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cirque du soleil

What to Do in Toronto: Festivals, Concerts and Events this October

THERE ARE ALWAYS SO MANY THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO. GET OUT AND ENJOY SOME OF THE MANY GREAT EVENTS AND CONCERTS TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE CITY THIS MONTH!

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

ALL MONTH LONG  Tony Award–winning musical The Book of Mormon is back at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The story centres on two missionaries who travel to Uganda in hopes of spreading the gospel but who experience a disconnect with the villagers who are dealing with AIDS, famine, poverty and war. Tickets are $49 – $200; visit mirvish.com for more information and to purchase.

ALL MONTH LONG This season at the Design Exchange, guest curator Jeanne Beker peeks into the wardrobes of iconic fashion designers and pulls out pieces that have made important political statements over the past 50 years for the exhibition “Politics of Fashion.” The striking garments lend both style and substance to longstanding ethical debates, gender issues, anti-war activism and more. General admission is $9.25 – $18.50; visit dx.org for more information and to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 3 Known for vibrant, thickly textured canvases that explore the physical and psychological connections between artist and landscape, artist Kim Dorland offers a series of new works for display at Angell Gallery. Expect pieces that continue to expand on the artist’s signature style and thematic concerns, further entrenching his position as Canada’s painter of record. Angell Gallery; 12 Ossington Ave., 416-530-0444. Open Wednesday to Saturday.

STARTS OCTOBER 12 Helen Lawrence, a new media production by visual artist Stan Douglas, mixes theatre, visual art, live action filming and computer-generated simulation in this story set in post-World War II Vancouver. Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., 416-366-1656. Tuesday to Thursday 8 p.m., Friday 7 p.m., Saturday 1 & 8 p.m., Wednesday & Sunday 1 p.m.; $30-$99; visit canadianstage.com or call 416-368-3110 to charge.

OCTOBER 17 TO 19 If you’ve ever longed to taste the recipes being made by TV chefs, the Delicious Food Show is your meal ticket. Whether you hunger for the inside scoop on trendy cuisine, advice on grilling the perfect steak, or simply a sinful chocolate cake recipe, celebrity chefs such as Tyler Florence, Chuck Hughes and Mario Batali have you covered. Join them, plus local chefs like DaiLo’s Nick Liu and Yours Truly’s Lachlan Culjak for a feast of workshops, cooking demos and food pairings. Direct Energy Centre, Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., general admission is $22; visit deliciousfoodshow.com for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 23 Giants of the literary world descend upon the waterfront for 35th edition of the International Festival of Authors. A global roster of 200-plus novelists, poets, essayists and more share their passion for the written word during 11 days of readings, panel discussions, interviews and book signings. CanLit darling Ann-Marie MacDonald, poet Dionne Brand, crime fiction novelist James Ellroy, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, Irish scribes Colm Tóibín and John Boyne, and critically acclaimed Emma Donoghue are among the expected participants. Harbourfront Centre, general admission $18 for most events; call 416-973-4000 or visit ifoa.org for a schedule and to purchase tickets.

Opera Atelier Alcina. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Opera Atelier’s Alcina starts October 23. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

STARTS OCTOBER 23  Sorceress sisters weave romantic entanglements in Alcina, the latest offering from Opera Atelier. In the company’s new, period-appropriate production of Handel’s 18th-century masterwork, the handsome Ruggiero finds himself on an island in search of the seductress Alcina; his true love, Bradamante, follows, disguised as a knight, and immediately draws the gaze of Alcina’s sister Morgana. But on this island of illusion, it’s true love that proves to be most magical. Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St., evenings at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.. Tickets are $38 – $181; call 1-855-622-2787 to charge or visit operaatelier.com for details.

OCTOBER 24 TO 26 Cask Days brings unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated brews to the masses, allowing breweries the chance to show off their hops. This year’s event has about 300 different cask-conditioned ales by 100-plus breweries from across Canada, the United States and the U.K., including Niagara Oast House, Nelson Brewery, Grizzly Paw, Microbrasserie Le Castor and Grand River Brewing. A special focus on California includes 30-plus breweries from the state. Not into ale? A number of ciders are available, too, as well as gluten-free beer options. Evergreen Brick Works, Friday 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 and up; see caskdays.com to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 Cirque du Soleil is back in Toronto, and this season the famed Montreal troupe presents a kaleidoscope of characters and objects in its latest travelling show, Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities. Under the big top, audiences are transported back to the 19th century to meet an inventor who’s able to defy time, space and even gravity—one spectacular scene even features an upside-down dinner party! Grand Chapiteau, 51 Commissioner St., Tuesday to Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 4:30 and 8 p.m., Sunday 1:30 and 5 p.m.; $50 to $160; visit cirquedusoleil.com to purchase tickets.

