Long Winter: Year Two, Volume Three

Joel Gibb and his Hidden Cameras are late additions to the Long Winter lineup. Photo by Elsa Quarsell.

Joel Gibb and his Hidden Cameras are late additions to the Long Winter lineup. Photo by Elsa Quarsell.

  • The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West)
  • 7 p.m.

This winter may already seem long due to the chilly temperatures, but that’s the whole point of the Long Winter series: to get you out of the house and to a warm building packed to the rafters with cool art, music, and more. Long Winter: Year Two, Volume Three has added the Hidden Cameras to the already rammed music lineup, which includes Doug Tielli, Rae Spoon, and Buzz Records labelmates Weaves and Isla Craig. Also taking place is Vish Khanna’s Long Night interview series, Henri Fabergé’s continuing Fountain of Mouth performance art project, the Long Winter Arcade, and much more.

Details: Long Winter: Year Two, Volume Three

A Wake For Lost Time

The Elphants in The Room collective looks well rested here... Photo by Moez Surani.

The Elphants in The Room collective looks well rested here... Photo by Moez Surani.

  • Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue)
  • 7:30 p.m.

Theatre Passe Muraille’s Elephants in the Room collective members aren’t just staying up late for this month’s cabaret. They’re turning it into a one-time-only 24-hour performance experiment entitled A Wake For Lost Time that’ll be open for public viewing at the beginning (Friday evening from 7:30 p.m.-10:45 p.m.), midway through (Saturday midday from 11:30 a.m.–1:45 p.m.), and for the final three hours (Saturday afternoon from 3:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.). Combining “performance art, poetry, classical and post-dramatic theatre,” the entire “ritual” will be carried on a 24-hour web stream.

Details: A Wake For Lost Time

Toronto Poetry Slam

Kitchener-based poet Janice Lee headlines this month's Toronto Poetry Slam. Photo by Stefan Chirila.

Kitchener-based poet Janice Lee headlines this month's Toronto Poetry Slam. Photo by Stefan Chirila.

  • Drake Hotel Underground (1150 Queen Street West)
  • 8 p.m.

The Toronto Poetry Project kicks off 2014 with the first Toronto Poetry Slam of the year, a three-round open-mic free-verse showdown. Every TPS has a featured guest, and this month it’s Janice Lee: singer-songwriter, artistic director of Kitchener-Waterloo’s Poetry Slam, and winner of the 2013 Region of Waterloo’s Best Arts Mover and Shaker. The slam kicks off at 8 p.m.; contestants must be there to sign up at 7:30 p.m. sharp.

Details: Toronto Poetry Slam

The Wedding Singer Evokes ’80s (and Sandler) Nostalgia

Isaac Bell as Robbie and Ashley Gibson as Julia. Photo by Scott Gorman.

Isaac Bell as Robbie and Ashley Gibson as Julia. Photo by Scott Gorman.

  • Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle)
  • 8 p.m.

It seems like the 1980s are an odd, distant time here in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century. It also feels like it’s been almost as long since Adam Sandler was making good comedies, instead of recent dreck like the Grown-Ups films or Jack & Jill. Films like The Wedding Singer and Happy Gilmour were sweet (and only slightly profane) comedies where the screw-up always gets the girl.

Hart House Theatre’s production of The Wedding Singer is set a year shy of 30 years ago in Ridgefield, New Jersey, and trades on the nostalgia for a film that was already trading on nostalgia with neon lighting (plenty of purple wash), retro fashion, and familiar songs—the ones created for the film, anyway. (Classics like “You Spin Me Right Round” and “Love Stinks” would have made the licensing astronomical.) The 2006 musical adaptation came up with some similar (and period) sounding numbers that, in some cases, actually improve on the original. It also streamlined some of the characters: for instance, the most memorable supporting characters in the film, sleazeball Sammy (Matt Pilipiak) and keyboardist George (Scott Farley), are now both Robbie’s best friends and bandmates.

The musical also does a better job of balancing out Robbie (Isaac Bell) and Julia’s (Ashley Gibson) scenes, as she gets some songs to sing too, instead of being just a love interest. Julia’s scenes with her cousin Holly (Romina Cortina) and her mother won’t pass film’s Bechdel test, but then the boys only talk about women as well—save for a few throwaway lines about their band and an act-two number where Julia’s jerk fiancé Glen (Howard Davis) tries to sell Robbie on the world of finance.

The ensemble is spirited and, despite some persistent sound tech issues relating to the body mics, the show sounds all right too. Of course, a show likes this succeeds on the charisma of its leads and character roles: Bell, Gibson, and especially Farley are all likeable and on-point with their comedic timing. The book dutifully checks off all the memorable moments (and lines) that people are likely to recall from the film, which is, we suppose, sort of the point. You’re more likely to leave the theatre humming one of the songs from the pre-show or intermission music than from the score, but you probably will leave humming rather than grumbling.

