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Theatre

Review: King Charles III

Ted Cole and Gwynyth Walsh in King Charles III. Photo by David Cooper.

“The queen is dead. Long live the king.”

Playwright Mike Bartlett imagines a not-so-distant future in which Queen Elizabeth II has died and Charles is crowned king. Shakespearean DNA runs through the very core of the play, from the regal themes to the script written in blank verse. Charles (played Ted Cole) evokes a sense of Hamlet, while Prince William (Oliver Rice) and Kate (Katherine Gauthier) seem to be channelling the power-hungry Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Prince Harry (Charlie Gallant) and his friends evoke Prince Hal and Falstaff’s merry antics. There’s even a ghost (of Diana, played by Lauren Bowler).

Though billed as a “jovial political satire,” the play seems more sombre than wittily satirical. Problematic pacing contributes to a run time of almost three hours, draining much energy from the actors’ performances. Tweaking and tightening might have made King Charles III live up to the Bard’s blueprint for entertainment that is simultaneously amusing and thought-provoking.

The sets, designed by Kevin McAllister, are a real standout.

The cast of King Charles III. Photo by David Cooper.

Costume designer Christopher David Gauthier also deserves special mention.

Lauren Bowler in King Charles III. Photo by David Cooper.

King Charles III runs to Nov. 19, 2017 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.

Must-See Performances in November and December

NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER ARE FULL OF EXCITING PERFORMANCES FROM BALLET TO ACROBATICS TO MAGIC, AND MORE  

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The 7 Fingers Cuisine and Confessions merges acrobatics with the art of cooking. Photo by by Alexandre Galliez.

Mirvish Productions, Toronto’s largest theatre company, is closing out 2016 with a program of more esoteric—yet still ambitious—shows to complement its typical grander-scale fare. The 7 Fingers Cuisine and Confessions (November 1 to December 4), for instance, blends acrobatics and cooking in a theatrical feast for the senses, while Fight Night (November 4 to 20) concocts an immersive exploration of democracy—just in time for the fireworks of the U.S. presidential election. And there’s more spectacle to be found in The Illusionists (starts December 13), which features awe-inspiring tricks by seven of the world’s top magicians.

Aligator Pie, Soulpepper

Soulpepper’s Alligator Pie is fun for the whole family. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The spotlight also shines on sleight of hand courtesy of Soulpepper Theatre Company and magic maestro David Ben’s Hocus Pocus (starts December 10). Equally inventive—and family-friendly—are Rose (December 16, 17, and 22), a concert presentation based on The World Is Round, a children’s book by Gertrude Stein, and Alligator Pie (starts December 27), an award-winning adaptation of Dennis Lee’s poems. 

And for more adult-oriented fare, turn to the Canadian Stage and Daniel MacIvor. His solo show, Who Killed Spalding Gray? (November 30 to December 11), combines the Canadian playwright’s uniquely disarming scripting with some of the titular character’s famed monologues in an interrogation of truth and fiction.

ENCORE PERFORMANCES

A pair of repertory remounts round out the National Ballet of Canada’s year-end slate—alongside its annual production of The Nutcracker (December 10 to 31), naturally. Most recently performed in 2014, James Kudelka’s Cinderella (November 12 to 20) offers a thoroughly modern interpretation of the age-old fairy tale, and later, the expressive Onegin (November 23 to 27)—John Cranko’s adaptation of the Pushkin novel, Eugene Onegin—aims for emotional and psychological nuance even while its dancers push the boundaries of what the human body can do.

Sharing the Four Seasons Centre stage with the National Ballet means that the Canadian Opera Company has for the time being ceded the spotlight, but the COC presents a great reason to return in 2017: its ever-popular production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (January 19 to February 24).

HITTING THE RIGHT NOTES

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Itzhak Perlman enchants audiences with his performances of beloved movie scores.

The popular music of previous centuries—that is, classical music—is always in vogue with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. But the venerated ensemble keeps up with the times, too, by presenting contemporary scores. Among this winter’s biggest tickets are Itzhak Perlman’s “Cinema Serenade” (November 22)—in which the famed violinist performs themes from films, including Cinema Paradiso, Sabrina and Schindler’s List—and screenings of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with live TSO accompaniment (December 1 to 3). Christmas classics also get an airing in variety show-style concerts hosted by Colin Mochrie (December 9 to 11) and Jann Arden (December 13 and 14).

