What's going on this week? More than meets the eye.
Urban Planner is your weekly curated guide to what’s on in Toronto—things that are local, affordable, and exceptional.
Monday August 29
Theatre company Soulpepper is wrapping up its summer season, and this is the last week to see two of its shows—both extended from their initial runs due to popularity. Father Comes Home From the Wars (which we first mentioned at the beginning of the month) plays tonight and wraps on Thursday, September 1; The 39 Steps, a madcap comedy loosely based on the Hitchcock thriller (itself loosely based on a WWI-era novel), runs to Saturday, September 3. The Young Centre (50 Tank House Lane), August 29 to September 3, various times, $25–$96.
With the exception of Soulpepper, most Toronto theatres are dark on Mondays, so it’s the night many actors let their hair down and maybe try something different. Mixed Company, which we’ve previously covered, pairs stage and screen actors with experienced improvisers; the actors get scripted “sides,” while the improvisers make their own up. Participants in this month’s edition include Sarah Murphy-Dyson (Reign, Mirvish’s Dirty Dancing), Debra McGrath (Little Mosque on the Prairie), and McGrath’s improviser husband, Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?). Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 9 p.m., $15.
Tuesday August 30
On the night when Toronto’s top comedy outfit, Second City Toronto, is opening their newest revue Come What Mayhem (which we’ll have a review of in next week’s Urban Planner), Bad Dog Theatre is hosting members of the comedy community for a talk titled Consent On & Off Stage. It’s a serious issue in the notoriously incestuous art form, which is currently under closer scrutiny due to the high profile banning of a performer from New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade—it is having repercussions for Amy Schumer and one of her show’s most outspoken writers. Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., FREE.
On a lighter note, video variety show Videorama exhibits a selection of original and curated content from local film makers, as well as the weirder corners of the internet, for the audience’s viewing pleasure. This month’s edition will be hosted by musician Laura Barrett (of The Hidden Cameras, who’s no stranger to strange videos) and feature the “live” premiere of the above video plus submissions, which they’ll take right up until showtime (you can make your own by emailing [email protected]). Dundas Video (831 Dundas Street West), 8:30 p.m., PWYC.
Wednesday August 31
Two classic dramas opening in Toronto this week are receiving unusual productions.
Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, about a small and struggling family trying to improve their lot in life, is co-produced by 73H and The Howland Company (Casimir and Caroline, 52 Pick-Up) and features Hannah Spear (Trout Stanley) and Tracey Hoyt (The Drowsy Chaperone)—both known more in comedy circles than the theatre community—in the iconic lead female roles of Laura and Amanda Wingfield. The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West), August 31 to September 11, 8 p.m., $15–$30.
As part of the Ashkenaz Festival, a festival celebrating Jewish art and culture, a recent off-Broadway production of Arthur Miller’s classic Death of a Salesman is being presented in Yiddish with English surtitles. One of our favourite shows at the recent SummerWorks festival was the similarly surtitled Mr. Shi and His Lover (in Mandarin), so we have high hopes for this critically acclaimed production starring Avi Hoffman, who was nominated for a Drama Desk award for his portrayal of Willy Loman. Toronto Centre for the Arts (5040 Yonge Street), August 31 to September 10, 8 p.m., $18–$36.
Thursday September 1
This month’s edition of AGO First Thursday is being produced in association with the Manifesto Festival and features talent drawn from that local community as well as a performance from New York’s Mykki Blanco, food from the Night Market, and a special look at the AGO’s newest exhibit, Theaster Gates: How to Build a House Museum.
Art Gallery Of Ontario (314 Dundas Street West), 7 p.m, $11–$14.
The monthly comedy showcase Yas Kween, featuring (mostly) performers who identify as racialized women, is moving from its old Sunday slot to a new day and time. This latest edition, hosted and produced by Nelu Handa, will feature Aisha Alfa, Heath Salazar, Keesha Brownie, and more. Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor Street West), 9:30 p.m., $10.
Friday September 2
This year’s 22nd annual Fan Expo will feature comic, entertainment, and cultural icons such as Stan Lee, Margaret Atwood, George Takei, and many more, plus more cosplay than you could ever imagine. Metro Toronto Convention Centre (222 Bremner Boulevard), September 1–4, $25–$60.
It’s the last Indie Fridays concert of the summer (as well as the last beer garden at the “centre of the universe” for the season), so make the most of it! The final lineup of free, quality musical entertainment: Kerwin Du Bois, Dr. Jay de Soca Prince, and more special guests (plus, the no doubt enthusiastic horde of Ryerson University’s frosh). Yonge and Dundas Square (1 Dundas Street East), 8 p.m., FREE.
Long Weekend September 3–5
This is the first year that BuskerFest will be plying their diverse talents outside of the city’s core, having decamped for The Beaches, where performers of all kinds from all over the world will demonstrate their skills for your change (and higher denomination bills). In addition to the many roving performers over the long weekend, there will be a beer garden (of course), a car show, and a pair of special cabaret benefit shows hosted by our favourite clown sisters, Morro and Jasp. Woodbine Park (1695 Queen Street East), September 2–5, PWYC.
The annual celebration of music geared towards the geeky, Nerd Noise Night, is aligned with this weekend’s Fan Expo (see above) and features such local talent as Wordburglar, the “rap viper“; Hervana, an all-female Nirvana cover band; and The Cybertronic Spree, who specialize in performing the soundtrack to 1986’s Transformers: The Movie, though they’re more than meets the eye (they can bust out other classic cartoon songs, too). The Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen Street West), doors at 8:30 p.m., $12.
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