It seems rare these days for a theatre group to put on a classic, untampered presentation of a Shakespeare play. First Act Productions is no exception to this trend, with their short run offering, All Shook Up: An Elvis Musical. Set to a soundtrack of Presley’s best known rock and roll hits, this upbeat musical takes its storyline from Twelfth Night.
Parkdale’s own Miranda Mulholland of Great Lake Swimmers fiddle-fame has coordinated a series of concerts in obscure venues this summer, mimicking the salons of La Belle Époque. The second instalment of La Belle Éparkdale features performances from Grapes of Wrath’s Kevin Kane, with special guest, Patrick Brealey. Specially prepared snacks will be provided by gourmet Krysta Oben.
There’s a lot of outdoor movie screenings in the city during the summer, but very few focus on children’s programming. Family Movies in the Park does solely that. Gather up the youngsters, grab some free popcorn, and check out Wreck it Ralph (July 24) and Despicable Me (Aug 15) under the stars.
Some people never outgrow their love of childhood outdoor games. If you’re one of them, you need to join the Manhunt Toronto network. Every week they stake out a different corner of the city to engineer a series of “radical” games of Hide and Seek, Capture the Flag, Freeze Tag, and Octopus in parks and urban spaces. Check their site to find out where to meet up each night.
The name “Mesopotamia” derives from a Greek term meaning “land between the rivers.” The Royal Ontario Museum’s latest major exhibit, which opens on June 22, takes this literally, as visitors flow between painted representations of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on the floor.
Presented by the British Museum and rounded out with pieces from institutions in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, “Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World” covers 3,000 years of human development in the cradle of urban civilization. Most of the 170 artifacts on display have never been shown in Canada.
If Fringe and SummerWorks aren’t enough to satisfy your summer theatre cravings, the world-renowned Stratford Festival is now only a bus ride away from downtown Toronto, thanks to the new Stratford Direct bus route (“the best thing [the Festival] has done in years” according to one usher at the Avon Theatre). Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino has put together a season to please tastes from the traditional to the extravagant. Here’s what we think about five of Stratford’s current productions.
Flight: A Thrilling History of an Idea is a new exhibition from the Toronto Reference Library that gathers a number of rare items that explore the theme of the possible and the impossible. Some of the highlights on display are La vingtième siècle: la vie électrique (a rare French book that shows how scientific discoveries would have affected people in 1955), Tame (a sci-fi pulp magazine), and Worldly Wisdom (watercolour that depicts a Leonardo da Vinci-like figure creating a winged flying machine). You’ll find the exhibition in the library’s TD Gallery.
When Animal House first turned the toga into suitable party attire in 1978, the landscape of the film comedy was forever altered. TOGA! The Reinvention of American Comedy, a new film series that kicked off Wednesday at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, seeks to chart the changing comedic sensibilities that have occurred in the years since the film’s release. From big budget blockbusters, to libido-fuelled sex romps, to carefully calibrated exercises in nuance and timing, the selections in the program are some of the funniest films ever made.
The Beaches International Jazz Festival marks its 25th anniversary as it wraps up its 2013 edition this weekend. On tap are lots of cover bands, pan flute-led ensembles, and a sea of boomers in Hawaiian shirts walking their dogs.
Is that “Cheeseburger in Paradise” you just heard? Probably. Is that 70-year-old white gentleman in the “Canadian Tuxedo” doing a Bob Marley cover? You bet he is. One love, Toronto. Calling this event a jazz festival at this point is just illogical. The flavour is really more akin to the Taste of the Danforth, or Taste of the Kingsway,than a music festival.
So what’s the best way to enjoy this fest? Grab a seat on one of Queen Street East’s many great patios, get a bite and drink and soak up the great weather and the people watching. If you’re interested in going specifically for the music, don’t linger or wander. Head directly to see one of our top three picks, which are below.
Soulpepper Theatre collaborates on a Joe Orton play, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s artistic producer Brendan Healey. Guest director Healey has coached some Soulpepper theatre stalwarts—Stuart Hughes, Fiona Reid, Michael Simpson, and David Beazley—for this dark comedy about a charming lodger who incites illicit passions among his other housemates.
CUE, a non-profit arts organization that encourages artistic expression from the city’s fringes, hosts “Margin of Eras.” The exhibit gathers over 20 different artists’ work for display in a pop-up gallery on Wednesdays to Sundays for two weeks in July. For the launch party on Friday, July 12 at 7 p.m., there’ll be a live New Orleans jazz band, and more.
