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Royal Alexandra Theatre

15 Things To Do in Toronto This December

This festive month is filled with a mixture of holiday merriment and family-friendly activities.

New Year’s Eve at Nathan Phillips Square. Photo courtesy of the City of Toronto.

12 Trees: Let There Be Light at The Gardiner Museum
To Jan. 7
A tradition since 1990, this year’s edition is co-curated by author and visual artist Douglas Coupland and focuses on light as a symbol of hope. Evan Biddell, Vivian Wong, Julia White, Alex McLeod, Connor Crawford, Christine Dewancker and Katherine Strang are among the contributing artists who have designed themed trees. This year’s creations include an animated winter dreamscape and a disco-ball tree.
Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen’s Park

Home Alone in Concert
Dec. 1-2
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, joined by the Etobicoke School of the Arts Junior Chorus, performs John Williams score from the 1990 smash hit during a live screening of the movie. The hit comedic film sees Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister take on two bumbling burglars by himself (played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) when his family accidentally leaves for a trip without him.
Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St.

St. Michael’s Choir School Annual Christmas Concert
Dec. 2-3
The angelic voices of the St. Michael’s Choir School, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, perform both secular and sacred carols to herald the Christmas season, including “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Hallelujah,” and Handel’s “Messiah Part I.”
Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St.

150 Years of Canadian Christmas at Casa Loma
Dec. 2-Jan. 7
The city’s palatial castle celebrates the season with a 40-foot tree designed by Canadian icon Jeanne Beker, along with eight other trees throughout the estate. Live entertainment features illusionist Professor Wick and ice skating performers Glisse on Ice. Kids can seek out Santa Claus at his castle workshop, decorate edible treats, and partake in arts and crafts.
1 Austin Terr.

A Christmas Carol. Photo by Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

A Christmas Carol
Dec. 7-24
Bah-humbug! Miserly Ebenezer Scrooge discovers his heart and the holiday spirit after visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future in this adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic presented by Soulpepper Theatre Company.
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane

Peter Pan
Dec. 8-31
Escape to Neverland with J.M. Barrie’s iconic character, Peter Pan. The boy who never grows up encounters an assortment of colourful characters including pirates, fairies, crocodiles, and even ordinary children like the Darling siblings. This musical rendition by Soulpepper Theatre Company is sure to capture the imagination of the entire family.
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane

The Nutcracker
Dec. 9-30
A true holiday classic featuring the Sugar Plum Fairy, dancing bears, and cannon dolls, is masterfully choreographed by James Kudelka and set to music by Tchaikovsky. The National Ballet of Canada transforms E.T.A. Hoffman’s traditional tale with enchanting dance numbers, elaborate costumes, and lavish sets.
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W.

The Lorax. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax
Dec. 9-Jan. 21
The North American premiere of this Dr. Seuss fable about protecting the environment gets the stage treatment. Direct from London and adapted by David Greig, Dr. Seuss’s colourful world is reflected with bold sets and costumes, puppets, and an original score by Charlie Fink.
Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. W.

The Illusionists
Dec. 12-Jan. 7
Marvel as seven world-class magicians perform dazzling displays of wizardy and more right before your eyes. Back by popular demand—last year’s shows sold out—new performers are part of this year’s line up, including Darcy Oake, a.k.a. The Grand Illusionist, who performs death-defying acts, while Raymond Crowe, a.k.a. The Unusualist, is a mime and ventriloquist, and An Ha Lim, a.k.a. The Manipulator, mesmerizes audiences with card tricks.
Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W.

Dance Me/Music of Leonard Cohen
Dec. 15
This Toronto premiere by Ballets Jazz Montréal (BJM) pays tribute to beloved Canadian singer, songwriter, and poet Leonard Cohen. This contemporary dance company, known for its expressive style and accessibility, selects music from the span of Cohen’s lengthy career.
Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E.

DJ Skate Nights on the Natrel Rink
Dec. 16-Feb. 17
Head down to the waterfront for a scenic twirl on the rink at Harbourfront Centre. DJs spin tunes every Saturday night, with hot beverage and bites available from the rinkside restaurant, Boxcar Social.
Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W.

