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Things to Do in Toronto: Shows & Events in November 2015



The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair returns to Toronto on November 6

NOVEMBER 3 & 5 Can’t feel your face? Perhaps you’re enjoying The Weeknd‘s woozy R&B tunes a little too much? The Toronto-born musician kicks off the month at the Air Canada Centre.

NOVEMBER 3 TO 22 The “in-between” lives and experiences of young Asian-Canadian men are unflinchingly depicted in Banana Boys, an acclaimed stage drama directed by Nina Lee Aquino and written by Leon Aureus (based on the novel by Terry Woo). First performed more than a decade ago, the play is being remounted at Factory Theatre as part of its “Naked Season,” which sees its productions stripped down to their most fundamental and striking elements.

NOVEMBER 6 We all know that human relationships can be proverbial minefields. Fortunately, the mines that inevitably go off can unearth gold—of the comedic variety. This year’s Just For Laughs Comedy Tour stop at Massey Hall features three stand-up comics, plus humorous host Gerry Dee, who’ll dig up some jokey gems about family, love, and the quirky ways in which we interact with each other.

NOVEMBER 6 Love Dusty Springfield? You’d do well not to pass on Natalie Prass. The Virginia-based singer-songwriter carries the banner for northern soul on her eponymous debut album, which she brings to the Horseshoe Tavern tonight.

NOVEMBER 6 TO 15 Rural charm comes to the city courtesy of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. For 10 days, the family-friendly event showcases the richness of farm life, with everything from livestock displays and sheep herding demonstrations to an array of contests featuring giant vegetables, butter tarts, butter sculptures and more. The Royal Horse Show sees skilled riders competing in high-stakes dressage and horse jumping events, including the Longines FEI World Cup Grand Prix, the Weston Canadian Open and the Royal Six Horse Hitch Championship.

NOVEMBER 7 An afternoon of back-patting and laudatory speechifying awaits as part of this year’s Canada’s Walk of Fame inductee celebration ceremony at the Sony Centre, which for 2015 honours national notables including singer Michael Bublé, hockey analysts Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, champion rower Silken Laumann and actor Wendy Crewson.

NOVEMBER 8 Contemplative lyrics gain significance within the soaring arrangements of the indie-Americana trio The Lone Bellow, which harmonizes tonight at the Opera House.

NOVEMBER 10 Take it easy with Don Henley. The Eagles’ lead singer stops by the Sony Centre to perform songs from his number one–selling Cass County, his first solo record in 15 years.

NOVEMBER 11 TO DECEMBER 20 The complex culture and tortuous politics of Eastern Europe are fodder for the latest work by Tarragon Theatre’s playwright-in-residence, Andrew Kushnir. His Wormwood follows an idealistic Canadian whose understanding of the region is upended in the aftermath of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution.

NOVEMBER 12 TO 15 Toronto offers an anything-but-chilly reception to culinary and musical talents from the far north during the fifth annual Taste of Iceland festival. For the event’s duration, the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Luma restaurant features a four-course prix fixe designed by Icelandic chef Ylfa Helgadóttir (in collaboration with Oliver & Bonacini’s Anthony Walsh and Luma’s Michael Wilson), while the evening of November 14 sees Icelandic melody-makers Samaris and Airplane and Spaceship perform alongside Toronto indie talents at Adelaide Hall. The Royal Cinema wraps things up on November 15 with free film screenings organized by the Reykjavik Shorts and Docs Fest.

NOVEMBER 13 Admit it, it’s been a while since you’ve given Barenaked Ladies much of a look. Think they’re worth a second glance? The iconic Canadian ensemble performs at Massey Hall tonight with Great Big Sea’s Alan Doyle.


The National Ballet of Canada presents The Winter’s Tale (photo: Johan Persson)

NOVEMBER 14 TO DECEMBER 5 A pair of Shakespearean tragedies about family, love and loss open the latest season of the National Ballet of Canada. The North American premiere of The Winter’s Tale leads the lineup with Christopher Wheeldon’s inventive yet engaging choreography, which combines traditional and modern dance elements to tell the story of King Leontes, whose jealous ways threaten to upend his family. On the King’s heels—or perhaps en pointe—are the Capulets and Montagues of Romeo and Juliet (November 25 to December 5); the star-crossed lovers’ tale is choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky.

NOVEMBER 14 TO DECEMBER 6 The age-old story of aspiring artists seeking the approval of a hard-to-please master is given a darkly comedic airing in Seminar, which pits four young writers against each other as they seek wisdom from a celebrated author and editor. Starring Canadian thespian Tom McCamus, the “Off-Mirvish” production is on stage at the Panasonic Theatre.

NOVEMBER 15 Wee ones won’t want to miss a chance to see the jolly man in red when he makes his annual appearance at the Santa Claus Parade. The world’s longest-running children’s parade (it began in 1905) has more than two-dozen colourful themed floats wending their way along the six-kilometre parade route.

