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Soulpepper Theatre Company

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.

Soulpepper’s The Barber of Seville Features a Famous Figaro

Dan Chameroy stars as Figaro in Soulpepper's The Barber of Seville (photo: Sandy Nicholson)

Dan Chameroy stars as Figaro in Soulpepper’s The Barber of Seville (photo: Sandy Nicholson)

STARTS MAY 9  Intricately melding its original source—Pierre Beaumarchais’ 18th-century play—as well as Rossini’s opera and even a more recent version by Canadian playwright Michael O’Brien and composer John Millard, Soulpepper Theatre Company’s reimagined take on The Barber of Seville brings to the stage a light comedy that was nonetheless radical in its time. Featuring the character of Figaro (portrayed by Dan Chameroy), a servant who’s anything but servile, the play may well have helped inflame the French Revolution. Nowadays the story is perhaps less provocative, but in a new adaptation it retains great populist appeal. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, $51 to $68; call 416-866-8666 or visit soulpepper.ca for showtimes and to buy.  —Macrina Smart

Soulpepper Stages Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

The Young Centre hosts Soulpepper Theatre Company’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

STARTS FEBRUARY 7  Soulpepper Theatre Company opens its new season with a contemporary favourite that takes its cues from a timeless masterpiece. Turning Hamlet on its head, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead follows two minor courtiers in Shakespeare’s tale; ordered to help plot Hamlet’s death, it is they who are outwitted and then killed. Directed by Joseph Ziegler, the metatheatrical work brings to the fore what otherwise would have occurred off-stage in the Bard’s tragedy, exploring existentialist themes like fate, control and the conflict between art and reality. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, $22 to $68; call 416-866-8666 or see Soulpepper’s website for showtimes and tickets.  —Ana Taveira

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…)

Weekend Roundup: July 20 to 22

Friday: Speed-the-Plow satirizes the movie industry (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)

Friday, July 20
Expect cracking dialogue and fierce satire this evening as Soulpepper Theatre Company performs David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow. The play examines the lives of two American film producers while dissecting the relationship between art and commerce.

The Toronto Summer Music Festival returned earlier in the week and brought with it a full slate of concerts, master classes and lectures for classical music lovers. Tonight, the acclaimed Borodin Quartet presents Music of Russia, a program of string quartets by Russian composers, including Borodin, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky.

Once again the Harbourfront Centre becomes of a cultural smorgasbord of music, dance, international fare and more as the Hot & Spicy Food Festival occupies the downtown waterfront. The festival kicks it up a notch with exciting competitions like tonight’s Taco Takedown—where you decide which taco reigns supreme—and the annual Iron Chef competition, held over the weekend and concluding Sunday afternoon. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: July 13 to 15

Friday: See artist-designed tutus and much more at the Design Exchange (photo by Setareh Sarmadi and Marta Ryczko)

Friday, July 13
Get an insider’s look into the history of the the country’s most prominent dance company, as the Design Exhange presents 60 Years of Designing the Ballet. The exclusive exhibition tells the story of the National Ballet of Canada through set pieces, paintings, videos and archival wardrobes, including 60 iconic tutus for the troupe’s diamond anniversary.

The hallowed grounds of Fort York play host to a vaunted group of electronic musicians tonight as dubstep hero Skrillex brings his Full Flex Express tour to town. Accompanying the popular DJ/producer are a handful of cohorts including Montreal’s Grimes and Philly-based DJ Diplo.

The Soundclash Festival kicks off tonight at Harbourfront Centre, with dance and musical performances ongoing throughout the weekend. This evening you’re invited to feel the funky Afrobeat as Benin’s Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo de Cotonou takes the stage for its Canadian debut. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: May 25 to 27

Sunday: Akosua Amo-Adem and Soulpepper Academy artists perform Dirt (photo by Nathan Kelly)

Friday, May 25
More than 75 bags of dirt fill the Tank House Theatre stage (at the Yonge Centre for the Performing Arts) as the Soulpepper Academy performs Dirt, their theatrical production that revolves around the literal and metaphorical use of, well, dirt. Whether it’s the substance under your fingernails or a dirty secret, the show explores the use of dirt through stories, movement and technology.