Sing-Along Messiah
Dec. 17
Become part of the choir at this interactive show led by conductor “Herr Handel” as thousands of voices sing Handel’s beloved Hallelujah chorus. The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, along with featured soloists Joanne Lunn, James Laing, Rufus Müller, and Brett Polegato, take part in this family-friendly concert.
Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St.

Disney on Ice

Disney on Ice Presents Reach for the Stars
Dec. 22-Jan. 1
Beloved friends from the Disney Kingdom, including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, join a royal cast that includes Anna and Elsa (and their snowy sidekick, Olaf), Ariel, Rapunzel, and Belle for a musical skating spectacle. Sing along to such songs as “Be Our Guest,” “Let It Go,” and “Tale as Old as Time.”
Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way

Toronto Christmas Market
To Dec. 23
Inspired by traditional European Christmas markets—and named one of the world’s best by Fodor’s Travel—the magic of the season is on dazzling display at the pedestrian-friendly Distillery District. Good boys and girls can have a photo op with Santa, visit a life-sized gingerbread house, and take a spin on a carousel or a ferris wheel. Grown ups can head to one of several heated lounges and beer gardens throughout the venue and partake in craft beers, mulled wines, European cocktails, and hot toddies.
Distillery District, 55 Mill St.

New Year’s Eve at Nathan Phillips Square
Dec. 31
Bid farewell to 2017 and ring in the new year at the city’s central gathering spot, Nathan Phillips Square. Festivities begin at 8 p.m. (get there earlier to secure a good spot), featuring live performances, a DJ skating party, and an impressive fireworks display to cap off TO Canada with Love, a year-long celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial.
Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W.

Shaping Sound Dance Company Brings Bold New Moves to Toronto

The members of Shaping Sound

The members of Shaping Sound

JUNE 15  Experience an exhilarating mash-up of contemporary music and dance as Shaping Sound presents its first-ever live national tour. Created by and starring Emmy-nominated choreographers Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson—you know them best from So You Think You Can Dance—the show fuses hip-hop, jazz, ballet and modern dance steps in a dynamic display of grace, speed and strength. Royal Alexandra Theatre, 7 p.m., $39 to $89; call 416-872-1212 or see mirvish.com for more information.  —Macrina Smart

Feel the Rhythm as Stomp Returns to Toronto

Stomp Toronto Mirvish

The clangers and bangers of Stomp return to Toronto this April (photo: Steve McNicholas)

APRIL 16 TO 21  Your heartbeat won’t be the only pulse you feel when the explosive Stomp returns to Toronto for a limited engagement. Using matchboxes, broomsticks, garbage cans, hubcaps and more, each member of the eight-piece percussion troupe contributes their distinctive voice—truly becoming one with their everyday “instruments”—to build a cohesive and invigorating rhythm. After more than two decades on stages around the world, this unique physical-theatre staple remains a must-see show for audiences of all ages. Royal Alexandra Theatre, $25 to $99; call 416-872-1212 or click here for showtimes and to buy.  —Macrina Smart

Hot Date: Backbeat and the Original Beatles

photo by Nobby Clark

JULY 21 TO SEPTEMBER 2 Relive the often-overlooked story of how five Liverpudlians went to Hamburg and soon after became the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band. Backbeat follows the original members of The Beatles and the fractious relationships that eventually turned the quintet—John, Paul and George, yes, but also Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe—into the Fab Four we know today. Complete with early classics like “Love Me Do,” “Twist and Shout” and “Long Tall Sally,” this musical is a must for any Beatles fan. Royal Alexandra Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $36 to $130; call 416-872-1212 or click here for further details.

