Ali Eisner: “Favourite Things”

Rose Cousins performing at Dakota Tavern. Photo by Ali Eisner.

Rose Cousins performing at Dakota Tavern. Photo by Ali Eisner.

  • Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West)
  • 12 p.m.

Ali Eisner is already known for being a puppeteer, composer, and performer. Now she adds another line to her resumé with her debut photography exhibit, “Favourite Things.” As one might expect, each photo in the show depicts a cherished moment, person, or item in her life—you’ll find shots of everything from travelling and architecture, to puppets and musicians such as Kathleen Edwards, Ron Sexsmith, and Serena Ryder.

Details: Ali Eisner: “Favourite Things”

Belleville-ville Enter 1975

The people you'll meet on the streets of Belleville-ville. Photo by Paul Fee Gunn.

The people you'll meet on the streets of Belleville-ville. Photo by Paul Fee Gunn.

  • Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton Street)
  • 8:30 p.m.

The fictional town of Belleville-ville, Ontario, is preparing to Enter 1975. Join the local drunk, priest, bus driver, and other town folk as they go about their daily lives and get ready for the new year in this improvised soap opera. Feeling creative? Bring some story ideas with you—the narrative proceeds according to audience suggestions.

Details: Belleville-ville Enter 1975

The Sketchersons 10-Year Anniversary Celebration

  • Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West)
  • 9:15 p.m., 8 p.m.

In 2004. Gary Rideout Jr., Pat Thornton, and Tal Zimmerman formed the Sketchersons, and set out to establish an outlet for local comedic talent—the result was Sunday Night Live. Now, with over 200 shows, awards, and tours of North America under their belts, they present The Sketchersons 10-Year Anniversary Celebration. Join them for four nights of comedy, which will include year-specific “best of” shows featuring alumni casts and new content mashups. The weekend wraps up with a Best of 2013 spectacular.

Details: The Sketchersons 10-Year Anniversary Celebration

Ongoing…

The Royal Ontario Museum Takes a Modern Approach to the Cradle of Civilization

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  • Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park)
  • All day

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.

Details: The Royal Ontario Museum Takes a Modern Approach to the Cradle of Civilization

TIFF’s First Major Original Exhibition Traces David Cronenberg’s Evolution

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  • TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)

It’s not every day that a media tour opens with the injunction not to photograph “the sex blob,” but so began TIFF’s preview of “David Cronenberg: Evolution,” the organization’s first large-scale touring exhibition (for now, it’s stationed at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s HSBC Gallery). It’s an exhaustive, stunning look at some of the wildest, most perverse creations of a pioneer of the body-horror genre—who also happens to be Canada’s most internationally renowned filmmaker.

Details: TIFF’s First Major Original Exhibition Traces David Cronenberg’s Evolution

The Guggenheim Comes to the AGO

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  • Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West)
  • All day

Virginia Woolf once remarked that “on or about December 1910, human character changed.” Whether it actually did is debatable, but the curators of “The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection 1910–1918” use that year to start their exhibition of works from a tumultuous decade of innovation in European fine art.

Details: The Guggenheim Comes to the AGO

TIFF Pays Another Trip to Studio Ghibli’s Enchanted Kingdoms

Still from My Neighbor Totoro.

Still from My Neighbor Totoro.

  • TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)

The rare retrospective to get a victory lap soon after its first run, TIFF’s recent spotlight on the eighteen acclaimed films from Japan’s much-admired animation studio gets a second lease on life with Spirited Away: The Films of Studio Ghibli. A major hit with families when it showed at TIFF Bell Lightbox last spring, the retrospective returns with some key modifications, including a couple of prized screenings of 1988’s Grave of the Fireflies, which was unavailable for the last round.

Details: TIFF Pays Another Trip to Studio Ghibli’s Enchanted Kingdoms

The Little Mermaid

The cast of The Little Mermaid. Image courtesy of Ross Petty Productions.

The cast of The Little Mermaid. Image courtesy of Ross Petty Productions.

  • Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge Street)
  • 2 p.m., 7 p.m.

You know what they say—things are better, down where it’s wetter. Keeping that in mind, why not escape the cold, and enter the underwater world of The Little Mermaid. Straying from the sugar-coated Disney version, Ross Petty’s production draws on Hans Christian Andersen’s story, tying in humour to make this family program both relevant and entertaining.

