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The Second City

Get Set for Summer: Culture Vultures

THERE’S A LOT TO DO IN THE CITY THIS SUMMER. BELOW ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR THE CULTURALLY-MINDED VISITOR

ThongSandals-2016-OilOnCanvas-48x60inches

Thong Sandals. Oil on canvas by Marco Sassone.

The Second City  returns with The Best of Second City, a rousing combination of some of the funniest sketches from the company’s past 50 years. Families can enjoy Superdude and Doctor Rude, a superhero story with a twist based on audience participation. Matilda the Musical is another family-friendly production, which opens July 5, while Shakespeare in High Park presents Hamlet and All’s Well That Ends Well on alternating nights in scenic High Park.

For centuries, plants—particularly flowers—have been the inspiration behind the creation of beautiful textile designs. Bliss: Gardens Real and Imagined, on now at the Textile Museum of Canada, highlights the pervasive use of floral motifs across cultures, from intricate Persian carpets to handmade quilts. The Bata Shoe Museum commemorates Italian heritage month with a selection of oil paintings by American-Italian painter Marco Sassone. His Boots and Other Works illustrate the artist’s love of fashion and footwear, from worn out boots to party shoes.

Film buffs won’t want to miss the Hitchcock/Truffaut: Magnificent Obsessions double retrospective at TIFF Bell Lightbox, which starts July 7. Featuring more than a dozen films by each director, the series highlights their similarities and includes Alfred Hitchcock classics like The Birds, and Vertigo, alongside François Truffaut films like Jules et Jim and The 400 Blows.

EAT Experience the flavours of the Middle East, North and South Asia with Mark McEwan’s flavourful menu at Diwan, while taking in the gorgeous grounds of the Aga Khan Museum. After working up appetite at the Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario, visit Frank for a bistro-inspired menu amidst installations by Frank Stella. Moviegoers can dine at Luma, located at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. —Karen Stevens

 

16 Things to Do for March Break 2016

A WEEK OFF FROM SCHOOL IS EVERY CHILD’S DREAM, BUT PERHAPS LESS THRILLING FOR PARENTS WHO NEED TO KEEP LITTLE ONES ENTERTAINED AND FROM CRYING OUT “THERE’S NOTHING TO DO” FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME. HERE ARE 16 KID-APPROVED IDEAS FOR HAVING FUN THIS MARCH BREAK IN TORONTO.

The TIFF Bell Lightbox hosts digiPlaySpace for the fifth year, which engages children through interactive play involving animation, robotics and more. (photo: courtesy of TIFF)

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Retweetable Wit in The Second City’s The Meme-ing of Life

Toronto's Second City performers ponder the Meme-ing of Life

Toronto’s Second City performers ponder the Meme-ing of Life

TO JUNE 30  Our everyday trials and tribulations are brazenly laid bare in the latest revue by The Second City, The Meme-ing of Life. Based on the premise that modern existence is a series of “fleeting wins and epics fails,” the company finds comedy in even the most mundane scenarios: the unwritten rules of internet dating; riding the bus with an unrepentant seat hog; and even the decision to have your drink “jacked up” at Jack Astor’s. If these are the truths of our lives, we might as well embrace them with good humour. 51 Mercer St., $24 to $29; call 416-343-0011 or visit secondcity.com for a schedule and to buy.  —Anna Marszalek

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: April 6 to 8

Friday: See Hudson the polar bear, then enjoy some Easter-themed family fun (photo courtesy of the Toronto Zoo)

Friday, April 6
Treat the kids this long weekend with a trip to the Toronto Zoo. In addition to admiring animals from around the world, including a brand new baby polar bear named Hudson, kids can take part in the annual Easter Egg-Stravaganza, which offers a lineup of fun activities as well as the Beary-Bunny Easter Parade at noon and 2 p.m.

Hilarious comedy troupe The National Theatre of the World brings back its side-splitting Carnegie Hall Show to The Second City. The award-winning improv production features four of Toronto’s best comics acting out scenes based on mundane everyday activities. Also enjoy special performances of dance, Burlesque and even acrobatics.