Hot Date: Kathleen Turner Says the Drugs Don’t Work in High

photo by Larry Nagler

MAY 8 TO 13 A story of human frailty and the promise of redemption unfolds with devastating power as two-time Golden Globe winner Kathleen Turner steps onto the stage in High. In a critically acclaimed performance, Turner embodies Sister Jamison Connelly, who sponsors a teenage drug addict’s long and treacherous road to recovery. But in taking on the dual roles of rehab counselor and a woman of religious conviction, the nun finds her own faith sorely tested. Royal Alexandra Theatre, $50 to $150; call 416-872-1212 or visit here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Date: The Blue Dragon’s Culture Clash

JANUARY 10 TO FEBRUARY 19 A Canadian expatriate living in modern-day China finds himself pulled between two women—one from his Eastern present and the other from his Western past. The intriguing story of The Blue Dragon is made even more compelling through graceful dance, powerful performances and stunning cinematic stagecraft, courtesy of Canadian theatre legend Robert Lepage. The Quebec-based artist co-wrote this story with Marie Michaud, as a follow-up to their collaborative work The Dragons’ Trilogy. The two also perform the lead roles alongside dancer Tai Wei Foo. Royal Alexandra Theatre, $25 to $99; call 416-872-1212 or click here for showtimes and tickets.

Weekend Roundup, September 16 to 18

Friday: Paul Gross and Kim Cattrall debut in Noël Coward's Private Lives

Friday, September 16
Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross trade the silver screen for the big stage in the Toronto engagement of Private Lives. This straight-from-London production of Noël Coward’s comedy classic opens tonight at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

Discover Ukrainian culture at the Toronto Ukrainian Festival. The event kicks off tonight and runs all weekend in Bloor West Village. Watch dancers and musicians, taste authentic Ukrainian food and drinks, and shop the sidewalk sale.

Cheer on slugger Jose Bautista, rising star Brett Lawrie, and the rest of the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, as they open a three-game  series against the New York Yankees (and look to spoil the Bronx Bombers’ hopes of another division title).

Saturday: Celebrate the season at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Saturday, September 17
Press some cider, bid on handmade quilts, and take a horse-drawn wagon ride at the 55th Pioneer Festival at Black Creek Pioneer Village. This year’s event celebrates local food and the history of the harvest with fresh-baked pies and a team of volunteers producing 1,000 pounds of sausage throughout the day.

Don your red threads and head over to BMO Field for some Major League Soccer action. See if Torsten Frings and Julian de Guzman can lead Toronto FC to victory against the visiting Colorado Rapids.

Listen to the folk-rock melodies of Wilco at Massey Hall. The Chicago-based band is following up on its 2009 Grammy-nominated, self-titled record with the release of its eighth studio album, The Whole Love, due out later this month.

Sunday: Cheer on the thousands of runners keeping Terry Fox's dream alive (photo by Logantech)

Sunday, September 18
Carry on the legacy and spirit of national hero and support cancer research. Running, walking, and cycling paths of various lengths will be set up at Terry Fox Run sites around the city.

Celebrate “Hangawi,” also known as the Korean Thanksgiving at the Korean Harvest Festival. Concerts, a Korean culture show, and a singing competition are all part of the festivities taking place at Mel Lastman Square in North Toronto.

Polka your way over to Roncesvalles Village for the Roncesvalles Polish Festival. Experience the heritage, art, music, and food of Poland, along with a soccer tournament, and film screenings at the Revue cinema.

Hot Date: Kim Cattrall’s Ex Files

SEPTEMBER 16 TO OCTOBER 30 While honeymooning with her new husband, divorcée Amanda discovers her ex-husband Elyot is staying in the room next door in Noël Coward’s comedic classic Private Lives. The two lead characters, played by Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross (of Due South fame), revive past faults and rekindle their passion while arguing across a balcony that overlooks the glamorous French Riviera. Directed by Richard Eyre, this hit from London’s West End runs in Toronto before heading to Broadway. Royal Alexandra Theatre, $35 to $130; call 416-872-1212 or click here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Date: Carrie Fisher’s Juicy Tell-All

Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking (photo by Joan Marcus)

JULY 12 TO AUGUST 21 All-around talented film star, best-selling novelist and acclaimed screenwriter Carrie Fisher brings her award-winning show, Wishful Drinking to Toronto. Best known for her role—and hairdo—as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, Fisher tells the story of her life as a Hollywood celebrity with a wry, witty tone sure to make you laugh. Royal Alexandra Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $35 to $99; call 416-872-1212 or click here to buy.

