Spooky album releases, theatre performances, and parades in the lead-up to Halloween.
Urban Planner is your weekly curated guide to what’s on in Toronto—things that are local, affordable, and exceptional.
Monday, October 24
Weekly stand-up showcase ALTdot Comedy Lounge, whose history we’ve previously written about, has a typically fine bill of comics this week, including Aisha Brown, Andrew Johnston (Laugh Sabbath, Bitch Salad), and host Julia Hladkowicz, who was a recent finalist for SiriusXM’s Top Comic competition. The Rivoli (334 Queen Street West), 9 p.m., $10 (includes comp for future show).
Weekly musical theatre open mic SINGular Sensation is presenting a special sing-through of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s “Once More, with Feeling” musical episode, with Buffyverse costumes encouraged. While the intimate Statlers stage precludes any sort of staging, guest producer Samantha Piper and regular host/producer Jennifer Walls will no doubt raise the stakes beyond a simple live to mic performance of the episode’s score. Statlers (487 Church Street), 10 p.m., FREE.
Tuesday, October 25
Musicians Andrew Penner (Sunparlour Players) and Miranda Mulholland (Great Lake Swimmers) have collaborated on a new project called Harrow Fair, and are releasing their first LP as a duo. Both have local reputations as animated, atmospheric, even “spooky” live performers, and what we’ve heard of the LP Call To Arms so far seems to indicate the pairing accentuates those traits. The Dakota Tavern (249 Ossington Avenue), 7–9 p.m., $10.
It’s already run for two weeks in Toronto, in French. Now, Tomson Highway’s comic operatic cabaret The (Post) Mistress, starring Patricia Cano as a boisterous small-town Ontario postmaster (and with Highway accompanying on keys), will close out its last two weeks in English, with a bit of Cree and French mixed in. Cano sings in three different Canadian languages, but Highway’s numbers are international, as Cano’s Marie-Louise sings songs inspired by the letters from around the world that end up in her hands before delivery. To November 6, Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street), Tuesdays–Saturdays, 8 p.m., Saturdays 3:30 p.m., Sundays 2:30 p.m., $19–$49, PWYC Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Wednesday, October 26
Coal Mine Theatre is opening their 2016–2017 season with Breathing Corpses, the Toronto premiere of English playwright Laura Wade’s Critics’ Circle-winning 2005 story of live people dealing with dead ones. (Actual dead, not undead.) David Ferry directs a cast of seven Toronto actors in overlapping scenes, akin to Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde—only the connecting thread is bodies, not sexual partners. To November 13, Coal Mine Theatre (1454 Danforth Avenue), Tuesday–Saturdays 7:30 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m., $25–$35.
Why Not Theatre’s work has often crossed continents, both in staging and in subject matter, and their latest show to premiere here in Toronto is Like Mother, Like Daughter. The show, which debuted in the U.K., features women who have immigrated to the country with their first-generation descendants. Some of the daughters are professional actors, and some of the mothers are, but many are non-performers. Over the course of the four-day, six-show run, audience members will be invited to join the cast onstage for a meal after the show. To October 30, 918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media & Education (918 Bathurst Street), Wednesday–Saturday 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $15–$20.
Thursday, October 27
Outside the March, who most recently “crashed” Nuit Blanche with a treasure hunt for 100 red balloons scattered throughout the city, specializes in site-specific theatrical experiences. To raise funds for their upcoming production, TomorrowLove, the company is throwing a unique seasonal party, a Séance of the Century, held in an abandoned funeral home. Ghostly figures will roam the building, while guests uncover clues about the identities and enjoy hors d’oeuvres from the Tempered Room, as well as an open bar featuring Pelee Island Winery and Beau’s Brewery selections. 733 Mount Pleasant Road, 7:30 p.m., $45-$90.
Disappointed by the lack of recent Halloween-themed music, comedians Aimee Ambroziak, Devon Hyland, and Josh Murray (who all work at Second City) decided to take matters into their own hands as The Krulls. They’ve recorded their Halloween Album, which includes tunes like the surf-rock number “Zombie Dock Party,” or the mummy ballad “Tombs of Gold,” and tonight’s album release party will include a live (undead?) performance by the band, as well as loot bags, costumes, and, of course, that zombie dance party. See-Scape (2840 Dundas Street West), 8 p.m., $10.