Calling all music lovers! Grammy-nominated British duo The Ting Tings are set to rock the Phoenix Concert Theatre tonight, in promotion of their latest album, Sounds from Nowheresville. Perhaps you’ve heard of their hit, “Shut Up and Let Me Go”?

Saturday: Examine the patterned works of Marlis Saunders at the Design Exchange

Saturday, April 7
There are more than 100 colourful works to view in Marlis Saunders’ exhibition, entitled Stop, Drop, Repeat, at the Design Exchange. The German-Canadian artist is recognized as a pioneer of the Bauhaus school, and her patterned works are exemplars of that style.

A response to the classic play A Raisin in the Sun, Clybourne Park is a story of race and real estate set in a Chicago neighbourhood and spanning two generations. The dark comedy starts out in 1959, as a black family looks to move into an all-white neighbourhood, then fast-forwards to 2009, when a white family moves into the same house in what has become an all-black area.

Enjoy homegrown drama as renowned Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor brings Was Spring to the Tarragon Theatre. It’s a story of three generations of women who confront each other about a tragic event from their past.

Sunday: Ajax and Little Iliad is on stage at Harbourfront Centre

Sunday, April 8
The latest production in Harbourfront Centre’s popular World Stage series, Ajax & Little Iliad sets out to define the “theatre of war” for civilian audiences. Only 30 seats are available for each performance of this intimate show; each audience member listens through a pair of headphones for a truly personal experience.

The end is near! The end of the Royal Ontario Museum’s Maya exhibition, that is. After calling the institution home for the past four months, the Maya: Secrets of Their Ancient World mega-show moves on Monday. Take advantage of your last chance to discover priceless Mayan artifacts, learn about their sophisticated rituals and explore the mysterious end-of-days legend.

And if you don’t feel like venturing into the kitchen this Easter weekend, Toronto has plenty o’ places that’ll do the work for you, especially for that most comforting of meals—brunch. Check out some of the restaurants offering a holiday-Sunday repast here.

30 Things We Love About Toronto This November and December

2. Spirits by Karoo Ashevak (photo courtesy of the Museum of Inuit Art)

1. Crunching into stone-baked pizzas and grilled panini at Café Uno in the the Distillery Historic District.

2. Marveling at finely crafted stone and bone carvings at the Museum of Inuit Art.

3. Horses and llamas and cows (oh my!), plus a giant vegetable competition and more at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

4. Admiring Grace Kelly’s glamourous gowns, Oscar and more at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

5. Savouring straight-from-the-tandoor-oven naan—alongside chicken tikka and palak paneer—at Little India. (more…)

Hot Date: Witty Reveries with The Second City

ON NOW It’s time to face the truth. Well, sort of.
The Second City dishes out its own skewed view of reality in its latest show, Dreams Really Do Come True (and Other Lies). Toronto’s funniest band of misfits exposes the absurdities of the lies we tell ourselves in a variety of sketches, improvisations and songs. Think of it as comic relief—just in case our dreams do not, in fact, work out. Wednesday to Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 8 and 10:30 p.m., Sunday 7 p.m., $24 to $29; call 416-343-0011 or check here to buy.

Weekend Roundup, April 1st to 3rd

Friday: Peruse funky bowls by Carolyne Brouillard and many other items at the One of a Kind Spring Show

Friday, April 1
Artists, designers and shoppers unite! The always anticipated One of a Kind Spring Show has begun, and runs through to this Sunday at Exhibition Place’s Direct Energy Centre. Here, 450 artisans offer unique, handmade art, clothing, accessories and designs for purchase. This year, the show features a Muskoka Artists Marketplace as well as workshops and seminars on home design.

In the same vein, the International Home & Garden Show also takes place this weekend at the International Centre, just west of Toronto. Hundreds of home experts, interior designers and landscaping professionals will be on hand for consultation, offering thousands of products and ideas to help freshen up your home this spring.