NOVEMBER 15 TO 17 The popular National Geographic Live lecture series dives deep into the world’s oceans and pulls up acclaimed photographer Brian Skerry, whose images have long drawn attention to the vibrant yet constantly under threat ecosystem that exists beneath the waves.

NOVEMBER 17 TO 22 Kids and adults alike can kick off the holiday season with a live performance of a beloved television special: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the Musical captures the style and spirit of the nostalgic TV original, which tells of how the titular fawn earned his place at the lead of Santa’s sleigh.

NOVEMBER 17 TO 29 One of modern theatre’s landmark works, August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, is deconstructed and reconstituted in the operatic Julie by Belgian composer Philippe Boesmans. The incisive work is being given its North American premiere this month, courtesy of the Canadian Stage.

NOVEMBER 17 TO DECEMBER 6 At Factory Theatre, playwright Anoshi Irani’s Bombay Black pulls back the curtain on the harsh world of exotic dancing in India’s most populous city.

NOVEMBER 17 TO DECEMBER 13 A politician. An injured prostitute. A martyred wife. A story from the 11 o’clock news? No, but Domesticated, the latest production from Canadian Stage, could very well be ripped from the headlines. Two beloved Canadian actors, Paul Gross and Martha Burns—a real life couple of nearly three decades—star as beleaguered politician Bill Pulver and his dedicated wife Judy, both dealing with the aftermath of a sex scandal and the emotional upheaval it foists upon their marriage and their daughters.


Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider stars in his own Rock and Roll Christmas Tale

NOVEMBER 17 TO JANUARY 3 Holiday carols and heavy metal aren’t a typical combination, but Dee Snider’s Rock and Roll Christmas Tale manages to bring the disparate genres together in a surprisingly touching story about a band that’s willing to make a deal with the devil in exchange for fame and fortune. Okay, that doesn’t sound particularly seasonal, but rest assured the show by the Twisted Sister frontman blends his band’s popular songs, like “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” with guitar-driven versions of Christmas tunes and a heartwarming moral about not overlooking what you already have.

NOVEMBER 18 Be it comedy, music or drama, “It’s Always Something“—going on tonight at the Sony Centre, which hosts a star-studded variety show for Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, which provides support to children, teens and adults who’ve been diagnosed with cancer. The charitable evening is hosted by Russell Peters, and features the talented likes of improv comedian Colin Mochrie, R&B singer Francesco Yates, and actor Sean Cullen.

NOVEMBER 19 TO 21 Is prog rock in the midst of a resurgence? The answer is subjective at best, but there must be some meaning behind King Crimson‘s three-night stand at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, right?

NOVEMBER 20 & 21 The Sony Centre stage is transformed into a rink to welcome figure skating royalty for the Toronto premiere of Sleeping Beauty on Ice. Presented by Russia’s Imperial Ice Stars, a troupe of 24 Olympic, world, European and national champions who together hold more than 250 medals, the fairy tale set to music by Tchaikovsky is told through spectacular leaps, twirls and throws.

NOVEMBER 22 Beloved children’s entertainer Raffi—he of Baby Beluga, Down by the Bay, and The More We Get Together—has lately returned to the spotlight; this month it’s a big one, illuminating two shows at Roy Thomson Hall.


Dirty Dancing returns for a quick little rumba (photo: Matthew Murphy)

NOVEMBER 24 TO 29 Have a fleet-footed fling at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, which offers a quickie remount of Dirty Dancing—the Classic Story on Stage.

NOVEMBER 26 The thunderous power of indie rock is harnessed by Zeus. The Toronto-based band is at Lee’s Palace to perform their “classic” tracks.

NOVEMBER 27 A second set of Canadian-indie deities descends the mountain to play Lee’s Palace: The Dears are back in town with songs from their latest musical homily, Times Infinity Volume One.

NOVEMBER 27 And hey! Here’s one more cool bit of CanCon to round out your month of concert-going: Afie Jurvanen, better known as guitar-slinging troubadour Bahamas, is at Massey Hall with up-and-coming modern-folk band The Weather Station.

NOVEMBER 27 TO JANUARY 3  After two decades on stage portraying villains in a string of “fractured family musicals,” Ross Petty takes his final bow in Peter Pan. Known for his theatrical pantomimes of such fairy tales as Cinderella the Gags to Riches Family Musical and Snow White the Deliciously Dopey Family Musical, Petty this time takes on the role of Peter Pan’s arch nemesis, Captain Hook. The stage show, a new adventure about the boy who refused to grow up, is directed by Tracey Flye, and co-stars Eddie Glen, Dan Chameroy and Jessica Holmes. Fortunately, fans of these seasonal shows need not fear the end of Petty’s comedic endeavours; he’s simply hanging up his actor cap to focus more on producing.

NOVEMBER 29 Made famous by the movie The Sound of Music, Christmas with the Von Trapps sees Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and August von Trapp, the great-grandchildren of “fräulein” Maria, offering an evening of traditional and new songs.

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