Go on, escape the office for an extended lunch break and take in the tastes and sounds of Fresh Wednesdays. Each week, a different Canadian artist performs as you purchase baked goods and locally-grown produce from a farmer’s market. Pop singer-songwriter Justin Dubé kicks off the concert series, followed by Beat Café featuring poetry by Raine Maida (July 17), rising folk-pop stars Emma Lee and Peter Katz (August 7), and more.
Travel back to turn-of-the-century Paris—La Belle Époque—with the Toronto Summer Music Festival. Established and up-and-coming classical musicians gather for this three-week festival to celebrate works by French composers such as Ravel, Debussy, and Fauré. Lectures, workshops, interviews, and concerts will take place in various venues across the city.
Cats is a challenging musical to stage for a number of reasons. The narrative is thin and strange; the lyrics are drawn primarily from T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, with more borrowed from some other Eliot poems, “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” (which original director Trevor Nunn adapted into the song “Memory”) and “Moments of Happiness.” The result is not so much a story as ideas and character sketches. Old Deuteronomy, patriarch of the Jellicle Cats, calls the creatures together once a year to celebrate, and for one cat to be chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer (essentially, to die and be reincarnated). Most of the songs detail the adventures and virtues of a single cat in particular, essentially serving as that cat’s audition for the honour of ascension.
If you’ve never played Settlers of Catan, you’re probably wondering what could be more dull than spending your evening playing a board game about old-timey landowners. But that’s because you haven’t played it, yet. Gladstone Hotel aims to change that with their Summers of Catan program. Every Wednesday, gather with other Catan-fans, drink specially discounted beer, and get settled! Bring your own boards, or use those provided.
Like something out of a movie (except, you know, Footloose), you can spend your summer nights dancing in the open air of the Town Square. Join Dexter and Janice of DjDance as they lead Latin Salsa classes twice a week, all summer.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged is back again for a three-day stretch of hilarious insanity. For the uninitiated, this performance does exactly what’s promised in its name. It performs all of Shakespeare’s 37 plays in just 87 minutes. It sold out all last summer so consider picking up your tickets while you can.
Playwright and director Bobby Del Rio touches on the struggle artists face in The Trial of Ken Gass. Based on the real-life dismissal of a Canadian theatre legend, the play sees Ken Gass continually put on trial for crimes of which he knows nothing. The part of Gass will be played by a different actor every night, including Peter Keleghan, Art Hindle, Diane Flacks, Greg Dunham, and Dinesh Sachdev.
Musical theatre has a reputation for sometimes being out of touch and old-fashioned, so the prospect of Mirvish Productions bringing a tour of Cole Porter’s 1934 musical Anything Goes to Toronto wasn’t especially heartening at first—even if this particular production, by New York City’s Roundabout Theatre Company, won three 2011 Tony Awards.
But say, pal, wouldn’t you know, we were downright tickled to have such a good time at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The jokes are still corny, the songs still melodramatic, and the script still has some pretty racist content, but the show manages to transcend its era.
Do you feel guilty about staying indoors in front of your TV when it’s nice outside? There’s a way around that—sitting by the lake and catching great films every week with Harbourfront’s Free Flicks. This year, NOW Magazine’s Norm Wilner has chosen a crop of imagination-stretching films from notable directors and writers. From Little Shop of Horrors, to The Triplets of Belleville, and That Thing You Do!, each title resides, at least a little bit, in the fantasy world.
This post originally listed Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moulin Rouge! as films being shown, when they are actually just options for the audience choice film.
Love is in the air this summer as TIFF in the Park returns for another season of outdoor film screenings, showcasing the best romances from across the decades. Bring a blanket and get comfy on the lawn (yes, the Entertainment District has green space, too) to enjoy everything from Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, to Casablanca, Sleepless in Seattle, and The Notebook.
The Bad Dog Theatre Company is celebrating the return of TV’s Breaking Bad in their own special way—by putting on a tribute show. A five-week improv comedy serial, Faking Bad, follows the trials and tribulations of a high school home economics teacher looking to make easy money in the drug world. Featuring performances from Bruce Hunter, Conor Holler, Dan Beirne, Dale Boyer, Nigel Downer, James Gangl, and Craig Anderson.