A new Major League Baseball season begins tonight as the Toronto Blue Jays go to bat against Minnesota Twins. The game at the Rogers Centre is officially sold out (yes, all 50,000 seats), but you can catch the game with the locals at Real Sports Bar & Grill or Wayne Gretzky’s.

Saturday: Rod Steward joins Stevie Nicks for an evening of song (photo by Mark Seliger)

Saturday, April 2
Catch Toronto FC in the second game of its fledgling Major League Soccer season, as the boys in red square off against Chivas USA from Carson, California. The match starts at 1 p.m. at BMO Field, just steps from the popular Liberty Village neighbourhood. Before the game, fill up on some comforting brunch dishes at School Bakery & Café or Mildred’s Temple Kitchen.

The St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts offers two chances (at 2 and 8 p.m.) to hear A Little Nightmare Music, with classical musicians and YouTube sensations Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo. The duo has taken the world by storm with their unique and hilarious theatrical show that combines classical music with popular culture.

On Saturday evening, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks bring their Heart & Soul Tour to the Air Canada Centre. A “can’t-miss” concert event, the distinctive singers are slated to perform hits from their catalogs, as well as some duets.

Sunday: Partake in historical fare at Fort York (photo by Webguy63)

Sunday, April 3
History is made fun at Fork York National Historic Site, in the heart of downtown Toronto. The heritage site hosts a Historical Food Tasting and Tea experience from 1 to 3 p.m., including samples of old-fashioned food recipes from the fort’s restored 1826 kitchen, plus tea and the freedom to explore the rest of the site.

Starting today, a new exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario features the evolution of 20th-century Inuit art. Inuit Modern: the Samuel & Esther Sarick Collection showcases more than 175 works, including pieces by David Ruben Piqtoukun, Kenojuak Ashevak, Karoo Ashevak, and Lucy Tasseor.

In support of Raising the Roof’s Youthworks initiative, the All-Star Comedy Cabaret is just one aspect of this weekend’s April Fool’s Weekend of Comedy festival. Taking place at 7:30 p.m. at The Second City, the fundraiser is hosted by Steve Patterson of CBC’s The Debaters and features comedians like CBC’s Pete Zedlacher (Just For Laughs, The Hour), Almost Heroes’ Ryan Bellevill, CityTV’s Jonny Harris, David Merry, Evan Carter and Shaun Majumder.

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…)

Weekend Roundup, July 23 to 25

Come rain or shine, Toronto has a bustling weekend ahead with entertainment for everyone!

Friday: Sting gets serious

Friday, July 23
World-famous pop tunesmith Sting has entered the stage of his career where reinterpreting old hits seems enough to satisfy his creative spirit. And so he arrives this evening at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre with a coterie of classical musicians: The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra accompanies the former Police man in a unique performance of his most memorable songs, from “Roxanne” to “Fields of Gold” and much more.

Whet your appetite for Caribbean culture as part of the ongoing Scotiabank Caribana Festival. The big parade may be a few weeks away, but you can get in the mood at the Royal Ontario Museum, which showcases more than 100 works by African-Canadian artists in its “From the Soul” exhibition.

Get ready to (affordably!) strut down the streets of Toronto. Frugal Fashion Week offers an evening of food and apparel at the Bata Shoe Museum, including an exhibition of celebrity- and designer-created shoes, a silent auction and more.

Get to know your prairies as Love, Saskatchewan kicks off at Harbourfront Centre. This weekend-long event features an exhibition on cowboy culture, author readings and performances by such bands as Wide Mouth Mason and Little Miss Higgins.

Saturday: See some stars in Love, Loss and What I Wore

Saturday, July 24
Celebrate women in music with the return of Lilith Fair. The Sarah McLachlan–founded festival was popular in the late ’90s, and has been revived for 2010 with performers including Mary J. Blige, Chantal Kreviazuk and, of course, McLachlan herself.

Take a close friend or loved one to a performance of Love, Loss and What I Wore. The production features a star-studded cast of women who relate dynamic, often hilarious, and always poignant stories from the popular book of the same name.

