Returning clowns, swashbucklers, and sketch performers; pizza in the park and music at the fort; wrestling, dinosaurs, and true crime; a memorial for WWII soldiers, and one for a young cyclist.
Wednesday, May 31
With Honest Ed’s coming down in stages this year, The Toronto Fringe Festival, which for years now has called the alleyway and parking lot behind the labyrinthine discount store its HQ, is on the move. Tonight, they’re showcasing their new summer location, behind the Scadding Court Community Centre at Dundas and Bathurst, with a Fringe preview and launch party, with BBQ and treats from select Market 707 vendors, some preview performances, a few noteworthy guests (including Councillor Joe Cressy and Fringe executive director Kelly Straughan) and hosts (and perennial festival favourites) Morro and Jasp (a.k.a. Amy Lee and Heather Marie Ennis).
Wednesday, May 31, Agincourt Community Centre (707 Dundas Street West), 6 p.m.–8 p.m., FREE.
After the evening Fringe party, busy clown sisters Morro and Jasp head down Bathurst Street to host the Toronto Festival of Clowns‘ own preview, a cabaret showcasing some of the acts taking part in the five-day festival, running until Sunday, including past Fringe hit My Big Fat German Puppet Show, Russian clown Blini (No Elephant Show), and Chloe Payne’s Fake Nerd Girl. The cabaret kicks off at 9:30 p.m.; shows continue daily, with additional cabarets on Friday and Saturday.
To June 4, Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street), various times, $16.50 (five-show pass $66, 10-show pass $115.50).
Thursday, June 1
After a successful series of fundraising events last summer for the David Suzuki Foundation, Pizza In The Park returns again this summer, with chefs from Pizza Libretto cooking their renowned pies in the Christie Pits wood burning oven. The oven can only cook three pizzas at a time, so to offset demand, they’ll also be serving treats from Banjara, the popular Indian restaurant that borders the park on the southwest side.
Thursday, June 1, Christie Pits Park (750 Bloor Street West), 6 p.m.–8 p.m., all proceeds to the David Suzuki Foundation.
It’s been years since local all-female sketch troupe The GTOs performed, but the women, all now in their 40s, have decided to return to the stage with new (and now “classic”) material. Subtitled Overkill The People, the show will also welcome veteran comedy guests Laurie Elliott, Boyd Banks, and host Dawn Whitwell.
Thursday, June 1, The Rivoli (332 Queen Street West), doors at 8 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m., $12 in advance, $15 at the door.
We in Toronto haven’t had to wait years between Sex T-Rex shows, thank goodness; the troupe performs regularly up at Bad Dog Theatre. But it has been a few years since they toured out west, which they plan to do this summer, and to prepare, they’re staging a one-night-only remount of their hit show Swordplay: A Play Of Swords, in a late-night slot at Second City Toronto. The eight-bit arcade and Princess Bride—inspired swashbuckling adventure won “Best Comedy” awards at Just For Laughs and the Atlantic Fringe Festival last year (and raves from us last time it was performed in Toronto).
Thursday, June 1, Second City (55 Blue Jays Way), 10:30 p.m., $15.
Friday, June 2
This month’s edition of Friday Night Live at the Royal Ontario Museum focuses on a perennially popular exhibit with people of all ages: those big ol’ dinosaur bones. FNLROM: DinoNite will feature funk from Yasgurs Farm, Victoria Arbour introducing the ROM’s newest dinosaur, Zuul, and a series of Prehistoric Spelling Bees.
Friday, June 2, Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park), 7 p.m., $13–$17.
The members of Panacea have been busy doing lots of sketch in the two years since we last profiled them—but much of it hasn’t been under their troupe’s name. Three of the foursome are now regular cast members of The Sketchersons, writing and performing weekly in Sunday Night Live; Nicky Nasrallah sings with Songbuster: The Improvised Musical; and Allana Reoch has also been busy on Second City stages. But Panacea is back with a new (and, once again, profane) show, Be A Star or Get The F&^% OUT, which has a three-night stand this week at Bad Dog Theatre; directed by TTCA winner Carly Heffernan, it casts the four as cutthroat competitors looking to stand out in a “high stakes” revue.
June 1–3, Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor Street West), 9:30 p.m., $10.
Saturday, June 3
The Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists group never wants to have to organize another ghost bike ride, where a bicycle, painted white, is transported by cargo bike in a quiet processional ride to the location of Toronto’s latest cycling victim, and chained as close as the accident location as safely possible. But they clearly feel it’s necessary to draw attention to the shamefully slow progress on the City’s own VisionZero campaign for safe streets. Today’s ride is for the unnamed five-year-old who was killed when he spilled onto Lake Shore from a bike path that lacked any separation with busy Lake Shore Boulevard; Mayor John Tory has already announced that the City will review safety infrastructure along the entire trail system; news footage of scores of silent riders may help keep that commitment at the forefront of City Hall discussion.
Saturday, June 3, Matt Cohen Park (393 Bloor Street West), 10 a.m.–noon, FREE.
On to happier all ages programming; the Dundas West Festival will close that street to vehicular traffic for the day today from Ossington to Lansdowne and feature street vendors, entertainers (including a concert stage headlined by DIANA), and much more.