Hot Date: Theatre in the Buff

APRIL 15 TO MAY 28 Prepare for another taste of English theatrical fare. Like the current success of Billy Elliot the Musical, the heartening and hilarious Calendar Girls is adapted from a hit British film. The latter, however, features an all-Canadian cast comprising an ordinary women’s club that causes an uproar by creating a risqué calendar for charity. This North American premiere leaves no funny bone unexposed. Royal Alexandra Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $30 to $94; call 416-872-1212 or click here for tickets.

Hot Date: Peek into the Secret Garden

The Secret Garden (photo by Richard Campbell)

FEBRUARY 8 TO MARCH 19 A world of natural beauty is revealed to Toronto in the Tony Award–winning musical, The Secret Garden. Adapted from the enduring turn-of-the-century novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the enchanting production shows how a young girl brings new life to an entire Victorian household by tending to its neglected flower patch. Royal Alexandra Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $55 to $110; call 416-872-1212 or click here for tickets.

You Are Here: Entertainment District

Day or night, the glow of marquee lights and cheering spectators ensures Toronto’s central hot spot is full of life. From the first pitch on the ball diamond to the final curtain call, this area’s top attractions, theatres and stadiums—not to mention restaurants, bars and clubs—are the city’s crowning glory.
View You Are Here: Entertainment District in a larger map

TREAD LIGHTLY Spread across 13 blocks, Canada’s Walk of Fame is a tribute in granite to the country’s finest. More than 120 Canadians have been honoured since 1998, including actors William Shatner and Mike Myers, directors David Cronenberg and Ivan Reitman, singers Joni Mitchell and Diana Krall, and comedian Eugene Levy.

Princess of Wales Theatre

FIT FOR ROYALTY Named in part for the late Princess Diana, the horseshoe-shaped Princess of Wales Theatre is an example of superior craftsmanship: Venetian terrazzo floors, mahogany from Africa adorning the arches and handrails, glass and tile mosaics, and more than 10,000 square feet of murals by American artist Frank Stella covering the ceiling, proscenium arch, lounges and lobbies. Over the years, Tony Award–winning productions such as The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon have played here to rousing applause. Next month the curtain rises on Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical.

A CENTURY OF SHOWS The oldest continuously operating theatre in North America, the Royal Alexandra Theatre is as known for its beaux-arts style architecture as it is for the esteemed names who have taken to its stage: Édith Piaf, Orson Welles and Martin Short have all made audiences laugh, cry and burst into thunderous applause. The venue itself is impressively appointed with Italian marble, carved walnut and cherrywood, gilded plaster and crystal chandeliers. Presently, the 1980s hair-metal love story Rock of Ages is bringing down the house.

Roy Thomson Hall

APPEALING TO THE EARS The unique, curvilinear glass exterior of Roy Thomson Hall makes it an oft-photographed site. But the home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is more than just a pretty facade. Renovations in 2002 made it one of the city’s most acoustically stellar concert halls. The TSO kicks off its 89th season with Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony no. 2 on September 23. Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, mezzo-soprano Susan Platts and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir help bring the piece to life.

SYMBOL IN THE SKY The CN Tower may have lost the title of world’s tallest free-standing structure, but it remains the pinnacle of this city’s unique skyline. At a commanding 553.33 metres tall, this communication tower—built by the Canadian National Railway in 1972—offers aerial views from several vantage points. The SkyPod presides over an unparalleled view at 447 metres, while upscale restaurant 360 dishes up a revolving panorama at 351 metres.

SPORTS CENTRAL Adjacent to the CN Tower is another iconic element of Toronto’s downtown landscape. The multi-purpose Rogers Centre is home to Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays and the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, and was the world’s first stadium with a retractable roof. In addition to cheering sports fans, music lovers also pack the field for raucous concerts by such bands as Bon Jovi and the Jonas Brothers. Take a one-hour guided tour to see a luxury suite, press box and the Blue Jays Hall of Fame.