STARTS OCTOBER 29 Although the Toronto Raptors endured a heartbreaking end to their 2013-14 playoffs this past May, the Dinos have retained their core and begin a new season stronger than ever. Forward DeMar DeRozan, point guard Kyle Lowry and shooting guard Terrence Ross are among the returning stars who’ll take on the world’s best basketball players this fall. The Raptors start their new season at home against the Atlanta Hawks. Air Canada Centre, 7:30 p.m., $12.50 and up; call 416-366-3865 to charge.

ALSO THIS MONTH!

Cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei. Photo by Peter Holgerson, courtesy of World Press Photo.

The training regime of cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei, photographed by Peter Holgersson. Courtesy of World Press Photo.

TO OCTOBER 21 World Press Photo, the annual juried exhibition of award-winning photojournalism covering events and issues that impacted the world in 2013, is on display at Brookfield Place (181 Bay St.). Admission is free.

OCTOBER 3 The Blue Dot Tour with David Suzuki—promoting clean drinking water, fresh air and healthy food for all Canadians—comes to Massey Hall, with such special guests as Stephen Lewis, the Barenaked Ladies, Chantel Kreviazuk and Raine Maida. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 – $79.50. Visit bluedot.ca for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 4 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the annual all-night art affair, returns with more than 100 public installations, many of which invite visitors to be part of the works themselves. The free sunset-to-sunrise event expands into several new neighbourhoods, including Fort York, Chinatown and Bremner Boulevard, the latter of which hosts a magical night circus. Elsewhere, Máximo González’s installation, Walk Among Worlds, takes on political undertones by way of 7,000 beach balls to visualize first- and third-world states. Visit scotiabanknuitblanche.ca for a list of locations.

OCTOBER 5 TO 7 Part of the National Geographic Live series, award-winning photographer Steve Winter shares his experience travelling the globe in search of tigers, cougars and snow leopards. Tickets are $19.50 – $79.50. Roy Thomson Hall, October 5, 2 p.m.; October 6 and 7, 8 p.m. Visit roythomson.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 6 New York-based indie rockers We Are Scientists take the stage at The Horseshoe Tavern with guests Surfer Blood and Eternal Summers. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.50; visit horseshoetavern.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 7 TO 11 Award-winning actor, director and producer Ravi Jain and his mom Asha star in A Brimful of Asha, a family story about the search for the perfect bride. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill St., 416-203-6264.Tuesday to Saturday 9 p.m., Wednesday & Saturday 2 p.m.; $35-$55; visit soulpepper.ca or call 416-866-8666 to buy.

OCTOBER 8 Indie folk-rock chanteuse Cat Power brings her unique fusion sound to The Danforth Music Hall, 8 p.m. Tickets are $36; visit ticketmaster.ca or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 8 & 9 Pop singer-songwriter Jason Mraz plays at Massey Hall, with the show starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $55.50 – $75.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Russell Peters

Russell Peters is back bringing the laughs at the Air Canada Centre on October 9.

OCTOBER 9 Brampton, Ontario’s best-known export, Russell Peters, is back with all-new material in his latest headlining show, the Almost Famous World Tour. Hot on the heels of appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and Notorious on Netflix, Peters brings his trademark brand of wit and observation to what is sure to be a well-attended show—back in 2007, he was the first comedian to sell out the ACC. Air Canada Centre, 8 p.m. Tickets are $58.50 – $125.75; call 1-855-985-5000 or see russellpeters.com for information.

OCTOBER 10 Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Esperanza Spalding—who plays both upright bass and cello—brings her distinctive sound to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at Exhibition Place. Tickets are 49.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to charge.

