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four seasons centre for the performing arts

Hot Date: The Golden Voice of Colm Wilkinson

photo by David Leyes

AUGUST 12 & 13 He’s made a career of captivating audiences on Broadway and in London’s West End. Now acclaimed singer and theatre actor Colm Wilkinson steps charismatically back on to the Toronto stage for two nights only. The Irish-born star—who has made his home in this city since 1989, when he began a five-year stint in The Phantom of the Opera—is set to showcase his much-praised pipes with a mix of show tunes, pop songs and timeless ballads, including “The Music of the Night” and “Danny Boy.” Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m., $52 to $215; call 416-644-3665 or visit here to buy.

Hot Date: What is Next to Normal?

photo by Joan Marcus

JULY 19 TO 31 A bold and harrowing story of psychiatric ethics and suburban life, Next to Normal is not your average Broadway musical. Brought to Toronto by Dancap Productions, this dramatic rock musical—winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, along with three 2009 Tony Awards—tells of a family struggling to care for one another while battling mental illness. Alice Ripley reprises her acclaimed lead role as a mother whose worsening bipolar disorder sends her into a tailspin. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $34 to $129; call 416-644-3665 or visit here to buy.

Hot Date: Donny & Marie Pair Up

photo by Erik Kabik

JULY 5 TO 17 Direct from Las Vegas, famed sibling entertainers Donny and Marie Osmond offer up an exclusive engagement of their theatrical concert showcase. In Donny & Marie Live (page 48), the pair perform their greatest hits like “Paper Roses,” “Puppy Love” and “One Bad Apple” in a multimedia spectacle featuring show-stopping production numbers, a rock band and sizzling backup dancers. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., no show July 11, $52 to $240; call 416-644-3665 or visit here to purchase.

Hot Date: Alice Dances Down the Rabbit Hole

Photo by Johan Persson, courtesy of the Royal Opera House

JUNE 4 TO 12, 23 TO 25 The peculiar imagination of Lewis Carroll is brought to life with music and movement in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a new dance work co-produced by the National Ballet of Canada and Britain’s Royal Ballet. Presented as part of Luminato, this North American premiere was choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, who is known for his unique synthesis of neo-classical and modern dance interpretation. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $21.50 to $201; call 416-345-9595 or click here for a schedule and to purchase tickets.

Weekend Roundup, May 20th to 22nd

Friday: Gluck's Orfeo is enthralling (photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Friday, May 20
Follow the critics’ raves to the Four Seasons Centre, where the Canadian Opera Company stages the heart-wrenching Orfeo ed Euridice. Compsed by Christoph Willibald Gluck, this opera tells of Orfeo who, after losing his beloved Euridice, literally goes to hell and back to find her.

Take a scenic drive west of Toronto to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, where two new plays begin previews. Shakespeare’s classic Richard III tells the dark story of a man trying to seize the English throne by dispatching all those who stand in his way. For something a little lighter, the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Jesus Christ Superstar brings the story of Judas Iscariot to life through rock opera.

Running to May 29, Inside Out, the 21st annual Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival, screens throughout the city. Tonight at 9:30 p.m. (at the TIFF Bell Lightbox), catch Bloomington, a story about a television actress who begins to question her sexuality while trying to lead a normal life as a freshman at Bloomington University.

Saturday: See Aussie troupe Circa among many other acts at Harbourfront Centre (photo by Leif Norman)

Saturday, May 21
Celebrate the weekend at Harbourfront Centre, which hosts the Toronto International Circus Festival, a three-day event beginning today and featuring extraordinary circus artists from the around the world. Catch eye-popping acrobats, gravity-defying rope walkers, fire-eaters, clowns and much more.

What’s black and white and coming back to the Toronto Zoo? Endangered African Penguins! The zoo’s new 6,000-square-foot penguin exhibit opens today with a state-of-the-art underwater viewing area so you can come face to face with the penguins.

Also starting today, the Alice in Wonderland experience takes over Black Creek Pioneer Village with events like a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, a “Through the Looking Glass” Maze and the Queen of Hearts’ Field of Games. Families can also enjoy all that the historic village has to offer, including farm animals, Victorian dancing lessons, and the interactive history centre.