Mayer Hawthorne, known for mixing “old school” soul with “new school” sounds, draws inspiration from classic singers like Smokey Robinson. He’s currently on tour with his second album How Do You Do? and swings into T.O. tonight for a show at The Hoxton.

Head to Harboufront Centre tonight for Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre’s Arena, a dramatic program of six contemporary works. Among the dynamic offerings are two premieres, one choreographed by the 2012 resident guest artist Sylvie Bouchard, the other by Deborah Lundmark, the company’s founding artistic director. (more…)

Hot Date: An Encore for Kim’s Convenience

photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

MAY 16 TO JUNE 16 EXTENDED TO JULY 4! On the surface, Kim’s Convenience is a love letter to the countless Korean corner stores that have fallen victim to Toronto’s ever-in-flux business landscape. But that’s just the backdrop for the private inter-generational and inter-cultural conflicts with with so many Canadians can identify. Written by Ins Choi, the humorous yet poignant tale of a Korean-Canadian family bridging the gap between old traditions and modern life returns to the stage following its wildly successful Soulpepper Theatre Company debut this past January. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, $32 to $68; call 416-866-8666 or visit here for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

Weekend Roundup: April 20 to 22

Friday: Popular show Riverdance steps into Toronto for its final performances

Friday, April 20
Be wowed one last time by the phenomenal footwork of Riverdance. The internationally acclaimed Irish music and dance spectacular is at the Sony Centre through to Sunday as part of its last ever tour of North America.

Operatic soprano Renée Fleming brings her sensational voice to Roy Thomson Hall this evening. Accompanied by pianist Hartmut Holl, the “People’s Diva” is sure to dazzle with her dynamic stage presence and an intriguing program of songs by the likes of Schoenberg and Korngold.

The Theatre Centre continues to stage its adaptation of William Faulkner’s darkly comedic novel As I Lay Dying, which follows a family’s journey through the Mississippi countryside as part of a 40-mile funeral procession. (more…)

Hot Date: Soulpepper’s Strained Relations

Joseph Ziegler directs You Can't Take it With You (photo by Sandy Nicholson)

OPENS APRIL 19 Everyone can relate to that anxious moment when you first introduce your beau—or belle—to the folks. Soulpepper Theatre Company and director Joseph Ziegler take the occasion a step further in a staging of You Can’t Take it With You. Comedy ensues in this Pulitzer Prize-winning play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart when Alice, perhaps the most sensible member of the eccentric Sycamore clan, invites her paramour and his conservative parents to dine with her family. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, $32 to $68; call 416-866-8666 or visit here for showtimes and
to purchase tickets.

 

Weekend Roundup: March 2 to 4

Friday: Entity offers provocative dance (photo by Ravi Deepres)

Friday, March 2
A stunning yet spare staging of contemporary dance awaits Harbourfront Centre audiences, as England’s Random Dance Company and acclaimed choreographer Wayne McGregor perform Entity, featuring music by the likes of Coldplay, Massive Attack and Jon Hopkins.

The National Ballet of Canada’s winter season opened this week with the lighthearted, romantic and slightly comical La Fille mal gardee. This classic pastoral ballet tells the story of Lise, who wishes to marry a young farmer. Her mother, however, has other plans, and promises Lise to a wealthy but buffoonish landowner.

The Artist Project Toronto entices creators, collectors and enthusiasts to Exhibition Place’s Queen Elizabeth Building this weekend. Admire contemporary works of photography, painting, textile art, digital media and more by independent artists Canada and around the world. While there, take a trip down Installation Alley to view large-scale sculptures and conceptual art projects, too. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: January 27 to 29

Friday: Get a dinner deal during Winterlicious (photo courtesy of Pangaea)

Friday, January 27
Start the weekend off with a Winterlicious meal as the citywide culinary extravaganza celebrates 10 years of tickling Torontonians’ taste buds. Approximately 175 restaurants are taking part; there are probably a few that aren’t entirely booked up this weekend.

Relive two of the most celebrated records of all time, as Classic Albums Live performs the Beatles’ seminal 1965/66 hits Rubber Soul and Revolver at Massey Hall.

See a real-life mother and son reenact their story of the culture clash between Indian heritage and Canadian lifestyle in Tarragon Theatre’s A Brimful of Asha. Follow Ravi on his trip to the motherland, where his parents decide it’s the perfect time to talk him into an arranged marriage. (more…)