Coldest Day of the Year Bike Ride

  • Queen's Park Circle (Bloor Street West and Avenue Road)
  • 12:15 p.m.

The weather outside might be frightful, but that means nothing to hardcore cyclists. Want to prove that you’re also one of those tough Canadians? Then go out winter-biking on the Coldest Day of the Year Ride. Starting at Queen’s Park, the trail ends at Dufferin Grove Park where there will be a skating rink, roaring campfire, and hot chocolate.

Details: Coldest Day of the Year Bike Ride

The Balconies Album Release Show

Catch The Balconies at their album release show. Photo by Courtney Lee Photography.

Catch The Balconies at their album release show. Photo by Courtney Lee Photography.

  • Lee's Palace (529 Bloor Street West)
  • 9 p.m.

The Balconies are diving headfirst into 2014, putting out their sophomore effort, Fast Motions in the final days of January. A Torontonian indie-pop band with ’80s glam metal sensibilities, they’ve only gotten bigger, better, and more badass since the drop of their first EP. Join them for a special album release show with Say Yes, as they kick off what will likely be a whirlwind year.

Details: The Balconies Album Release Show

Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 1

  • Carlton Cinemas (20 Carlton Street)
  • 9 p.m.

Calling all fans of campy, over-the-top, schlock horror! Rue Morgue and Carlton Cinemas have teamed up for a special presentation of Troma Entertainment’s Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 1. Playing on present-day societal fears, this fun sci-fi film takes place at Tromaville High School, where two young lovers—Chrissy and Lauren—are forced to fight gangs of their violent, mutated classmates in hopes of saving the world. An exclusive Q&A with actors Catie Corcoran, Asta Paredes, and Clay von Carlowitz will follow the screening.

Details: Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 1

Ongoing…

The Guggenheim Comes to the AGO

KRocca_THE IMITATION GAME-8346

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).


Want more TIFF coverage? Torontoist‘s film festival hub is right over here.
Details: TIFF 2014 Scenes: Tuesday–Thursday Nights, Featuring Good Kill, Maps to the Stars, The Imitation Game, Jauja, Laggies, and More

TIFF Promises to Love Godard Forever

Still from Pierrot le fou.

Still from Pierrot le fou.

  • TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)
  • All day

“Photography is truth,” Michel Subor’s young draft-dodger announces in Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Petit Soldat, “And cinema is truth 24 frames per second.” Though that statement is often misattributed to the French filmmaker himself rather than to his character, the sentiment seems to hold true enough for Godard. On the strength of his wide-ranging, by turns playful and socially committed, and equal parts aesthetically and politically revolutionary filmography, one might even say that Godard’s life’s work has been dedicated to elevating the cinema to the esteemed status in which philosophers hold first principles like truth.

That effort to haul the cinema out of its infancy and into a kind of artistic maturity is the subject of TIFF Cinematheque’s newest and fullest retrospective in some time, a two-season programme entitled Godard Forever, which is intended to span the length of the filmmaker’s remarkable, varied career—from the jazz-infused improvisation of Breathless to the Marxist montage of recent work like Film Socialisme. The first half of that retrospective, a fifteen-film programme dedicated to what most consider Godard’s golden age—the period from 1960′s Breathless to 1967’s apocalyptic, decade-capping Weekend—runs this season, highlighting the period in which Godard famously moulded existing genres like Hollywood gangster pictures and musicals into his own unique creations.

Details: TIFF Promises to Love Godard Forever

Life Is Good, When it’s This Cabaret

Photo by Seanna Kennedy.

Photo by Seanna Kennedy.

  • Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue)
  • All day

It’s 1931 in Berlin, and the Nazis are on the brink of supremacy. But there remains another side to the city—one that’s decadent, permissive, and artistic. And that’s the world we meet when we’re beckoned into the extravagant and sleazy Kit Kat Klub by eccentric Emcee and his troupe of saucy dancers, performing “Willkommen.”

Cabaret’s primary plotline begins with the arrival of American writer Cliff Bradshaw (David Light). Without a real agenda, he’s come to Berlin to work on his novel and teach English. A patron of the Kit Kat Klub, he catches the eye of the star performer Sally Bowles (Kylie McMahon). A natural stunner, Sally is a bubbly young Brit with a powerhouse voice, a dancer’s grace, and a reputation for flitting from man to man like a bumblebee in a flowerbed. It’s not long before she and Cliff fall in love—though the question of whether he’ll be able to satisfy her wild side constantly hangs over their heads. The sweetness lacking in their relationship can be found in the romantic pairing of the boarding house landlord Fraulein Schneider (Adeen Ashton Fogle) and Jewish shop owner Herr Schultz (Don Berns). As appealing as they are, though, these middle-aged lovebirds are just as susceptible to trouble and heartbreak as their younger counterparts.

Details: Life Is Good, When it’s This Cabaret

Winterlicious 2014

  • All day

Time once again for the City of Toronto’s annual cold-weather enticement to get people out to fine dining establishments, the Winterlicious Festival. Over 200 restaurants have signed up to offer lunch and dinner prix-fixe menus over the official two-week period (many of them continue the pricing for longer), and the City’s also arranged for a number of different culinary events as well. For a full listing of the restaurants participating, visit the City’s website.

Details: Winterlicious 2014

From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru

Ichimaru playing the shamisen. Image courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Ichimaru playing the shamisen. Image courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

  • Textile Museum of Canada (55 Centre Avenue)
  • 11 a.m.

Ichimaru—once one of Japan’s most famous geishas—left the profession in the 1930s to pursue a career in entertainment. Never really leaving her past life, she became known for adorning herself in the traditional geisha garb when performing in concert or on television. “From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru” exhibits several decades’ worth of outfits and personal effects, shedding light on the woman behind the makeup.

