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Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

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 Shows for the Holidays

The holiday hoopla is beginning to reach fever pitch in Toronto. In the lead-up to December 25, the city offers numerous seasonal shows that are sure to enthrall the whole family.

The National Ballet's Nutcracker

SPIRIT OF THE SEASON
DECEMBER 6 TO DECEMBER 30 A classic tale is told in Soulpepper Theatre’s lauded staging of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The troupe’s adaptation is noted for its reverence to Dickens’ original prose, as well as strong performances by a stellar cast, including Joseph Ziegler as the tormented Ebenezer Scrooge. Performed in the round, this is a holiday treat for the traditional theatre lover.

GET CRACKIN’
DECEMBER 11 TO JANUARY 2 The Four Seasons Centre is transformed into a magical kingdom in the National Ballet of Canada’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Choreographer James Kudelka’s reworking of this classic story is an elegant take on Misha and Marie’s journey through a fairy tale land of sugar plum fairies and toy soldiers. Watching the ballerinas float across the stage in perfect coordination with Tchaikovsky’s memorable score is a delight that is sure to transport you into the blissful land of sweets and snow.

MULTIPLE MESSIAHS
DECEMBER 16 TO 21 (TSO)
DECEMBER 15 TO 19 (TAFELMUSIK)
Classical music doesn’t get much more joyous than this! The renowned Toronto Symphony Orchestra offers a stirring rendition of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah at Roy Thomson Hall. Featuring more than 60 instruments and accompanied by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, this is a performance on the grandest possible scale. If you can’t help but join in the music-making, the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir invites you to Massey Hall for its Sing-Along Messiah, a holiday tradition spanning a quarter-century. It’s a truly moving experience to be part of the hundreds of voices singing this immortal oratorio. (Tafelmusik also offers four traditional Messiah concerts at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.)

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

GREEN CHRISTMAS
DECEMBER 17 TO JANUARY 2 Dr. Seuss’s world of whimsy comes to life at the Sony Centre in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical. This acclaimed Broadway production is true to the author’s original story and illustrations, remaking the stage as an animated Whoville. Though the Grinch may start the show with a heart “three sizes too small,” he soon comes to learn the true meaning of Christmas.

MONSTROUS FUN
NOVEMBER 25 TO JANUARY 2 Popular producer Ross Petty brings his brand of zany enchantment to the Elgin Theatre in the form of Beauty and the Beast: The Savagely Silly Family Musical. Featuring stars of stage and screen, this is a unique, contemporary theatre experience for kids and families, with many laughs to be had as the characters guide you through a classic tale with a comedic twist.

AN ICE-BOUND TRIP
DECEMBER 25 TO JANUARY 2 Disney on Ice dazzles Rogers Centre spectators with Mickey and Minnie’s Magical Journey. See the beloved cartoon mice as they dive under the sea with The Little Mermaid, venture into Africa with The Lion King, fly through the skies with Peter Pan and hula dance with Lilo & Stitch. This round-the-world journey makes a great gift for both kids and parents.

Holiday Happenings: Seasoned Performances

This season is bursting with festive, holiday-themed shows and concerts, from the classical and magical to the satirical.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)

Triple the Hallelujahs
Torontonians are spoiled for choice when it comes to enjoying one of the world’s cherished Christmas classics, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. One version of the oratorio will be performed by the esteemed Toronto Symphony Orchestra on December 16, 18, 19, 20 and 21. Dubbed “Toronto’s Favourite Messiah,” the uplifting concert is highlighted by the debut of three young talents: conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni, countertenor Matthew White and baritone Tyler Duncan. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., $35 to $99; call 416-872-4255 or visit here for tickets.

Ballet Creole’s Soulful Messiah promises to delight with a unique, movement-oriented take on Handel’s masterpiece. Its shows on December 11, 12 and 13 combine the company’s trademark African and Caribbean dance influences with tap, contemporary R&B and the voices of legendary black singers for a joyous and moving celebration. Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W., $20 to $45; call 416-973-4000 or click here for tickets.

A third—and beloved—interpretation of the Messiah, by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir on December 20, encourages audience participation. Conducted by a feisty, white-wigged “Maestro Handel,” the Sing-Along Messiah lets you lift your voice in song with 2,700 other audience members and guest soloists. A special offer lets groups of six save $10 per ticket off the regular price. It’s enough to make you shout “Hallelujah!” Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., $25 to $39; call 416-872-4255 or see Tafelmusik’s website for details and tickets.

Two Cheers for the Children
There’s nothing more angelic than children’s voices soaring in perfect harmony. On December 11 and 12, the St. Michael’s Choir School stages Sing We Noel, Noel We Sing, its annual Christmas concert. Featuring a special performance of Dancing Day for choir and harp composed by John Rutter, the show includes sacred music from the Catholic tradition and Christmas sing-along favourites. Massey Hall, $22.50 to $36.50; call 416-872-4255 or navigate here to purchase tickets.

The youthful yet very professional members of the Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre present Wintersong: Dances for a Sacred Season on December 18 and 19. The tapestry of five dances comprising the show mixes mid-winter solstice dance influences from Native Canadian, Jewish, Christian and secular traditions. Live Celtic music adds to the enchanting atmosphere. Fleck Dance Theatre, $15 to $28; call 416-973-4000 or visit this link for information and tickets.

The Nutcracker (photo by Bruce Zinger)

The Nutcracker (photo by Bruce Zinger)

Favourite Fairy Tale
Even heretofore hardened hearts hearts will melt at the National Ballet of Canada’s magical production of The Nutcracker on December 12, 16, 17 and 18. Featuring a full orchestra, a gorgeous set, a dancing horse, a lively battle and the participation of the VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto, this classical ballet takes audiences on an amazing adventure through a dreamscape where toys comes to life, snowflakes waltz and the Sugar Plum Fairy falls in love with the Nutcracker Prince to the heavenly sound of the celesta. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., $33 to $121; call 416-345-9595 or click here for tickets.

Season for Satire
In a month that can change from cheerful to stressful faster than you can say “Happy Holidays,”
The Second City gives us two reasons to laugh. What the Elf?!? is a family-friendly musical about a lost tin soldier trying to find Santa’s sleigh. An interactive improv show follows the musical on December 21, 22, and 23; parents and their young children to participate. For adults, Second City’s Dysfunctional Holiday Revue on December 19 pokes fun at holiday traditions, family reunions, Christmas carols—even the relationship between Joseph and Mary. 51 Mercer St. What the Elf?!? $12 per ticket or $40 for a family four-pack. Dysfunctional Holiday Revue $22; call 416-343-0011 for tickets.