Details: The Wedding Singer Evokes ’80s (and Sandler) Nostalgia

Ongoing…

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

20131029-David Cronenberg - Evolution - TIFF Lightbox-3565- Photo_by_Corbin_Smith
  • 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

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Canada’s Top Ten: Where Daniel Radcliffe, Edward Burtynsky, and a Giant Computer-Generated Spider Meet

Jake Gyllenhaal (and Jake Gyllenhaal) in Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy.

Jake Gyllenhaal (and Jake Gyllenhaal) in Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy.

  • TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)

Not content to keep it tucked away in the fall, last night the Toronto International Film Festival revealed its slate for Canada’s Top 10, the upcoming ten-day mini-festival devoted to the year’s best in Canadian filmmaking. Artistic Director Cameron Bailey joined Canadian programmer Steve Gravestock and comedian Steve Patterson to unveil the feature and short lineups, in addition to announcing a number of related talks.

Details: Canada’s Top Ten: Where Daniel Radcliffe, Edward Burtynsky, and a Giant Computer-Generated Spider Meet

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”

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)
  • 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

Little Shop of Horrors

  • Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue)
  • 8 p.m.

What happens when your common household plant develops a taste for blood? Well, naturally it turns into a feisty, R&B-singing beast vying for global domination. Or at least that’s what happens in the cult classic sci-fi spoof, Little Shop of Horrors. Check out this off-Broadway hit at the Lower Ossington Theatre during its three week run.

Details: Little Shop of Horrors

As You Like It

  • The Storefront Theatre (955 Bloor Street West)
  • 8 p.m.

Rarely Pure Theatre brings Shakespeare’s As You Like It to the Storefront Theatre, one of the city’s new alternative presentation spaces. The company gives the story, which sees love and friendship complicated by sexual tension and gender confusion, a distinctly Canadian twist by moving the action to a wintery wonderland.

Details: As You Like It

Avenue Q’s a Cure for the Blues

Princeton, Rod, and Lucy the Slut are some of the characters you'll meet on Avenue Q. Image courtesy of Avenue Q.

Princeton, Rod, and Lucy the Slut are some of the characters you'll meet on Avenue Q. Image courtesy of Avenue Q.

  • Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue)
  • 8 p.m.

Let’s face it: being a twenty-something can kinda suck. Pumped full of confidence and aspirations, we flee the family nest…and fall flat on our faces. Avenue Q uses songs (written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) and puppetry both to lament and poke fun at this difficult time. Much like Sesame Street, it has a cast made up of human actors who interact with a variety of furry creatures, who themselves have hands up their butts. Think that description is tasteless? This might not be the show for you—these puppets are crude and lewd, and have a taste for alcohol and porn. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Details: Avenue Q’s a Cure for the Blues

The Keith Richards One Woman Show

Deanna Jones stars in The Keith Richards One Woman Show. Photo by Lauren Garbutt Photography.

Deanna Jones stars in The Keith Richards One Woman Show. Photo by Lauren Garbutt Photography.

  • Fixt Point Studio (1550 Queen Street West)
  • 8 p.m.

With a minimalistic set, some vintage guitars, and a rock n’ roll soundtrack, Deanna Jones takes on the persona of one of music’s most notorious figures. Humourous and introspective, The Keith Richards One Woman Show leads audiences through the highs and lows of the Rolling Stones guitarist’s often ridiculous life.

Details: The Keith Richards One Woman Show

The Ugly One Plays Both Faces Well

Naomi Wright and Hardee T. Lineham discuss the drastic facial reconfiguration of David Jansen's Lette in Theatre Smash's production of The Ugly One. Photo by James Heaslip.

Naomi Wright and Hardee T. Lineham discuss the drastic facial reconfiguration of David Jansen's Lette in Theatre Smash's production of The Ugly One. Photo by James Heaslip.

  • Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue)
  • 8 p.m.

German theatre has gone over really well in Toronto in recent years. Playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig’s contribution to Volcano Theatre’s Africa project was widely praised, and twinwerks//zwillingswerk’s production of Felicia Zeller’s Kaspar and the Sea of Houses earned the company an outstanding production award at the 2011 SummerWorks (and a trip back to 2012′s festival). Now, Theatre Smash returns with Marius von Mayenburg’s The Ugly One, a clever slice of absurdism that works well on several levels. There’s light humour when the titular character discovers that everyone finds his face repugnant, and darker tones when his new, beautiful face becomes coveted obsessively by those around him.

Details: The Ugly One Plays Both Faces Well

Fast Food Follies

  • Unit 102 Theatre (376 Dufferin Street)
  • 9 p.m.

What do you do when your fast food chain loses popularity amongst the 30-year-old crowd? This is the dilemma Funny Burger faces in Fast Food Follies. Its solution: hire a Parkdale hipster and a fancy “sandwich artist” to revamp the restaurant’s image. Loaded guns, cyborg lawyers, explosive diarrhea, and general madness ensue in this long-form sketch comedy serial.

Details: Fast Food Follies