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Next Stage Theatre Festival

The Next Stage Theatre Festival Brings Fringe Hits Back to Toronto

Next Stage Theatre Festival 2013

Throne of Games spoofs George R.R. Martin’s popular “Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy books at the Next Stage Theatre Festival

JANUARY 2 TO 13  Some of Canada’s best independent theatre artists come together for a dozen days of dramatic and comedic revelry at the Next Stage Theatre Festival. Among the event’s 10 must-see original productions are Bad Dog Theatre Company’s Throne of Games, an unscripted take on George R.R. Martin’s bestselling fantasy series that’s sure to inspire big laughs, while the thought-provoking 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival hit Awake examines the effect violence can have on a community. Factory Theatre, $10 to $88; call 416-966-1062 or visit here for a full schedule and tickets.  —Eva Voinigescu

Weekend Roundup: January 6-8

Friday: Demar DeRozan looks to lead the Raptors to a third straight victory

Friday, January 6
The NBA lockout finally concluded on Christmas day, the shortened basketball season is starting to pick up and our hometown Raptors are on a two-game winning streak. Cheer them on tonight as they take on the New Jersey Nets (including former “Mr. Kardishian” Kris Humphries) at the Air Canada Centre.

The Next Stage Theatre Festival is back for another year at Factory Theatre. The festival’s first weekend features top independent stage shows including The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A-Go-Go! and Living with Henry.

Drama meets punk rock as Broadway smash American Idiot continues its short-term run at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Featuring tunes such as “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from Green Day’s Grammy-winning album, this contemporary musical is not to be missed.

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Staff Picks: Our Next Stage Theatre Festival 2012 Primer

Tomasso's Party is but one of the lauded independent productions at this year's Next Stage Theatre Festival

Now celebrating its fifth anniversary, the Next Stage Theatre Festival rounds up the best that the North American fringe circuit has to offer—all at one venue, the venerable Factory Theatre. New this year is the Ante-Chamber Stage, a forum for debuting short works and showcasing old favourites. Take in the finest edgy, indie productions, and even enjoy a fine brew at the heated McAuslan beer tent. Performances take place from January 4 to 15. Click here for further details and showtimes.

Hypnogogic Logic
Four-man comedy troupe Uncalled For returns to the stage with its award-winning Hypnogogic Logic, which explores the wide, wild world of dreams. Sporting life jackets to better navigate the rapids of the unconscious, the performers encounter Freddie Mercury, wordy street preachers and other absurd figments of their collective imagination, all while offering their signature wit, clever writing and the unpredictable hilarity of sketch comedy.

Living with Henry
Part of 2011’s “Best of Fringe,” Living with Henry is the story of Michael—recently diagnosed with HIV and envisioning the illness as a jealous man who haunts him throughout his relationships. Sometimes comic, always thought provoking, this musical drama reframes AIDS as a chronic disease rather than a death sentence, without diminishing its personal, physical and societal complications.

Love is a Poverty You Can Sell
Soup Can Theatre presents this decadent cabaret-style creation featuring show-stopping numbers from Sweeney Todd and Threepenny Opera. Hosted by two emcees, the production is a tribute to the works of legendary composer Kurt Weill and channels 1920’s Berlin in a night that’s brought critics to their feet since its 2009 opening.

LoveSexMoney
Inspired by a true story, LoveSexMoney takes a look at intimacy—or the lack thereof—in the digital age. A young woman sells her virginity online, and is poised to consummate when her scorned ex-boyfriend arrives on the scene. Hilarity ensues. This naughty production by Theatre Brouhaha openly exposes the world of Japanese erotic toys, custom-made dolls and love thwarted by the Internet.

Loving the Stranger or How to Recognize an Invert
Ecce Homo Theatre is known for its genre-bending socio-political commentary; this production is exemplary of the company’s ethos. A co-production with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and the SummerWorks Theatre Festival, Loving the Stranger describes— through Brechtian cabaret, political theatre and camp—the life of a man who is arrested for homosexuality by the Nazi regime.

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Hot Date: Indies on the “Next” Stage

Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party

JANUARY 4 TO 15 Top independent playwrights, directors and performers step into the spotlight at the Next Stage Theatre Festival. Celebrating its fifth season, the event features a lineup ranging from something-for-everyone spectacles to intimately focused relationship stories. Anticipated shows include The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A Go-Go!—a hyper-enthusiastic parody of 1960’s beach party movies—and Tomasso’s Party, a close-up look at a young couple that explores what it means to be in a relationship. Plus, comedy troupe Uncalled For presents its energetic trip through the subconscious in Hypnogogic Logic. Factory Theatre, $10 to $15; for showtimes and tickets, call 416-966-1062 or visit here.

And don’t forget to check back tomorrow for a full rundown of festival productions!

Weekend Roundup, January 7 to 9

Friday: Witness the Duel of Ages at the Next Stage Theatre Festival

The weekend immediately following the revelry of New Year’s is a quiet one for many people. But if you’re still itching to get out, Toronto’s got you covered.