Sunday: See cosmopolitan indie artist Lykke Li at the Phoenix (photo by SpoiltCat)

Sunday, May 22
The unique sounds of alternative rock-pop artist Lykke Li pervade the Phoenix Concert Theatre on tonight. Influenced by her nomadic past—having lived in Portugal, Sweden, India and New York City—Li’s quirky use of harpsichords, flutes and Theremins makes her music all the more mesmerizing.

The Kids’ World Energy Festival wraps up today at the Evergreen Brick Works, with family-friendly activities focusing on renewable energy, climate change and the science of energy. Together, parents and kids can learn what they can do to contribute to a sustainable future.

Celebrate the long Victoria Day weekend by catching some fireworks. Weather permitting, Canada’s Wonderland offers a show starting at 10 p.m., or make your way to Ashbridge’s Bay on Monday at 9:45 p.m. for a dazzling display of lights over Lake Ontario.

Hot Date: The Trials of Orpheus

Photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago

MAY 8 TO 28 The Canadian Opera Company welcomes back Toronto-born director Robert Carsen, who brings his acclaimed production of Orfeo ed Euridice to this city. The popular work by Christoph Willibald Gluck follows mythic Orfeo, who travels to hell and back in search of his beloved Euridice. Renowned American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo and Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian perform the lead roles of this star-crossed story of loss and redemption. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $62 to $281; call 416-363-8231 or visit here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Date: Cinderella with a Twist

Photo by Brett Coomer

APRIL 23 TO MAY 25 Young and old are sure
to be enchanted by a musical take on the classic Cinderella story—with a comedic twist—as
the Canadian Opera Company stages La Cenerentola. Gioacchino Rossini’s Italian opera buffa tells of beautiful Angelina, who lives as a slave to the pompous Don Magnifico and his two daughters until an act of generosity changes her fate. Designed by the innovative Spanish theatre troupe Els Comediants, and featuring renowned tenor Lawrence Brownlee and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong, this vibrant and ever-entertaining production inspires love and laughter among the entire audience. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $12 to $281; call 416-363-8231 or click here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Date: Duo of Dances

Sonia Rodriguez in Don Quixote (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)

MARCH 9 TO 13, 17 TO 20 The National Ballet of Canada brings to life two classic stories with full-length interpretations of Cervantes and Pushkin. The company’s first effort, Don Quixote, adds lusty and lavish choreography to the tale of a Spanish outcast’s pursuit of a fair maiden. The following week, John Cranko’s long-hailed adaptation of Onegin offers a gorgeous examination of passion, honour and regret. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $21.50 to $201; call 416-345-9595 or visit here for showtimes and tickets.

Weekend Roundup, February 25th to 27th

Friday: Ladysmith Black Mombazo enlivens Roy Thomson Hall

Friday, February 25
Gather at Roy Thomson Hall tonight to have your spirits lifted by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The South African a capella group—known for its stirring harmonies—is slated to perform songs from its latest album, Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu.

Join Anne Sofie Von Otter and Brad Mehldau at Koerner Hall as they perform selections from their recent effort, Love Songs. The immensely talented Swedish mezzo-soprano and American jazz pianist are adept at playing everything from Brahms to the Beatles.

This evening offers a final opportunity to hear the melodies of The Magic Flute, as performed by the Canadian Opera Company at the Four Seasons Centre. Toronto-based soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian is among the talented cast of this beautiful Mozart opera.

Saturday: Bloor-Yorkville's IceFest offers all manner of frosty sculptures

Saturday, February 26
Bloor-Yorkville’s annual Icefest runs all weekend long at the Village of Yorkville Park. Today, visitors can view a “Circus Extravaganza” with ice sculptures of elephants, lion tamers, fortune tellers, and more. The big top atmosphere also offers magic tricks, acrobatics and yummy cotton candy, too.

Follow a young girl’s battle for liberty as Brothel #9 opens tonight at Factory Theatre. Telling the story of a girl who struggles for freedom after being sold to a brothel in Calcutta, the play is a true testament to the endurance of the human spirit.

Drama lovers will also find interest in the final day of Nightwood Theatre’s Groundswell Festival, which presents new works by female playwrights. The Happy Woman closes the festival, and features a panel discussion following its performance.