Meanwhile, another hallowed musical institution hones in on jazz. The Royal Conservatory’s Koerner Hall schedule features the likes of Joe Lovano’s quintet with Afro-Cuban piano legend Chucho Valdés (November 9), a cabaret-style pairing of vocalists Laila Biali and Pilar (December 1), and explorations of the trio format with threesomes led by pianist Stefano Bollani, bassist Roberto Occhipinti (both November 18), organist Joey DeFrancesco and saxophonist Christine Jensen (both December 10).

—Craig Moy

The Play’s The Thing

By Janice Tober

Winnipeg has long been known for its rich cultural scene, generating artists who dazzle the world with creativity in both the visual and performing arts. It is our theatre scene, however, that wins Winnipeg the cultural crown.

In a city home to the country’s oldest English regional theatre, as well as Canada’s longest-running French company, theatre is ingrained in the hearts of Winnipeggers who grow up experiencing thought-provoking plays produced by these venerated institutions. It is these early companies that have emboldened aspiring artists to create theatre groups of their own, in all shapes and sizes. WHERE Winnipeg offers a sneak peek of the plays that promise to be the most talked-about dramas, inspiring stories and laugh-out-loud comedies of the 2016/17 season.

RMTC

Royalty Lives Here

Winnipeggers often look to the city’s most prominent stage, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, to keep them entertained. It is the only theatre in Canada to receive royal designation, and is housed in a stunning Brutalist-style building in the Exchange District that commands respect. With a 58-year history, the company has a record of producing plays that hit the mark with audiences.

Steven Schipper, the company’s Artistic Director, states, “planning seasons is the only thing that I don’t delegate,” as he works to find plays that appeal to Winnipeg’s sophisticated artistic palate.

RMTC’s season opener, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (adapted by Simon Stephens), is a co-production with Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre. This Tony Award-winner, based on Mark Haddon’s bestseller of the same name, begins when fifteen-year-old Christopher is accused of killing his neighbour’s dog. The story follows Christopher, diagnosed with autism, as he works to clear his name and solve the mystery on his own. A strong and stimulating choice, this coming-of-age tale exposes Christopher’s vulnerabilities as well as his strengths with insight and humour. The show runs from Oct 20 to Nov 12.

Just down the street from RMTC is its second stage, the Tom Hendry Warehouse. With its own full season curated by Schipper, the Warehouse focuses on works that are more provocative and controversial than those seen on the mainstage.

The season begins with another play based on a novel: My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok. Running Oct 13-29, Aaron Posner’s stage adaptation is a thoughtful meditation on how an artist and his or her work can be driven by a compulsion that threatens both family and tenets once held dear. This co-production with Montreal’s Segal Centre is well-suited to the Warehouse’s smaller space where theatregoers are close to the drama unfolding in front of them. “It’s a perfect play for our intimate Hendry Theatre,” says Schipper. “Audiences embrace work that touches, challenges, and entertains, while asking important questions about how we may best live our lives.”

Courtesy Theatre Cercle Moliere

Courtesy Theatre Cercle Moliere

Multiculti Stages

Winnipeg’s multicultural makeup is mirrored in the city’s arts groups. In St Boniface, signs and snippets of conversation en français are reminders that French voyageurs settled here, and it is Théâtre Cercle Molière—the oldest French theatre in Canada—that best reflects this distinct Francophone community.

Geneviève Pelletier, Cercle Molière’s Artistic and General Director, chose to open the season with Et que ça saute!, an original piece by Winnipeg playwright, Danielle Séguin-Tétreault. Pelletier says she wanted to “kick off the season with a real side splitter,” and, with a title that translates to mean, “And make it snappy!” expect fast-paced dialogue and quick comedic timing. Centred around five people in an apartment building who are all searching for something in their lives, the play takes the audience through what Pelletier calls “the twists and turns of a day gone wrong.” The play opens on Oct 13 and runs until Oct 29 with simultaneous translation on certain dates.

In the late 19th- and early-20th centuries Winnipeg welcomed many Jewish immigrants and settlers to the city, many of whom helped create its arts institutions. The Winnipeg Jewish Theatre had its inaugural season in 1987 and has a history of showcasing original plays by some of Canada’s top playwrights—such as work by Winnipeg-born Vern Thiessen, recipient of the Governor General’s award for his moving drama, Einstein’s Gift—that highlight and lay bare the Jewish experience with emotion, comedy and accrued insight.