Details: From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru

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

Getting to the Pith! of Play (and a Play)

Left to right, Amy Matysio, Ron Pederson, and Daniela Vlaskalic. Photo by Farrah Avivia.

Left to right, Amy Matysio, Ron Pederson, and Daniela Vlaskalic. Photo by Farrah Avivia.

  • Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Avenue)
  • 2 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

You can surmise a couple of things from the title of Stewart Lemoine’s play, receiving its Toronto debut 18 years after its Edmonton premiere. Like The Exquisite Hour, which producing company the Theatre Department launched with in 2012, Pith! is not much more than a hour—brevity being the soul of wit, after all. Pithy does in part mean concise, but “pith”? Well, it can mean “the essence,” and this play is concerned with getting to the essence of play, and by extension, a play.

Jack Vail (Ron Pederson) is a sailor and adventurer who, on a whim, decides to see what sort of adventures can be had in Providence, Rhode Island, in the summer of 1931. He’s just disembarked from a long sea voyage, and craves more genteel company, which he decides he’ll find at a Sunday church service and social. His attention is quickly drawn to a woman in mourning cloth and to her slightly less subdued companion, whom he finds sobbing over a plate of pie outside after the service. She introduces herself as Ms. Nancy Kimble (Amy Matysio), and shares the sad tale of her employer Mrs. Virginia Tillford (Daniela Vlaskalic), who has held out hope for a decade that her husband will return from a trip to South America, where he vanished.

Details: Getting to the Pith! of Play (and a Play)

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)
  • 2:30 p.m., 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

Così fan tutte

  • Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West)
  • 4:30 p.m.

What do you get when you combine Mozart and Atom Egoyan? Così fan tutte, a wryly comedic opera. Also known as The School For Lovers, it sees two couples struggle with issues of faith, desire, and temptation. The Canadian Opera Company welcomes the return of Egoyan, who will be directing this winter season opener.

Details: Così fan tutte

The Way Back to Thursday

Rob Kempson and Astrid Van Wieren star in The Way Back to Thursday. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Rob Kempson and Astrid Van Wieren star in The Way Back to Thursday. Photo by Michael Cooper.

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

Cameron and his grandmother share a special tradition: every Thursday night, they escape into the golden age of film together. A musical about unconditional love, The Way Back to Thursday takes us through the changes in this relationship as Cameron grows older and more distant.

Details: The Way Back to Thursday

DJ Skate Night

  • Natrel Rink, Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West)
  • 8 p.m.

It’s time to lace up! Harbourfront Centre has brought back its weekly DJ Skate Nights at Natrel Rink, overlooking the lake. Make the best of winter, and get your skate on to the sounds of some of Toronto’s premiere DJs and party-makers, like Skratch Bastid (Dec 14), Cherry Bomb (Feb 1), and DJ Starting from Scratch (Feb 22).

Details: DJ Skate Night

Heartbeat of Home

  • Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria Avenue)
  • 8 p.m., 2 p.m.

The producers of Riverdance have spawned yet another on-stage extravaganza. With a talented cast of 38, Heartbeat of Home is a high-energy show, combining Irish, Latin, and Afro-Cuban music and dance. Torontonians get the honour of seeing the production’s North American debut—take it in before it’s gone!

Details: Heartbeat of Home

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)
  • 2 p.m., 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

London Road

  • Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front Street East)
  • 2 p.m., 8 p.m.

In 2006, the quiet town of Ipswich, England, was turned upside down by the discovery of five dead women. During this time, playwright Alecky Blythe recorded extensive interviews with the nearby residents. Set to music, these audio clips form the script to London Road, a raw piece of theatre illustrating tragedy’s ability to fortify a community.

Details: London Road

Of Mice and Morro and Jasp

Morro and Jasp take on Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Photo courtesy of U.N.I.T. Productions.

Morro and Jasp take on Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Photo courtesy of U.N.I.T. Productions.

  • Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street)
  • 2 p.m., 8 p.m.

Morro and Jasp are clown sisters created and played by Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee, comedians and Factory Theatre writers-in-residence. In their newest adventure, they fall on hard times and take up acting in hopes of making ends meet. Of Mice and Morro and Jasp sees them attempt to bring the classic John Steinbeck tale to the stage. Will they succeed?

Details: Of Mice and Morro and Jasp

Once On This Island

Chris Sams and Jewelle Blackman star in Once On This Island. Image courtesy of Acting Up Stage Company.

Chris Sams and Jewelle Blackman star in Once On This Island. Image courtesy of Acting Up Stage Company.

  • Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas Street East)
  • 2 p.m., 8 p.m.

The Acting Up Stage Company brings the French Antilles to Toronto audiences with its new musical, Once On This Island. Set to an exuberant Caribbean score, we see the gods test the dark-skinned Ti Moune by sending her on a quest after she falls in love with a higher-class, light-skinned man.

Details: Once On This Island

Flesh and Other Fragments of Love: A Rocky Production

Nicole Underhay and Maria del Mar in Flesh and Other Fragments of Love. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Nicole Underhay and Maria del Mar in Flesh and Other Fragments of Love. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

  • Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue)
  • 2:30 p.m., 8 p.m.

In Tarragon Theatre’s current mainstage production, Flesh and Other Fragments of Love, there are both a marriage and a body on the rocks, and the prognosis isn’t good for either of them. While the human figure appears pale, cold, and lifeless, the marriage is slightly more alive, and the play chronicles its last dying breaths. Surprisingly, though, the young female cadaver is by far the more interesting of the two.

Details: Flesh and Other Fragments of Love: A Rocky Production