OCTOBER 13 Aussie pop star Betty Who—made famous by a flash mob proposal video shot in a Home Depot that went viral—takes the stage at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club, with guests Joywave and Great Good Fine OK. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $19.50; visit livenation.com to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 14 A musical journey through the short-lived career of the legendary rock and roll pioneer, who died tragically in a plane crash, Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story features “That’ll be the Day,” “Peggy Sue” and “Everyday.” Various times. Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St., 416-314-2901. Tickets are $29 – $120; call 1-855-622-2787 or visit ticketmaster.ca to buy.

OCTOBER 15 Brit rock band Bastille makes a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre during their North American tour. Tickets are $34.50 – $42.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 16 TO 18 Bach and breakdancing may seem an unlikely combination—until you witness the Flying Steps, that is. The seven-member all-male dance troupe arrives in Toronto for one of two Canadian stops on its Red Bull Flying Bach world tour. Also featuring Swedish dancer Anna Holmström, this high-energy performance combines fast-footed jumps, head spins, jackhammers, hand hops and more choreographed to a live piano and harpsichord performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. Massey Hall, Thursday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., $25 – $70; call 416-872-4255 for tickets; see flying-steps.de for more information.

OCTOBER 18 Christine McVie rejoins her bandmates for a Fleetwood Mac North American tour, making a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. Tickets are $49.50 – $199.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 21 Bruce McCulloch, of Kids in the Hall fame, chronicles his life as a rebellious teenager in Alberta to her early days in Toronto to fatherhood in Young Drunk Punk. The show, presented by the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, combines stand-up, live music and anecdotes in the lead up to McCulloch’s new book Let’s Start a Riot: A Series of Bravery and Stupidity. General admission is $39; admission plus a copy of the book and a post-show reception is $55. Visit torontosketchfest.com or call 647-505-1050 to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 21 October is breast cancer awareness month, and Eat to the Beat provides a novel way to help. The 19th edition of this popular fundraiser for Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support has 60 of the country’s best female chefs preparing signature bites like duck breast on polenta cream, grilled cheese, brownies and pies. Local culinary favourites include Doona Dooher of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Trista Sheen of Crush Wine Bar and Bonnie Gordon of Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., $175 includes all food and beverages, 7 p.m.; call 416-778-6314 ext. 236 or see eattothebeat.ca for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 21 In the world premiere of The Bakelite Masterpiece, set in Holland following World War II, an artist accused of selling art to the Nazis must prove his innocence by painting a work by Johannes Vermeer in front of a prosecutor and art historian. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $48-$53; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 22 TO 26 The crafty and DIYers won’t want to miss the fall Creativ Festival, a massive consumer show bringing together sewing, quilting, beading, knitting, needlework, DIY decorating, crafting, scrapbooking and more. Workshops and seminars begin on October 22, while the Show Floor is open October 24 to 26, offering a chance to browse and buy a variety of goods, including fabrics, fibres, papers, beads, patterns, tools, books, kits and equipment. Show Floor hours are Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission for one day is $4 – $15, and a three-day pass is $25 ($5 for students with valid ID). Hands-on classes and seminars are an extra cost. Visit creativfestival.com for more information or to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 24 The ever-bold Irish singer Sinead O’Connor brings her incredible voice to Massey Hall. Tickets are $49.50 – $79.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Art Toronto

Art Toronto brings together contemporary art from around the world. Photo courtesy of Art Toronto.

OCTOBER 24 TO 27 The 15th annual Art Toronto, a modern and contemporary fine art fair, will feature more than 100 galleries from Canada and around the world. There will be a feature exhibition by Quebec-based collective BGL, as well as fair tours and expert talks. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W.; visit arttoronto.ca for ticket info and further details.

OCTOBER 25 Feist, Sarah Harmer, Jason Collett, Hayden, Lou Canon, Kevin Hearn and other musicians will come together for the first annual Dream Serenade Benefit Concert at Massey Hall in support of services for children with developmental disabilities. Tickets are $50 – $200; visit masseyhall.com or call 416-872-4255 to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 In the Henrik Ibsen drama An Enemy of the People, a doctor discovers that his town’s baths are contaminated and must decide if he should inform the public of the health risk or keep it to himself to prevent the local economy from collapsing. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $25-$48; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 27 Canadian synth-pop darling Lights brings her sparkling tunes to The Danforth Music Hall with special guest Rush Midnight. Tickets are $35; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

Cirque du Soleil in Edmonton: Amaluna Dazzles

With 19 different productions currently performing around the world, it’s likely you’ve heard of the much-hyped Cirque du Soleil shows.

