight: A Thrilling History of an Idea is a new exhibition from the Toronto Reference Library that gathers a number of rare items that explore the theme of the possible and the impossible. Some of the highlights on display are La vingtième siècle: la vie électrique (a rare French book that shows how scientific discoveries would have affected people in 1955), Tame (a sci-fi pulp magazine), and Worldly Wisdom (watercolour that depicts a Leonardo da Vinci-like figure creating a winged flying machine). You’ll find the exhibition in the library’s TD Gallery.
When Animal House first turned the toga into suitable party attire in 1978, the landscape of the film comedy was forever altered. TOGA! The Reinvention of American Comedy, a new film series that kicked off Wednesday at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, seeks to chart the changing comedic sensibilities that have occurred in the years since the film’s release. From big budget blockbusters, to libido-fuelled sex romps, to carefully calibrated exercises in nuance and timing, the selections in the program are some of the funniest films ever made.
The Beaches International Jazz Festival marks its 25th anniversary as it wraps up its 2013 edition this weekend. On tap are lots of cover bands, pan flute-led ensembles, and a sea of boomers in Hawaiian shirts walking their dogs.
Is that “Cheeseburger in Paradise” you just heard? Probably. Is that 70-year-old white gentleman in the “Canadian Tuxedo” doing a Bob Marley cover? You bet he is. One love, Toronto. Calling this event a jazz festival at this point is just illogical. The flavour is really more akin to the Taste of the Danforth, or Taste of the Kingsway,than a music festival.
So what’s the best way to enjoy this fest? Grab a seat on one of Queen Street East’s many great patios, get a bite and drink and soak up the great weather and the people watching. If you’re interested in going specifically for the music, don’t linger or wander. Head directly to see one of our top three picks, which are below.
Soulpepper Theatre collaborates on a Joe Orton play, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s artistic producer Brendan Healey. Guest director Healey has coached some Soulpepper theatre stalwarts—Stuart Hughes, Fiona Reid, Michael Simpson, and David Beazley—for this dark comedy about a charming lodger who incites illicit passions among his other housemates.
There are only so many can’t-miss Toronto events each year, and the Beaches International Jazz Festival is certainly one of them. This year’s fest features a whirlwind of acts and musical genres mixed together along Queen Street East (and then you can head down to the boardwalk for more summer fun). Click here for the full lineup.
If you’re looking to make your summer much hotter than it already is, check out the 6th Annual Toronto Burlesque Festival for some sexy dancing and amazing costumes on stage. Featuring dozens and dozens of performers from across Toronto, New York, and a variety of other places across North America, this year’s sizzling four-day event features a jam-packed opening show, a late night shakedown, and a burlesque brunch.
CUE, a non-profit arts organization that encourages artistic expression from the city’s fringes, hosts “Margin of Eras.” The exhibit gathers over 20 different artists’ work for display in a pop-up gallery on Wednesdays to Sundays for two weeks in July. For the launch party on Friday, July 12 at 7 p.m., there’ll be a live New Orleans jazz band, and more.
Travel back to turn-of-the-century Paris—La Belle Époque—with the Toronto Summer Music Festival. Established and up-and-coming classical musicians gather for this three-week festival to celebrate works by French composers such as Ravel, Debussy, and Fauré. Lectures, workshops, interviews, and concerts will take place in various venues across the city.
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.
Cover band extraordinaire Dwayne Gretzky kicks off Indie Fridays, Yonge-Dundas Square’s weekly summer music night series, on June 28. The eight-piece rock ‘n’ roll cover band most recently played Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album from beginning to end. Later in the summer, Indie Fridays’ feature acts include soul singer Saidah Baba Talibah (August 2), Polaris Prize shortlisters Plants and Animals (August 23), and hip hop innovator Cadence Weapon (August 30).
It seems rare these days for a theatre group to put on a classic, untampered presentation of a Shakespeare play. First Act Productions is no exception to this trend, with their short run offering, All Shook Up: An Elvis Musical. Set to a soundtrack of Presley’s best known rock and roll hits, this upbeat musical takes its storyline from Twelfth Night.
Playwright and director Bobby Del Rio touches on the struggle artists face in The Trial of Ken Gass. Based on the real-life dismissal of a Canadian theatre legend, the play sees Ken Gass continually put on trial for crimes of which he knows nothing. The part of Gass will be played by a different actor every night, including Peter Keleghan, Art Hindle, Diane Flacks, Greg Dunham, and Dinesh Sachdev.
Musical theatre has a reputation for sometimes being out of touch and old-fashioned, so the prospect of Mirvish Productions bringing a tour of Cole Porter’s 1934 musical Anything Goes to Toronto wasn’t especially heartening at first—even if this particular production, by New York City’s Roundabout Theatre Company, won three 2011 Tony Awards.
But say, pal, wouldn’t you know, we were downright tickled to have such a good time at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The jokes are still corny, the songs still melodramatic, and the script still has some pretty racist content, but the show manages to transcend its era.