Saturday, June 3, Dundas Street West from Lansdowne to Ossington, 11 a.m.–11 p.m., FREE.
It’s not free, but if you’re willing to shell out, the all-ages-friendly Field Trip music festival features a sensational line-up of music acts from Toronto and far beyond, including a newly resurgent Broken Social Scene, Phoenix, and A Tribe Called Red. In addition to the music stages, there’s also a wide assortment of local food vendors, and a comedy stage with headliners DeAnne Smith and K. Trevor Wilson (Letterkenny).
June 3–4, Fort York Garrison Commons (250 Fort York Boulevard), 2 p.m.–11 p.m., $80–$200.
This weekend also features the final performances of the Musical Stage Company’s “indie rock” musical adaptation of Onegin, the story by Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, which is already a full opera and ballet. The show starts off with a rousing festive number by the ensemble, and features some audience interaction, strongly reminding us of the last show by the company in that space, the award-winning The Wild Party, which also starred the charismatic Daren A. Herbert. But the dour subject matter—a duel between friends over a meaningless insult, and meditations on life and death—start to drag on the show, despite the best efforts of adapters Veda Hille and Amiel Gladstone. It’s a fine show, with a particularly captivating performance by Hailey Gillis as the initially naive Tatyana, some fun anachronistic touches like Hebert’s mic drop to end his character’s introductory number, and it invites comparison to current Broadway hit Hamilton. But the story felt oddly slight, especially in the second act, despite a two-hour running time.
To June 4, Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street), Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday, 8 p.m.; Friday/Sunday, 7 p.m.; Wednesday/Sunday, 2 p.m., $35–$59.
Another veteran comedy act returning this week, The Doo Wops (John Catucci and David Mesiano), haven’t performed their musical comedy act in Toronto for a long while, and local fans have clearly missed them. Their early show sold out, prompting an added 9 p.m. slot. Both shows tonight feature supporting acts Laurie Elliott and Rhiannon Archer.
Saturday, June 3, Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 7 and 9 p.m., $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
Sunday, June 4
Local pro wrestling returns to the core with Hogtown Superslam 5, a showcase of local wrestling talent vying for the title of “Television Champion.” The event will be recorded for Rogers TV’s sixth season of Toronto wrestling. Undercard fights include Rage vs. The Golem and Goliath Ayala vs. The Masked Quicksilver; the title bout will feature Buck Gunderson vs. The Hacker for the openweight title.
Sunday June 4, Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor Street West), 5 p.m.–9 p.m., $15 in advance, $20 at the door.
Exclaim Comedy‘s Julianna Romanyk steps into producing with A Killer Show, asking some of her favourite local comics to tell stories and riff on their favourite true crime fascinations. The bill is, well, killer, with acts like Mark Little, Nour Hadidi, and host Nigel Grinstead.
Sunday, June 4, Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., $5 in advance, $7 at the door.
Monday, June 5
Storefront Arts Initiative may currently be without a full-sized performance space, but their studio is large enough to accommodate The Indie 6ix Playwrights Festival. Nightly this week, new plays by writers, including Marcia Johnson, Gord Rand, and Natalie Frijia, will be read by Storefront-associated actors directed by pros like Tom McGee and Tanya Rintoul. As the space is fairly small, advance tickets are suggested.
June 5-10, Storefront Studios (296 Brunswick Avenue), 8 p.m., $10 in advance, PWYC at the door.
Starting tonight and running every second night for a total of three performances, The Adventures of Tom Shadow is a new comedic play directed by Elphant Empire’s Peter Stevens and written by members of the cast, including Mark Little, Natalie Metcalfe, and Christian Smith, whose duo, Soul Decision, with fellow cast member Kevin Vidal was just announced as one of the featured acts at JFL42 this fall. The plot promises magical adventures, undercut by a dark current of intrusive reality; the play also features music by Flo & Joan’s Nicola Dempsey.
June 5, 7, and 9, Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., $12.
Tuesday, June 6
Today marks the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, when Allied Forces landed on multiple beaches in Europe to begin the slow push to victory against the Nazis. Living veterans of the invasion are few and far between now, and in their 90s, so the City, and others hosting commemorations around the globe, is doing what it can to recognize the survivors of that bloody day with their Commemorating D-Day event, with vintage vehicles on display and remarks from veterans and City officials in the square.
Tuesday, June 6, Nathan Phillips Square (100 Queen Street West), noon–3 p.m., FREE.
Many of those veterans might recognize the tunes in the new jukebox musical The Jazz Singer, an adaptation of the short story “The Day of Atonement” by Samson Raphaelson, which has already inspired films starring legends such as Al Jolson and Jerry Lewis. This production, written by local playwright Michael Ross Albert (whose Tough Jews just earned multiple Dora Award nominations) and directed by Timothy French, is ambitious and features show stopping performances of jazz and American pop music standards by Theresa Tova, Patrick Cook, and Kaylee Harwood, but suffers somewhat from a small stage and scaled back numbers; one gets the sense that a couple of hardworking chorus dancers are trying to make up for the lack of a dozen. Still, the show will be appreciated by fans of the classic American songbook.
To June 18, Toronto Centre For The Arts (5040 Yonge Street), Tues.–Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 7 p.m., Wed., 1 p.m., Sun., 2 p.m., $45–$80.
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