Now’s your chance to see Cirque du Soleil in Edmonton — for the first time under the signature yellow-and-blue striped Grand Chapiteau Big Top Tent — with its production of Amaluna from May 29, 2013 – June 23, 2013.

WHERE Edmonton attended the premiere of Cirque du Soleil Edmonton on May 29, 2013 and had a fantastic time at the show — it’s well worth the price of admission. The upbeat music, stunning visual elements, and jaw-dropping, I-can’t-believe-they’re-doing-that stunts make Amanula a show that you have to see to truly believe — there’s an immersive, dazzling energy to the show that is simply felt and cannot be described. And, yes, the hype these shows get is well deserved!

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Whether you’ve seen multiple other Cirque shows or thinking Amaluna should be your first, here’s what you need to know:

(more…)

Weekend Roundup: September 7 to 9

Friday: Ben Affleck’s Argo is one of many premieres at TIFF (photo by Claire Folger)

Friday, September 7
Each September the city comes to life with celebrities, Hollywood buzz, and most importantly a wide selection of fantastic cinema to experience. The opening weekend of the 37th annual Toronto International Film Festival showcases world premieres of major Hollywood films and foreign features, complex documentaries, short and experimental films, and so much more.

Don’t miss out on a shopping bonanza as Toronto celebrates Fashion’s Night Out with The Bazaar. Curated by Rac Boutique, the event brings together a wide variety of independent Toronto retailers including Gotstyle, the Drake Hotel General Store, Philistine and many others.

The Second City‘s new mainstage revue, We’ve Totally (Probably) Got This, is guaranteed to tickle that funny bone. Spend your Friday night with friends and this company of hilarious performers who have mastered the art of satirical sketches, songs and improvisations. (more…)

Hot Date: Follow the Moon to Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna

SEPTEMBER 6 TO OCTOBER 21 Escape to a mysterious island governed by goddesses and guided by mother moon in Amaluna, the latest spectacle by Cirque du Soleil.
A coming-of-age quest is at the centre of this alluring production, as a princess and her suitor bear witness to feats of imagination and derring do by tightrope walkers, unicyclists, aerialists, jugglers and more. The action plays out amidst fantastical sets with elaborately costumed performers using their skills to tell a story of faith, love and harmony. The Grand Chapiteau at the Port Lands, $43.50 to $158.50; call 1-800-450-1480 or visit here for showtimes and to buy.

Hot Art: Guy Laliberté Depicts Earth from Above

Guy Laliberté’s photograph Algérie, au sud de Alger, Sidi Bakhti

AUGUST 2 TO SEPTEMBER 3  See the world from a new perspective this month as Thompson Landry Gallery presents photographs of the earth from far, far above. In September 2009, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté became Canada’s first private space tourist, spending 11 days in the International Space Station. The result of his trip is an indoor-outdoor exhibition, titled Gaia, featuring 90 arresting images of natural and man-made landscapes shot from orbit. Through Laliberté’s wide-angle viewpoint it’s easy to see how climate change has affected the environment, and to envision in particular how the decline in water resources will impact us in the future.

May Hot Dates in Halifax

Cirque du Soleil's Dralion

May 6: Cirque du Soleil returns to Halifax with Dralion, a spectacular showcase of “Eastern and Western acrobatic prowess.” High-trained performers from around the world put on a stunning display of athleticism, magic and whimsy, as the Metro Centre on Duke Street hosts an eight-show run. The production is limited to an eight-show run in Halifax. Halifax Metro Centre, 5284 Duke St. 451-1221.  www.ticketatlantic.com

May 3: The 2.5-kilometre, 11-turn road circuit at Atlantic Motorsport Park opens for another season of racing action. Events: May 3, 6, 10 to 13, 18 to 21, 26, 27, 29, 31. Exit 10 off Highway 102, Creighton Road, Shubenacadie. 758-2237.  www.atlanticmotorsportpark.com

