What to Check Out in Toronto August 8-14: Blockbusters, Harry Potter, and The Beatles
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What to Check Out in Toronto August 8-14: Blockbusters, Harry Potter, and The Beatles

A live reading of The Cursed Child; re-live the Beatles at Maple Leaf Gardens; vegan food, community arts, and Shakespeare in our parks.

Urban Planner is your weekly curated guide to what’s on in Toronto—things that are local, affordable, and exceptional.

The cast of Songbuster: the Improvised Musical, playing Thursday night at Bad Dog Theatre's Summer Blockbuster Week. Photo by Connor Low.

The cast of Songbuster: An Improvised Musical, playing Thursday night at Bad Dog Theatre’s Summer Blockbuster Week. Photo by Connor Low.

Monday August 8

Bad Dog Theatre’s Summer Blockbuster Week is six nights of shows inspired by film and television’s biggest hits, featuring a wide assortment of Toronto improvisers. Shows over the week include a take on Law & Order (the UK version); the sixth “season” of Throne of Games; and an edition of Songbuster: An Improvised Musical, a smash hit at last month’s Fringe Festival. Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor Street West), shows @ 8 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. nightly (including some 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. shows), $10 per show, $15 per night, $25-$60 week passes.

Tuesday August 9

The folks at Spacing are celebrating the release of their summer issue out on the water, with a nautical-themed party (also known as a booze cruise) aboard Toronto’s River Gambler. Your ticket gets you passage aboard ship, access to “special programming” during the sail and, of course, a copy of Spacing Magazine‘s latest edition. Meet at 333 Lakeshore Boulevard East to embark at 6:30 p.m., ship sails at 7 p.m., returns at 11 p.m., $20.

Were you somewhat disappointed reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child due to the fussy stage directions and whatnot? Well, that’s because it’s a script that is really meant to be seen on stage. A full production will eventually come to Toronto, but, in the meantime, the next best thing is a play reading by professional actors. The Howland Company will be doing just that, and, while they have a full roster of actors, roles are up for grabs for anyone who shows up (and perhaps especially for those who show up in costume). Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street), 7 p.m., FREE.

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Wednesday August 10

Believe it or not, there’s a band bigger than the Tragically Hip playing Toronto this week. Well, a reasonable facsimile of them—the biggest band ever. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles playing Maple Leaf Gardens, Massey Hall and Classic Albums Live are recreating that show in what’s now known as Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre. (If you’re a fan of the Fab Four and don’t have the dough to get in, the Massey Hall band will also play a FREE show on Friday, August 19 at Yonge-Dundas Square’s Indie Fridays.) Mattamy Athletic Centre (50 Carlton Street), 8 p.m., $50-$100.

Thursday August 11

Award-winning blues outfit Raoul and the Big Time play The Rex on Queen Street on occasion, but this gig will be atypical; south a couple of blocks, outside, and out front of Roy Thompson Hall for the Live on The Patio series. They’ll play two sets for the after work crowd and the after dinner crowd. Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street), 6:30 p.m. & 8 p.m., FREE.

Even if you’re not a fan of Goose Island Breweries, you may want to consider attending their Migration Week tap takeover at SPiN. Why? Because while the Chicago-based brewers are holding court with their samples, table play at the popular ping-pong club is free (though you must be legal drinking age for entry). SPiN (461 King Street West), 7 p.m. – 11 p.m., FREE.

Friday August 12

After a launch party the night of August 11, the CultureShock Community Arts Festival gets properly underway. On Friday, local summer camps will participate in a talent show and parade, which will culminate in a showcase of dancers from across the GTA, then wrap-up with an outdoor film screening. On Saturday, acts will play all day while a kids zone, community market, and more take place. Little Avenue Memorial Park (near Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue), Friday, August 12 & Saturday, August 13, 1 p.m. onwards, FREE.

Kaleb Alexander and Qasim Khan in Hamlet in High Park. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Kaleb Alexander and Qasim Khan in Hamlet in High Park. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Weekend August 13-14

The vegan lifestyle is big business these days; consider that there’s more than three dozen vendors appearing at the Vegan Food and Drink Festival this weekend. In addition to vendors, there will be live entertainment (all of whom are professed vegans, as well). Fort York Garrison Common (250 Fort York Boulevard), 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., $10-$20.

With another heat wave expected mid-week, it may not seem like summer is nearing its close, but the Canadian Stage Shakespeare in High Park is fast approaching the end of their season on September 4. This year’s double bill of alternating shows, Hamlet and All’s Well That Ends Well, play nightly (save for Mondays) in the middle of High Park, and admission, as it has been since the first season 34 years ago, remains pay what you can. High Park Amphitheatre (Colborne Lodge Road and West Road), 8 p.m., PWYC.

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