Urban Planner: What's On In Toronto, September 15-20
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Urban Planner: What’s On In Toronto, September 15-20

This week, the music of the movies; Toronto Fringe Festival hits return; outdoor eating and activities on the streets, beaches, and in parks; celebrations of Jon Kaplan, the Polaris Prize short list, and more.

Left to Right, Nigel Downer and Anders Yates appear in Bad Dog Theatre’s Toronto, I Love You. Photo by Connor Low.

Friday, September 15

The Toronto International Film Festival wraps up this weekend, and the city’s live theatre companies are raring to go. Bad Dog Theatre Company, which trucks in improvised theatre and comedy, is launching their fall season with short run remounts of two of their most acclaimed recent formats: Toronto, I Love You, a whimsical look at chance encounters across the city that was a hit at the Toronto Fringe Festival, and La Grande Jatte, a clever concept of stories in a public place inspired by the famous Seurat painting. Both shows are directed by Bad Dog AD Julie Dumais Osborne, returning to the company after a year’s leave of absence.

To September 23, Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor Street West), various times, $10-$15.

How do you top the spectacle of seeing films with stars in attendance? How about making each audience member the star? the Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories (or FIVARS for short) is hoping to attract film fans, both local and visiting, into spending a couple of hours sampling the short experiences created with an individual user in mind, many specifically for specialized equipment that immerse the viewer in the experience.

To September 17, House of VR (639 Queen Street West), various two-hour blocks, $50 per block.

The third annual psychedelic Night Owl Festival curates four nights of local and international music acts that are “strange and weird.” Some of these may fly typically under the radar, but there are also some established rock acts participating, including veteran Montreal band The Besnard Lakes (who’ll be performing their 2007 album, Are the Dark Horse, from front to back) and California’s Ty Segall (playing a solo acoustic set).

To September 17, various venues & times, $10-$25 in advance.

Jera Wolfe and Julie Pham in a scene from Miigis. Photo by Bennett Mosse.

Saturday, September 16

Food trucks typically congregate at nearly every summer festival in Toronto, but they’re the raison d’être of this weekend’s Food Truck Festival Ontario, one of nearly a dozen such fests in the city this summer. The key draw for this one — besides the dozens of participating four-wheeled vendors — is every truck having at least one $6 or less item, and a “food star” pass that gets VIP tasters in a full 90 minutes before the general public.

Sherbourne Common (61 Dockside Drive), 1 p.m.-10 p.m. (11:30 a.m. VIP access), FREE.

After some below seasonal temperatures last week, this weekend looks to have sun and mid-20s right through, so it may be your last chance (summer officially ends next Friday, FYI) to slip on a suit and soak it up on the east end’s beaches. The Toronto Beaches Festival at Woodbine Beach is free, and features a beer garden ($10 line bypass glasses benefit the Michael Garron Hospital revitalization project), a market, a live painting auction, and more, all on the sand.

Woodbine Beach (1675 Lake Shore Avenue), Noon-8 p.m., FREE.

Red Sky Performance, an Indigenous contemporary performance company, fuses music and dance together for their world premiere of Miigis, which draws on Anishinaabe and Métis legends focusing on the titular shells, which are central to shared legends and prophecies. Twenty-four musicians and dancers are taking part in the dance shows on Friday and tonight. On Sunday, a special concert performance takes place in a matinee.

To September 17, Historic Fort York (250 Fort York Boulevard), Friday-Saturday, 6:30 p.m., Sunday, 3 p.m., FREE.

Aisha Brown appears on Big Norm’s Comedy Cookout Sunday night, part of the Soul Food Comedy Festival. Photo by Corbin Smith/Torontoist.

Warming up the city’s comedy fans before the JFL42 festival at month’s end, the Soul Food Comedy Festival doesn’t actually feature cooking—just food for your soul, in the form of comedy from international headliners like Aries Spears, Luenell, and Big Norm. There’s lots of local talent involved, too: Trixx, Chris Robinson, Aisha Brown, and more. Shows take place at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and FountainBlu venues at Exhibition Place, and at Comedy Bar.

To September 17, various venues & times, $20-$80.

Also at Comedy Bar this weekend in a late night slot: the Fictional Roast of the Little Mermaid, in which comics dress up as characters from the Disney hit and take shots at the sprightly undersea transplant and internet meme. Comics taking part include Pat Thornton, Kris Siddiqi, and Sarah Hillier as the petite redhead with (new) legs.

Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 10 p.m, $10.

Sunday, September 17

The second and final edition of this summer’s Open Streets TO takes over two of the core’s busiest streets and turns them pedestrian, encouraging group dog walks, and music and cultural demonstrations centred at 10 different activity hubs, including a special Canada 150 hub at Yonge and Bloor.

Bloor Street (from Christie Street to Sherbourne Street) and Yonge Street (Bloor Street to Queen Street), 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., FREE.