May 5: A showcase for the artistry and versatility of Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada, Ghosts of Violence is an emotionally charged work inspired by women who have lost their lives at the hands of an intimate partner. Through evocative lighting, theatre, music and multi-media, the ballet captures the memory of these silent victims. One show only at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue. Due to its mature subject matter, this show isn’t recommended for people under age 14. Dalhousie Arts Centre, 6101 University Ave. 494-2403.  atlanticballet.ca

May 11: In its final show of the season, the Dartmouth Community Concert Association features fiddler/violinist David Greenberg and multi-instrumentalist Chris Norman. They’ll perform renaissance, baroque, traditional and original music at Woodlawn United Church. 54 Woodlawn Rd., Dartmouth. www.dartmouthcommunityconcert.ca

May 12: The pop-country star Juice Newton (“Queen of Hearts,” “Angel of the Morning”) plays an intimate concert at Casino Nova Scotia. Must be 19 or older with government-issued photo ID. 1983 Upper Water St. 423-0143.  www.casinonovascotia.com

May 16: The world’s first, and probably only, Scottish-Canadian country-music star Johnny Reid returns to the East Coast. Halifax Metro Centre, 5284 Duke St. 451-1221. www.ticketatlantic.com

May 19: An Evening with Pierrot features two pianists, a mime (Olga Primajk), a reader (Larry Bent) and soprano Allison Bent Angelo at the Maritime Conservatory of Music. 6199 Chebucto Rd. 492-4523.  www.stcecilia.ca

Editor’s Choice: May 18 to 20: This weekend is jammed with Blue Nose Marathon events, including a youth run and 5K and 10K competitions. The full marathon kicks off at the Old Town Clock at 8am on May 20, wending its way through the city past Halifax Citadel and along the shores of Point Pleasant Park, crisscrossing the harbour on the Macdonald Bridge and ending back at the Clock on Sackville Street. Find a detailed route map at www.bluenosemarathon.com.

May 20: The province’s most popular motor-sports venue, Scotia Speedworld, returns with races in the Pro Stock and Legends tours. Events: May 20, 27. Exit 6 off Highway 102, Enfield. www.scotiaspeedworld.ca

May 27: It’s the final day for La Cage aux Folles at Neptune Theatre, a hilarious and touching musical. 1593 Argyle St. 429-7070 or 1-800-565-7345. www.neptunetheatre.com

May 28: The Scotia Festival of Music kicks off with a performance by violinist Giora Schmidt, cellist Joshua Roman and pianist John Novacek. 429-9467.  www.scotiafestival.ns.ca

Hot Date: Hail to the King (of Pop)

A storyboard of Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour

OCTOBER 21 TO 23 Experience the incredible music-and-choreography combination of Michael Jackson and Cirque du Soleil, as the renowned company presents Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour. In this vivid tribute, a cast of 60 acrobats, tumblers, jugglers and more bring the King of Pop’s musical world back to life, recalling his charismatic stage presence, exciting dance moves, unforgettable songs that could include “Thriller” and “Beat It,” as well as his message of peace, love and unity. Air Canada Centre, Friday and Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 4 p.m., $50 to $250; call 416-870-8000 or visit here to purchase tickets.

Weekend Roundup, August 12 to 14

Friday: Cirque du Soleil offers high-flying spectacle (photo by Daniel Auclair)

Friday, August 12
Come one, come all to the Grand Chapiteau for the opening weekend of Cirque du Soleil’s Totem. Behold a cast of colorfully costumed characters whose feats of strength and grace are sure to amaze!

Experience an entire weekend of Pan-Asian culture as Harbourfront Centre’s Fortune Cooking Food Festival begins tonight. Among many activities, visitors can watch an Iron Chef competition, sample a variety of Asian cuisine and partake in cooking demonstrations.

Revel in the golden voice of theatre star Colm Wilkinson, who takes the Four Seasons Centre stage tonight and Saturday. Wilkinson’s performance includes a mix of famous Broadway hits from plays such as The Phantom of the Opera, as well as Irish ballads and contemporary pop favourites.

Saturday: Britney's back! (photo by chicagofabulousblog.com)

Saturday, August 13
Head to the Air Canada Centre to witness the return of Britney Spears, who brings her Femme Fatale tour to Toronto. The pop star is accompanied by an all-female line-up of special guests, including hip hop diva Nicki Minaj, Jessie and the Toy Boys, and Nevo.