Sunday: See Sacred Moon (detail pictured) and other works by El Anatsui at the Royal Ontario Museum

Sunday, February 27
Today offers the final opportunity to view the Royal Ontario Museum’s acclaimed exhibition, When I Last Wrote You About Africa, by El Anatsui. The Ghanaian artist transforms overlooked and discarded objects into monumental sculptures that reflect global, local, and his own personal history.

In celebration of the Juno Awards’ 40th anniversary, Lula Lounge hosts a performance by the Juno Jazz All-Stars tonight. Eight Juno-winning artists—including Guido Basso, Don Thompson and Dave Young—take the stage at this sure-to-be-smoking show.

Looking for a fun way spend Oscar night? Walk the red carpet to the Drake Hotel’s own Oscar Party. The evening of entertainment features popcorn, drinks, a cinematic trivia contest with great door prizes, and, of course, a viewing of the Academy Awards.

Weekend Roundup, January 28th to 30th

Friday: Witness Christopher Plummer's tour de force in Barrymore

Friday, January 28th
Don’t miss Canadian icon Christopher Plummer in Barrymore, which celebrates its opening weekend at the Elgin Theatre. In this acclaimed one-man play, Plummer embodies the role of John Barrymore, one of the 20th century’s greatest Shakespearean actors.

Winterlicious starts today! Approximately 150 restaurants—including local favourites like Bier Markt, Bangkok Garden and the newly renovated Canoe—are participating in this popular prix-fixe dining event. It’s a great and affordable way to try some of the tasty food Toronto has on offer. (more…)

Hot Dates: Magic Flute Conjures Melodies

Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian stars in the COC's Magic Flute (photo by Michael Agyan)

JANUARY 29 TO FEBRUARY 25 Fall in love all over again with the majestic music and timeless sorcery-tinged tale of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. A brand-new production by the Canadian Opera Company starring Michael Schade and Isabel Bayrakdarian as would-be lovers Tamino and Pamina, this playfully mystical exploration of wisdom, nature and devotion is sure to delight both seasoned opera fans and newcomers to the genre. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $22 to $281; call 416-363-8231 or click here for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

You Are Here: Queen Street West

The downtown segment of what is arguably Toronto’s coolest street becomes an even cooler destination as winter arrives.
View You Are Here: Queen Street West in a larger map

Kids can learn about animation in the NFB's winter wonderland workshop

HOLIDAY MOVIEHOUSE Edging into the Entertainment District you’ll find the National Film Board’s Toronto Mediatheque, an education centre and library of Canadian flicks that can be watched for free at one of many digital viewing stations. Like what you see? Sign up for a Winter Wonderland workshop, where kids (ages 6 to 13) can create animated films of their own.

DESIGN DEN Just north of Queen West is the distinctive facade of the Umbra Concept Store, the design company’s only standalone location in the world. Not only does this retail space feature the firm’s entire line of modern, affordable home products, it also showcases designers at work. For the holidays, nearly 100 brand-new items are on offer—perfect for stocking stuffers.

Chef David Lee oversees the action at Nota Bene (photo by Nikki Leigh McKean)

BOUNTIFUL BITE Nota Bene stands out on a section of Queen Street otherwise stocked with bars and Indian buffets. The stylish yet casual restaurant provides the perfect atmosphere for both intimate dinners and larger, more boisterous celebrations. For a winter warm-up, be sure to try chef David Lee’s Yucatan hot and sour soup, or pasta with hearty rabbit ragu.

MUSICAL GEM Home to some of the city’s top operatic and dance productions—including the National Ballet’s The Nutcracker, opening December 11—the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is a local landmark. From street level it strikes a staid stance, but inside it’s a marvel of design. Take a docent-led tour on most Saturdays to learn more about the building’s architecture and incredible acoustics.

Marvel at The Bay's detailed holiday window displays

WINDOW SHOPPING Massive department store The Bay has eight floors of fashion, furniture, fragrances and more—something for everyone on your holiday gift list. As Canada’s oldest corporation, this store is an iconic part of our national history. The flagship location continues a Toronto tradition, too: each year its Queen Street frontage features intricate window displays with seasonal scenes.

GATHERING PLACE City Hall’s two curving towers overlook Nathan Phillips Square, an outdoor hub for concerts and cultural events. The multipurpose site offers something to look forward to when temperatures drop, as its reflecting pool turns into a public skating rink. Even in winter the square is bustling—the annual Citytv New Year’s Eve bash is just one can’t-miss activity.