Up the hill to the midtown Artscape Wychwood Barns, the Toronto Garlic Festival features chefs, brewers, and artists all presenting creations inspired by the humble herb (technically, a lily). Adults can get in for $5 to sample all sorts of things; kids get in free.

Artscape Wychwood Barns (601 Christie Street), 9 a.m.-5 p.m., $5 (FREE under 12 years of age).

Vanessa Smythe (seen here recording a story for CBC’s Podcast Playlist) double bills with Death Ray Cabaret tonight. Photo by Gabriel Li.

The Small World Music Festival, running all this week, decamps out of the (mostly smaller) music venues and into the recently renovated Trillium Park for Sunday daytime programming, featuring over a dozen live music acts, including Turbo Street Funk and Maracatu Mar Aberto. Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic blanket and basket.

To September 29, various venues and times, FREE-$108.

Both Death Ray Cabaret and Vanessa Smythe have recently toured to the prestigious Edmonton International Fringe Festival, and the three performers (Jordan Armstrong, Kevin Matviw, and Smythe) will be revisiting material from the critically acclaimed shows they brought there, and perhaps talking a bit about their overseas experiences, at the Sunday night cabaret series at 120 Diner.

120 Diner (120 Church Street), 8:30 p.m., $20.

Weaves play the Polaris Prize Gala tonight.

Monday, September 18

The perennially popular Trampoline Hall, a monthly lecture series (and now podcast) featuring speakers on topics they’re amateurs in, is curated this month by Erica Kopyto and features: Canadian Roots Exchange’s Max FineDay on resilience and Indigenous humour, theatre creator Audrey Dwyer (Serenity Wild) on staring into the void, and Context Corp’s Lewis Poplek on a good idea (the bicycle) not properly implemented.

The Garrison (1197 Dundas Street West), doors at 7:40 p.m., show at 8 p.m., $6.

It’s been narrowed down to 10 performers, five of which—Lisa LeBlanc, Lido Pimienta, Tanya Tagaq, Leif Vollebekk, and Weaves—are scheduled to perform at the Polaris Music Prize Gala. Doors open at 6 p.m., with food being served; music and award presentations begin at 8 p.m., and there are still some tickets available.

The Carlu (444 Yonge Street), 8 p.m., $75.

Jon Kaplan. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Tuesday, September 19

Nearly every theatre in town for the past six months has had one seat reserved for a man who saw nearly everything in town for more than 30 years, and his name was on nearly every lip at the 2017 Dora Awards. We’re referring, of course, to Jon Kaplan. A Celebration of Jon Kaplan takes place today in one of the larger theatres in the city, where hundreds of theatre artists are expected. There will be live performances and memorial speeches, and a cash bar wake after. Admission is free, but an advanced ticket is required.

St. Lawrence Centre (27 Front Street East), doors at 2:30 p.m., memorial at 3 p.m., wake at 4:30 p.m., FREE (advanced booking required).

There are a number of special events featuring the music of the movies tonight. To start, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting Mychael Danna’s music from Life of Pi as a new orchestral suite in their Opening Night series; at the intermission, Danna and director Ang Lee will discuss the film and its impact.

Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street), 7 p.m., $50-$154.

Over on Yonge Street, as part of the Small World Music Festival, Brazilian artist Seu Jorge revisits the music of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, the 2004 Wes Anderson film in which he plays a series of David Bowie covers.

Massey Hall (178 Victoria Street), 7 p.m., $46.50-$107.50.

And in the west end, as part of Indie88’s free Band And A Movie series, Hollerado will play a short set and introduce one of their favourite movies: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Royal Cinema (608 College Street), doors at 7:30 p.m., FREE (tickets handed out at 5:30 p.m.).

Wednesday, September 20

One of the critical hits of this summer’s Toronto Fringe Festival, The Seat Next to the King returns for a limited run at the Theatre Centre. The two hander, written by Steven Elliott Jackson and directed by Tanisha Taitt, features two men (played by Kwaku Okyere and Conor Ling), both associated with famous historical figures (Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson, respectively) who have life-altering encounters in two different time periods in a public washroom.

To October 1st, The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West), Tuesday-Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 2:30 p.m., $17-$29.

RPM Live “is a concert series showcasing the best in Indigenous music and performance from across Turtle Island.” With a focus on electronic music, this return of the series, it’s sixth edition, features a critically-acclaimed headliner—YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN — plus the Toronto debut of nêhiyawak, and WHOOP-Szo.

The Smiling Buddha (961 College Street), doors at 7:30, show at 8 p.m., $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

The Wilderness of Manitoba, whose new LP Across the Dark was released on Friday, play a hometown show before embarking on a fall Canadian tour. Their special guests at this release show: Jenny Berkel, and FXRRVST.

The Garrison (1197 Dundas Street West), doors at 8 p.m., $15-$18.

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