Yonge-Dundas Square hosts this year’s India Day celebration. The festivities kick off with a parade down Yonge Street featuring floats that highlight India’s cultural diversity.

Support green farming initiatives at the first annual Conscious Food Festival at Fort York. The festival promotes local and natural foods and includes live music, vendors and seminars on food values.

Sunday: The Third Floor is just one of many SummerWorks plays showing today (photo by Wojtek Arciszewski)

Sunday, August 14
Don’t miss the final day of SummerWorks Theatre Festival, an event dedicated to showcasing new Canadian plays to theatr- going audiences. Even today there are numerous plays to see!

Join party-girl popster Ke$ha, whose Get $leazy tour rolls into the Molson Canadian Ampitheatre, with guests LMFAO and Spank Rock.

Brace yourself for Ron Sparks’ Celebrity Roast of Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?) at the Drake Hotel. A night full of comedic insults and attacks by enlisted “roasters” is sure to ensue during this comedy hour.

Life Under the Big Top with Cirque du Soleil

A hoops dancer enthralls in Cirque du Soleil's Totem (photo by Daniel Desmarias)

AUGUST 11 TO OCTOBER 9 Never known to shy away from a challenge, Cirque du Soleil makes magic out of a most ambitious subject, the evolution of life on earth, in its latest touring production. This month, Totem comes alive under the Grand Chapiteau with more than 50 cast members from around the world. Colourfully adorned hoop dancers, unicyclists, acrobats and more take the stage in this magically evocative display.

Unfolding like an epic creation myth, Totem begins with prehistory, envisioning the original amphibian state from which many animals grew, and progresses through a variety of acrobatic feats to ultimately reflect the evolution of human aspiration. Much of the action takes place on a stylized turtle shell representing Mother Earth, a common theme of many origin stories. Other memorable characters include a grey-haired clown reminiscent of Charles Darwin, as well as the Crystal Man—signifying the “life force”—who drops from the sky in a ball of energy, his costume glittering with tiny mirrors and crystals.

Totem is the second collaboration between Cirque du Soleil and master theatre director Robert Lepage. Its April 2010 world premiere thrilled audiences in Montreal, and since then it has played in Quebec City, Amsterdam and London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall. No doubt the production will have Toronto audiences clamouring for more—a desire that can be fulfilled when the troupe returns in October to present a show based on the music of Michael Jackson. The Grand Chapiteau at the Port Lands, Tuesday to Thursday 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4 and 8 p.m., Sunday 1 and 5 p.m., adults $73.50 to $248.50, children (aged 2 to 12) $54 to $208; call 1-800-450-1480 or visit here to purchase tickets.

17 Things We Love About Ottawa in May and June

1) "i think i can" plays at the NAC.

1) National Arts Centre performances like the tap/hip-hop show i think i can

2) The colourful costumes and dancing at Carivibe

3) Access to an abundance of farmers’ markets come spring

4) Bon Appetit, a top-notch food and wine show that benefits local charities

5) The Trial of Louis Riel, a historical re-enactment play

6) Hosting fantastical shows like Cirque du Soleil: Quidam

7) Rideau Valley Roller Girls play May 28 and June 25. Photo credit: Helen Kriemadis.

7) The rock’em, sock’em attitude of the Rideau Valley Roller Girls

8) Being at the epicentre of Canadian politics

9) Enjoying art outdoors at The New Art Festival

10) Lobster poutine, on the menu at the GNAG Lobster Kitchen Party

11) The oh-so-good International Chicken-Rib Cook-Off

12) Festival season. Enough said. (more…)

Weekend Roundup, October 8 to 10

Toronto’s fun doesn’t stop just because the temperature drops outdoors! There are plenty of new exhibits, shows and performances which will guarantee a good time for everyone this weekend!

Friday: Be wowed by iD (photo by Valérie Remise/Theatre T & Cie)

Friday, October 8th
Catch the entertaining, adults-only puppet show, Billy Twinkle: Requiem for a Golden Boy at the Factory Theatre! When puppeteer Billy Twinkle gets fired from his job on a cruise ship, he must perform his life story as a puppet show to rediscover his love for the craft. It’s a must-see performance that has been garnering rave reviews!