Details: The Little Mermaid

The Nutcracker

Elena Lobsanova in The Nutcracker. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Elena Lobsanova in The Nutcracker. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

  • Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West)
  • 7 p.m.

Ensure that visions of sugarplum fairies will be dancing in your head this holiday season by grabbing tickets to the National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker. Choreographed by James Kudelka, this dreamy story set in Imperial Russia has everything from snow queens to fight scenes, with rich costuming, a live orchestra, and compelling performances from some of the best in ballet.

Details: The Nutcracker

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

  • Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Avenue)
  • 7 p.m.

Proving that Bible stories can be pretty entertaining, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat returns to the stage in Toronto for a short three-week run. This Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, with lyrics by Tim Rice, is based on the story of Joseph of Canaan’s “coat of many colours.” Debuted in the mid-70s, this is the first Lloyd Webber-Rice opera to ever be performed in public.

Details: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Go Hear the People Sing in Les Misérables

Ramin Karimloo will make you weep, or at least want to give him a hug, as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Ramin Karimloo will make you weep, or at least want to give him a hug, as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

  • Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King Street West)
  • 1:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Every revolution needs a leader. And though the movement to bring the classic 1980s musical Les Misérables back to Toronto is markedly different than the quest for political accountability and social equality, it has its hero just the same. After the official opening performance at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the audience likely would have followed London-based, Richmond Hill-raised performer Ramin Karimloo (as the story’s golden-hearted protagonist, Jean Valjean) anywhere he would lead.

Details: Go Hear the People Sing in Les Misérables

See It at Least Once

The touring cast of Once jams together at an Irish open-mic night. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The touring cast of Once jams together at an Irish open-mic night. Photo by Joan Marcus.

  • Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King Street West)
  • 8 p.m., 2 p.m.

Once upon a time, there was a film called Once. It was made for dirt cheap in 2006 by writer and director John Carney, shot in 17 days, and starred two unprofessional actors. Fast-forward seven years, and those stars—Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová—are Oscar winners, the movie has grossed almost US$9.5 million, and a Broadway musical based on the story walked away from the 2012 Tonys with eight awards, including Best Musical.

Now Toronto gets to take part in Once‘s Cinderella story, as the touring production continues its run at the Royal Alexandra Theatre until early 2014, rounding out Mirvish’s holiday offerings: Aladdin for the kids, Les Misérables for an outing with your parents, and for a romantic night at the theatre with your folk-music-loving significant other, this simple story of two broken-hearted Dubliners who find a connection through music.

Details: See It at Least Once

French Baroque Cantatas and Sonatas

See? Baroque artists know how to have fun too. Image courtesy of The Musicians in Ordinary.

See? Baroque artists know how to have fun too. Image courtesy of The Musicians in Ordinary.

  • Heliconian Hall (35 Hazelton Avenue)
  • 8 p.m.

This new year, we dare you to broaden your horizons and do something you might not normally do—namely, attend the Musicians in Ordinary’s presentation of French Baroque Cantatas and Sonatas. Hallie Fishel and John Edwards make up the duo who pay tribute to early music primarily through voice and lute. One of their featured guests, Irish flutist Emma Zoe Elkinson, is proof that the instrument isn’t just for band geeks. She’s performed with U2, at the Vatican, and plays everything from pop music to traditional Irish pieces. Now that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Details: French Baroque Cantatas and Sonatas

The Musical of Musicals, The Musical!: Theatre That’s Niche and Nerdy

Dana Jean Phoenix, Mark Cassius, Paula Wolfson and Adrian Marchuk in Musical of Musicals, the Musical!. Photo by Josie Di Luzio.

Dana Jean Phoenix, Mark Cassius, Paula Wolfson and Adrian Marchuk in Musical of Musicals, the Musical!. Photo by Josie Di Luzio.

  • Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge Street)
  • 2 p.m., 8 p.m.

The musical spoof is a theatrical genre all its own, and it’s one that thrives in the indie universe of the Fringe Festival circuit. Of course, it was at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival that The Musical of Musicals, The Musical! became a runaway hit. Its hokey, jokey sense of humour, hummable tunes, and highly experienced cast stood out from the hundred-plus other low-budget productions—so much so that David Mirvish plucked it from obscurity and placed it in the Off-Mirvish lineup. But until last Thursday, we had yet to see if its success so far was a Fringe fluke or the real deal.

Details: The Musical of Musicals, The Musical!: Theatre That’s Niche and Nerdy