Friday, January 7th
Start your weekend with some drama courtesy of the annual Next Stage Theatre Festival. Tonight’s programming includes a history of personal combat in Duel of Ages and the intriguing whodunit Fairytale Ending.

Treat the family to a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Among its numerous current exhibitions is a collection of four shows united under the title Animal Tales: Beasts, Toys and Fables. These displays feature bright and dynamic images celebrating the magic of visual storytelling, and particularly emphasize the fables of Aesop and the illustrations of Walter Trier.

The Second City has extended performances of its latest hit, Something Wicked Awesome This Way Comes. Act fast to get tickets—you don’t want to miss out on discovering just how awesomely wicked this show really is.

Saturday: Take a spin on the Natrel Rink

Saturday, January 8th
It’s not to early to think about summer—and, particularly, how you’ll spend time on the water. So make your way to the Direct Energy Centre, which hosts the Toronto International Boat Show. Among the expo’s highlights are the world’s largest indoor lake, which features wakeboarding and boat-handling demonstrations.

Step back in time a couple of decades at the Horseshoe Tavern, which celebrates Canadian music of the 1980s as part of the Juno Decades 40th Anniversary Concert Series. Featured artists include Maestro Fresh Wes and Platinum Blonde.

Take a spin around Harbourfront Centre’s Natrel Rink tonight while DJ Medicineman drops a hot mix of global grooves and electro hits. The pulsing music is sure to take the edge off of winter’s chill.

Sunday: See the Ontario Science Centre's mythic beasties for a final time

Sunday, January 9th
Just west of the city, Mississauga’s International Centre hosts the North American International Motorcycle Supershow, featuring more than 500 exhibitors and 1,000 motorcycles. These bikes will excite as you ride on over for seminars, a showbike competition and more.

Whether on foot, by car, or on the back of a beast, be certain to travel to the Ontario Science Centre. Its Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids exhibition, which explore the mystical world of the mythical creatures, concludes today.

Welcome the Toronto Raptors as they return from the road. Today the National Basketball Association squad—featuring rising stars like Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan—take on the Sacramento Kings.

Hot Date: See the Next Stage

Duel of Ages

JANUARY 5 TO 16 Drama, dance, song and a bevy of great storylines comprise the Next Stage Theatre Festival, an annual platform for independent productions. Among the eight intriguing shows certain to capture your imagination this year is Duel of Ages, where about 20 performers and some of Toronto’s most talented fight choreographers create an action-packed exploration of the history of personal combat. Or for lighter theatrical fare, seek out the festival’s first ever family-oriented offering, Fairy Tale Ending, a detective story in which a young girl confronts characters from her favourite fables to discover why the tales end in tragedy. Factory Theatre, $12 to $15; call 416-966-1062 or click here for showtimes
and tickets.

January Editor’s Picks: Entertainment

Salute to ViennaJANUARY 1 Welcome the new year with a waltz! Classical music aficionados and newcomers alike will adore Salute to Vienna, a re-creation of the Vienna Philharmonic’s famed New Year’s Concert combining dance, singing and orchestral music. The evening features music by Austrian composer Johann Strauss II, with performances of his polkas, marches, waltzes and operatic arias bythe Strauss Symphony of Canada, Kiev-Aniko Ballet of Ukraine, and a group of over 75 stellar musicians and ballroom dancers. Get ready to celebrate Viennese-style with audiences across North America—the show will be presented simultaneously in 20 other cities, from Vancouver and Montreal to Los Angeles and New York. Roy Thomson Hall, 2:30 p.m., $55 to $135; call 416-323-1403 or navigate here for tickets.

Icarus Redux

Icarus Redux

JANUARY 6 TO 17 For those of us who are still craving some drama after another holiday season, the Next Stage Theatre Festival promises to satisfy. Now in its third year, the festival showcases exciting works by emerging playwrights. Among the intriguing tales are two different takes on fatherhood: the provocative Icarus Redux is a retelling of the tragic Greek myth of the lost son; while Like Father, Like Son? Sorry tenders a hilarious look at the travails faced by a new father who must deal with dead pets, dating tips and the truth about Santa Claus. Factory Theatre, $12 to $15; call 416-966-1062 or click here for more details and a full lineup.

Interior Design ShowJANUARY 23 & 24 Enticing decor options spark the imagination at the Interior Design Show, Canada’s largest contemporary design event. Focusing on new trends in architecture, interiors and industrial design, the show includes such feature exhibits as The Ultimate—where established design teams are challenged to present their definition of the ultimate living space—and Off the Wall & Off the Loom, which promotes fresh ideas for decorating walls. Visitors can also browse more than 300 vendors offering innovative international and Canadian products, from furniture and textiles to glassware and lighting. There’s so much here, you’re bound to leave with a stylish little something, or maybe even inspiration for furnishing your entire home. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, $17 to $20; call 416-599-3222 or visit this link for details.