Cirque Éloize has created another masterpiece! Now showing at the Sony Centre For the Performing Arts, iD is filled with jaw-dropping acts  that combine theatre, dance, music, and circus arts. With lots of energy and risky stunts, this innovative show brings plenty of visual effects to make for an unforgettable evening.

Trick or treat! Although Halloween is a few weeks away, visitors to Canada’s Wonderland should prepare to scream as this famous amusement park is once again transformed into the largest haunted attraction in the country. The annual Halloween Haunt offers tons of spooky attractions like haunted mazes and the Psycho Circus. Plus, experience all your favourite rides in complete darkness!

Saturday: Hear classics performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Saturday, October 9th
Enjoy a night of legendary music as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs George Gershwin’s legendary Rhapsody in Blue. This all-American concert will also feature Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Leonard Bernstein’s overture to Candide. Head to Roy Thomson Hall for this powerful performance!

Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida has returned to the Canadian Opera Company stage! This tragic opera tells the forbidden love story between an Ethiopian slave girl and an Egyptian king in a time of war. It’s a stirring show, on now at the Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts.

The Fryderyk Chopin and Romantic Piano exhibit opens today at the Royal Ontario Museum. Showcasing numerous instruments, costumes and original scores from the Romantic Era, the show celebrates the bicentennial of this amazing composer’s birth.

Sunday: See mythical beasts at the Ontario Science Centre

Sunday, October 10th
Are you fan of all things fantasy? Head to the Ontario Science Centre to see their newest exhibit Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids. On display is an unbelievable range of sculptures, fossils, creatures and characters that have played a large role in popular myths and fables. You (literally) can’t miss the 40-metre long Chinese dragon that stretches along this exhibit!

The Arts at the Heart market takes over the busy Yonge-Dundas Square this weekend as hundreds of vendors display their handmade wares for sale. Find unique and colourful apparel, fashionable jewelery, belts, accessories and so much more.

It’s your last chance to check out Cirque du Soleil’s Banana Shpeel! This unique production brings together incredible circus acts, colourful costumes, vibrant dance routines, and a hilarious story. The final performance is tonight at the Canon Theatre.

Weekend Roundup, September 17 to 19

Though fall is approaching, the fun doesn’t stop! Toronto still hosts plenty of events both indoors and out to ensure a memorable weekend!

Be amused and amazed by Banana Shpeel this weekend.

Friday, September 17
Step into the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the just-opened exhibition Shary Boyle: Flesh and Blood. Almost 30 of the award-winning artist’s playful yet unsettling works are on display.

Get an artist’s perspective on one of the worst environmental disasters of our time—Nicholas Metivier Gallery presents Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky’s latest series of images, this time of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Also on display are Polaroid photos taken by Burtynsky in the ship-breaking yards of Bangladesh.

Immerse yourself in South American culture at Harbourfront Centre as the Vibrant Colombia Dispora Festival kicks off a weekend of family fun. Activities tonight include exhibitions of Colombian art plus performances by marimba player Louis Bianco and the Ballet Raices de Colombia.

Saturday, September 18
Prog rock fans, take note: Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters takes to the Air Canada Centre stage tonight to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his band’s classic album, The Wall.

An even heavier rock experience awaits at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, thanks to ’90s grunge band Alice in Chains. The Grammy-nominated trio is sure to riff on its back catalogue and perform tracks from their latest album, Black Gives Way to Blue.

Step back in time at Black Creek Pioneer Village’s annual Pioneer Festival. This historic site celebrates the autumn harvest numerous old-timey events and activities, including horse-drawn wagon rides, cider-making demonstrations, a spelling bee, a popular quilt auction and international music and dance performances.

Sunday, September 19
Prepare to laugh, smile and gasp with Cirque du Soleil’s Banana Shpeel at the Canon Theatre! At this unique spectacle, death-defying acrobatic acts are paired with vaudeville-style slapstick comedy from quirky characters.

Help some talented local musicians bring the Summer Music in the Garden series of classical concerts to a close. Beneath the boughs of the Toronto Music Garden, Shauna and Friends perform a variety of chamber music compositions for strings.

Take in the ever-popular Queen West Art Crawl, featuring numerous local galleries and artists—more than 500 of whom will be displaying their colourful works at Trinity Bellwoods Park.