Running from Oct 27-Nov 6, the 2016 season opener is the Canadian premiere of Another Way Home by Anna Ziegler. Set in the summer during visiting day at Camp Kickapoo, on the surface Another Way Home is simply a witty story that catches parents in the midst of escalating conflict with their son, Joey. But amidst the barbs, the play examines what it means to be a family desperately trying to deal with a troubled son.

Courtesy Soul Pepper Theatre Company

Courtesy Soul Pepper Theatre Company

Bring the Kids

Manitoba Theatre for Young People evolved from Actor’s Showcase, an amateur theatre group that offered training for local talent, and grew with a new mandate to become one of the most respected stages in Canada for its creative, built-from-scratch productions and innovative children’s programming. Since its beginnings in 1982, the company has never rested on its laurels, winning its first award in 1992—the Canadian Institute of the Arts for Young Audiences Award—before earning a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production in the Theatre for Young Audiences category in 2007.

The 2016 season opens with Alligator Pie (running Oct 26-Nov 6), an original Dora Award-winning production by Toronto’s Soulpepper company. “The whole play is built around the beloved poems of Dennis Lee,” comments Pablo Felices-Luna, the company’s new Artistic Director, “so all of our fun is made possible through the work of an outstanding Canadian poet. And that’s how we wanted to launch, [with] all of the wildness you can experience at our theatre.” The play is full of infectious musical numbers and theatrical zaniness, but underlying the high-energy production is a message about the importance of friendship.

Courtesy Prairie Theatre Exchange

Courtesy Prairie Theatre Exchange

Go Grassroots

Since opening its doors in a ramshackle building in the Exchange District, Prairie Theatre Exchange has always been a small company rooted in the community. The theatre offered its rehearsal space to amateur groups and allowed them to perform on its stage between its own shows. Today, PTE is found in a downtown shopping centre, and it still belongs to Winnipeggers: in 2007 it opened its Playwrights Unit, where experienced and new local playwrights are provided with an office, the resources needed to put on a live reading or workshop, and input from fellow auteurs.

PTE continues its focus on work by Manitoban and Canadian artists with the play The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble, penned by Canadian playwright, Beth Graham. Running from Oct 12-30, the play centres on Bernice’s daughter, Iris, as her Mom calls the family together to announce that she has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. The emotionally heavy story can be challenging for audiences, but when asked about this selection for the 2016/17 season, Artistic Director Robert Metcalfe explains, “This play was nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 2015, and I love it because of its fundamental honesty and heart in addressing some very serious subject matter—including the unique relationship between mothers and daughters—and the choices we make, both in parenting and in life.” Metcalfe has no need to shy away from difficult work, knowing that the city’s erudite audience is up for the challenge.

(more…)

Niagara is for Everyone: Entertainment at the Falls

EACH YEAR, MORE THAN 12 MILLION PEOPLE VISIT THE NIAGARA REGION. THE EVER-POPULAR GLITZY MAIN STRIP, CLIFTON HILL AND IT’S THRIVING NIGHTLIFE SCENE CONTINUE TO DRAW (AND DAZZLE) VISITORS. 

Great Canadian Midway

The exciting Great Canadian Midway.

Dino Adventure Golf

Golf with towering dinosaurs at Dinosaur Adventure Golf.

Clifton Hill is arguably Niagara’s most colourful street, providing a touch of Vegas with its blazing lights, eclectic attractions and themed restaurants. Non-stop campy fun and plenty of stimulation can be found at the Great Canadian Midway, which has more than 300 games primarily of the arcade variety, as well as rides. The ‘Street of Fun’ as Clifton Hill is sometimes referred to, proudly claims two Canadian records: the Niagara Skywheel is the largest observation wheel sitting 175 feet above the falls, while the Dinosaur Adventure Golf is the largest mini golf attraction with 50 dinosaurs throughout the course, some of which stand more than 30 feet high. Take a selfie with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson at Movieland Wax Museum of the Stars, which pays homage to celebrities and beloved film characters like Harry Potter and Indiana Jones.