Steer towards the Young Centre for the Performing Arts to check out the venue’s Saturday Night Cabaret Series. Tonight, acclaimed vocalist Heather Bambrick will have you tapping your toes to infectious jazz rhythms, and on your feet applauding by the end of the evening.

Prepare your best Elizabethan laugh for Canopy Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare’s most affecting romantic comedies. Fall in and out of love with the timeless characters as they’re brought to life under the stars at the University of Toronto’s Philosopher’s Walk.

Sunday: The Bolton Shop sheds light on early photography at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Sunday, July 25
A visit to charming Black Creek Pioneer Village is a journey back to the 19th century. The experience is even more immersive thanks to the venue’s new Bolton Shop photography studio. Here, you can put away your digital SLR and discover the fascinating techniques used to capture and develop images more than a century ago.

“Who let the dogs out?” indeed! Prepare to have your heart melt at Ontario Place—the Purina PropPlan Dog Show is in full swing with canines of all shapes and sizes strutting their stuff.

Finish your weekend with some funny—a night of stand-up comedy—as emerging troupe NBAcomics presents its somewhat strangely named Summer Fest 97’ at Toronto’s renowned giggle garage The Second City.

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.

Weekend Roundup, September 4 to 7

Labour Day on Monday makes for a long weekend, so we bring you a special four-day guide of what to do in the city.

Friday: Vernon Wells and his Blue Jays teammates take on the New York Yankees.

Friday: Vernon Wells and the Blue Jays take on the New York Yankees.

Friday, September 4
Root for the home team as the Toronto Blue Jays take on the New York Yankees in today’s Major League Baseball game at the Rogers Centre.

Howl with laughter at The Second City’s final performance of Are We There Yet?, a sketch comedy revue about families and the summer, shaken up with some improv. Kids age six and older are welcome—and may be invited on stage to participate in the antics.

Move your hips to the mariachi sound of violins, guitars, mandolins and trumpets at the Hispanic Fiesta.

Saturday: Look for local produce at the Evergreen Brick Works farmers market.

Saturday: Look for local produce at the Evergreen Brick Works farmers market.

Saturday, September 5
It’s the opening day of the 60th annual Canadian International Air Show! Peer into the sky to find the Canadian Forces’ famed Snowbirds roar across the blue, twisting and turning in a display of aerial stunts.

Pick up Hot & Savoury pickles, preserved locally in Toronto, from the Toorshi Foods table at the Evergreen Brick Works farmers’ market.

If the pickles aren’t spicy enough for your palate, turn up the fire at the Hot + Spicy Food Festival, where you can purchase a variety of spices, sauces, marinades and dips from the Red Hot Marketplace.

Sunday: See Karen Robinson in <em>The Tempest</em>.

Sunday: See Karen Robinson in The Tempest.

Sunday, September 6
It’s the last night of the Canadian Stage Dream in High Park. Cozy up to your date on a blanket and watch Shakespeare’s The Tempest under the stars.

Treat yourself to Sunday brunch on the intimate patio at Live Organic Food Bar, where you can get dejeuner served up raw and vegan—try the walnut crepes with shaved pear and strawberry compote and cashew chantilli cream.

Unearth some of the best spots for dim sum on the Tour Guys‘ Culture, Cuisine, and Colours free tour of Chinatown and Kensington Market.

Monday: Ride the ferris wheel on the CNE's last night.

Monday: Ride the ferris wheel on the CNE's last night.

Monday, September 7
Recognize and celebrate workers’ efforts and rights at the Labour Day Parade. This year’s theme is “Good Jobs For All.”

Get a glimpse into the indulgent diversions of the affluent people of Zabid in the Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibition, Coffee & Smokes in Medieval Yemen. (Take the kids—each child for every adult gets free admission to the ROM this weekend!)

The Canadian National Exhibition closes today, so it’s your last chance to down a bag of mini doughnuts, catch an illusionist show, and view the sun setting over the city from atop a ferris wheel.