Friday, October 28
d’bi.young anitafrika’s most recent Dora Award win was for the second play in this past year’s Orisha Trilogy. Her first Dora win, back in 2005, was for Bloodclaat, part of her Sankofa Trilogy. It is Bloodclaat, a solo show about a Jamaican girl’s issues with menstruation and her abusive family, that the Watah Theatre founder is remounting for the next two weeks at her studio space. To November 6, Watah Theatre (9 Trinity Street, #317), Wednesday–Saturdays 7 p.m., Wednesdays–Sundays 2 p.m., $30 (PWYC Wednesdays).
Didn’t score a ticket to Tegan and Sara at Massey Hall tonight (or July Talk, which you can read more about below)? Or do you prefer their earlier country-influenced work, before they become a massive pop sensation? Well, country-roots troubadour Donovan Woods, who’s previously been voted Best Local Songwriter by Now Magazine readers, brings his Ain’t Troubled tour to the Annex tonight, with special guest Joey Landreth. Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre (427 Bloor Street West), 8:30 p.m, $29.50–$39.50.
Weekend October 29–30
It’s had to relocate a few times, but record store Rotate This has made it to 25 years, serving Toronto’s vinyl music aficionados, which is no small feat considering the challenges brick-and-mortar music shops have faced since they started. They’re marking the occasion with the Rotate This 25th Anniversary Party, featuring in-store performances by The Sadies, Teenanger, a stacked line-up of DJ’s, cake and pizza, giveaways, and more. Rotate This (186 Ossington Avenue), 11 a.m.–8 p.m., FREE.
Torontoist published an extensive guide to Halloween 2016 earlier this month, but if we had to pick just one thing from that guide to highlight, it’d be the 17th annual Night of Dread, a parade of towering ghosts, fire-spinners, demons, and more that starts with a community gathering in Dufferin Grove Park. That’s where Clay & Paper Theatre will help participants who’ve made masks at workshops over the week “costume up,” followed by the 6 p.m. parade through Bloorcourt Village, which will end at Dufferin Grove for live music and more. Saturday October 29, Dufferin Grove Park (875 Dufferin Street), 4 p.m. onwards, FREE.
Tonight’s the final night of July Talk‘s two-night, all-ages stand at the Danforth Music Hall, touring their 2016 album Touch. Their most recent video, for “Beck + Call,” featuring Tanya Tagaq (and choreographed in part by Quote Unquote Collective, whose Mouthpiece opened last week), drew on co-lead singers Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis’ backgrounds in dance and film, respectively. The local outfit’s reputation for strange and spontaneous live performances will be showcased for their largest hometown crowd yet (leaving off their previous opening gigs for The National and Alabama Shakes). Friday October 28 and Saturday October 29, Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth Avenue), doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m., $29.50.
The East Coast Comedy Night has been a big hit the past two years, so this year, organizers have separated the talent (there’s a lot of performers with Maritime roots in Toronto) into a mainly stand-up showcase at 8 p.m., followed by an improv show at 10 p.m.. Guests for the early show include Tim Steeves, Meg MacKay, and musical duo The Greyhound Riders. Guests confirmed for the improv set include Jess Grant, Ralph MacLeod, Ashley Seaman, and musician Jordan Armstrong. Saturday October 29, The Social Capital (154 Danforth Avenue, 2nd floor), 8 p.m., $15 ($5 for 10 p.m. improv show only).
You can cap your weekend off with a pair of showcases programmed by theatre producer Derrick Chua, for the 120 Diner Cabaret Series. The early show features Ryan G. Hinds, recently returned from New York City, and mezzo soprano Renée Strasfeld. The late show will feature Rielle Braid (Ride The Cyclone, Mr. Burns: a Post-Electric Play) and Sarah Lynn Strange (2Divine, The Pirate Queen of the Stars). Sunday October 30, 120 Diner (120 Church Street), 6 p.m. & 8:30 p.m., $20 per show, $30 both shows.
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