 

FV_Exterior_Aerial_View_with_Falls_in_Background

Fallsview Casino Resort has an unbeatable view.

Fallsview Casino Resort offers grown up stimulation by way of 3,000 slot machines, a dedicated poker room, and table games like blackjack and roulette. A 1,500-seat theatre hosts more than 250 shows   each year ranging from musicians and comedians to dance. Catch the likes of Jeff Dunham (May 19 and 20) and Flatley Lord of the Dance (May 25 to June 5), among other performances. Over at the Greg Frewin Theatre (5781 Ellen Ave., 1-905-356-0777), watch a magic show complete with a rare white Siberian tiger and exotic birds.

Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood are two popular chain restaurants in the area. The former is known for its musical memorabilia complete with a mural of rock stars, while the latter is dedicated to celebrities. The laid back vibe of Jimmy Buffet’s three-level Margaritaville with its island-themed decor is an ideal place for a burger, and of course, a slushy alcoholic beverage.

—Linda Luong Luck

 

 

RELATED NIAGRA IS FOR EVERYONE STORIES:

What to Do in Toronto: Festivals, Concerts and Events this October

THERE ARE ALWAYS SO MANY THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO. GET OUT AND ENJOY SOME OF THE MANY GREAT EVENTS AND CONCERTS TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE CITY THIS MONTH!

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

ALL MONTH LONG  Tony Award–winning musical The Book of Mormon is back at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The story centres on two missionaries who travel to Uganda in hopes of spreading the gospel but who experience a disconnect with the villagers who are dealing with AIDS, famine, poverty and war. Tickets are $49 – $200; visit mirvish.com for more information and to purchase.

ALL MONTH LONG This season at the Design Exchange, guest curator Jeanne Beker peeks into the wardrobes of iconic fashion designers and pulls out pieces that have made important political statements over the past 50 years for the exhibition “Politics of Fashion.” The striking garments lend both style and substance to longstanding ethical debates, gender issues, anti-war activism and more. General admission is $9.25 – $18.50; visit dx.org for more information and to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 3 Known for vibrant, thickly textured canvases that explore the physical and psychological connections between artist and landscape, artist Kim Dorland offers a series of new works for display at Angell Gallery. Expect pieces that continue to expand on the artist’s signature style and thematic concerns, further entrenching his position as Canada’s painter of record. Angell Gallery; 12 Ossington Ave., 416-530-0444. Open Wednesday to Saturday.

STARTS OCTOBER 12 Helen Lawrence, a new media production by visual artist Stan Douglas, mixes theatre, visual art, live action filming and computer-generated simulation in this story set in post-World War II Vancouver. Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., 416-366-1656. Tuesday to Thursday 8 p.m., Friday 7 p.m., Saturday 1 & 8 p.m., Wednesday & Sunday 1 p.m.; $30-$99; visit canadianstage.com or call 416-368-3110 to charge.

OCTOBER 17 TO 19 If you’ve ever longed to taste the recipes being made by TV chefs, the Delicious Food Show is your meal ticket. Whether you hunger for the inside scoop on trendy cuisine, advice on grilling the perfect steak, or simply a sinful chocolate cake recipe, celebrity chefs such as Tyler Florence, Chuck Hughes and Mario Batali have you covered. Join them, plus local chefs like DaiLo’s Nick Liu and Yours Truly’s Lachlan Culjak for a feast of workshops, cooking demos and food pairings. Direct Energy Centre, Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., general admission is $22; visit deliciousfoodshow.com for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 23 Giants of the literary world descend upon the waterfront for 35th edition of the International Festival of Authors. A global roster of 200-plus novelists, poets, essayists and more share their passion for the written word during 11 days of readings, panel discussions, interviews and book signings. CanLit darling Ann-Marie MacDonald, poet Dionne Brand, crime fiction novelist James Ellroy, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, Irish scribes Colm Tóibín and John Boyne, and critically acclaimed Emma Donoghue are among the expected participants. Harbourfront Centre, general admission $18 for most events; call 416-973-4000 or visit ifoa.org for a schedule and to purchase tickets.

Opera Atelier Alcina. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Opera Atelier’s Alcina starts October 23. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

STARTS OCTOBER 23  Sorceress sisters weave romantic entanglements in Alcina, the latest offering from Opera Atelier. In the company’s new, period-appropriate production of Handel’s 18th-century masterwork, the handsome Ruggiero finds himself on an island in search of the seductress Alcina; his true love, Bradamante, follows, disguised as a knight, and immediately draws the gaze of Alcina’s sister Morgana. But on this island of illusion, it’s true love that proves to be most magical. Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St., evenings at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.. Tickets are $38 – $181; call 1-855-622-2787 to charge or visit operaatelier.com for details.

OCTOBER 24 TO 26 Cask Days brings unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated brews to the masses, allowing breweries the chance to show off their hops. This year’s event has about 300 different cask-conditioned ales by 100-plus breweries from across Canada, the United States and the U.K., including Niagara Oast House, Nelson Brewery, Grizzly Paw, Microbrasserie Le Castor and Grand River Brewing. A special focus on California includes 30-plus breweries from the state. Not into ale? A number of ciders are available, too, as well as gluten-free beer options. Evergreen Brick Works, Friday 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 and up; see caskdays.com to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 Cirque du Soleil is back in Toronto, and this season the famed Montreal troupe presents a kaleidoscope of characters and objects in its latest travelling show, Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities. Under the big top, audiences are transported back to the 19th century to meet an inventor who’s able to defy time, space and even gravity—one spectacular scene even features an upside-down dinner party! Grand Chapiteau, 51 Commissioner St., Tuesday to Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 4:30 and 8 p.m., Sunday 1:30 and 5 p.m.; $50 to $160; visit cirquedusoleil.com to purchase tickets.

STARTS OCTOBER 29 Although the Toronto Raptors endured a heartbreaking end to their 2013-14 playoffs this past May, the Dinos have retained their core and begin a new season stronger than ever. Forward DeMar DeRozan, point guard Kyle Lowry and shooting guard Terrence Ross are among the returning stars who’ll take on the world’s best basketball players this fall. The Raptors start their new season at home against the Atlanta Hawks. Air Canada Centre, 7:30 p.m., $12.50 and up; call 416-366-3865 to charge.

ALSO THIS MONTH!

Cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei. Photo by Peter Holgerson, courtesy of World Press Photo.

The training regime of cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei, photographed by Peter Holgersson. Courtesy of World Press Photo.

TO OCTOBER 21 World Press Photo, the annual juried exhibition of award-winning photojournalism covering events and issues that impacted the world in 2013, is on display at Brookfield Place (181 Bay St.). Admission is free.

OCTOBER 3 The Blue Dot Tour with David Suzuki—promoting clean drinking water, fresh air and healthy food for all Canadians—comes to Massey Hall, with such special guests as Stephen Lewis, the Barenaked Ladies, Chantel Kreviazuk and Raine Maida. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 – $79.50. Visit bluedot.ca for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 4 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the annual all-night art affair, returns with more than 100 public installations, many of which invite visitors to be part of the works themselves. The free sunset-to-sunrise event expands into several new neighbourhoods, including Fort York, Chinatown and Bremner Boulevard, the latter of which hosts a magical night circus. Elsewhere, Máximo González’s installation, Walk Among Worlds, takes on political undertones by way of 7,000 beach balls to visualize first- and third-world states. Visit scotiabanknuitblanche.ca for a list of locations.

OCTOBER 5 TO 7 Part of the National Geographic Live series, award-winning photographer Steve Winter shares his experience travelling the globe in search of tigers, cougars and snow leopards. Tickets are $19.50 – $79.50. Roy Thomson Hall, October 5, 2 p.m.; October 6 and 7, 8 p.m. Visit roythomson.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 6 New York-based indie rockers We Are Scientists take the stage at The Horseshoe Tavern with guests Surfer Blood and Eternal Summers. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.50; visit horseshoetavern.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 7 TO 11 Award-winning actor, director and producer Ravi Jain and his mom Asha star in A Brimful of Asha, a family story about the search for the perfect bride. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill St., 416-203-6264.Tuesday to Saturday 9 p.m., Wednesday & Saturday 2 p.m.; $35-$55; visit soulpepper.ca or call 416-866-8666 to buy.

OCTOBER 8 Indie folk-rock chanteuse Cat Power brings her unique fusion sound to The Danforth Music Hall, 8 p.m. Tickets are $36; visit ticketmaster.ca or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 8 & 9 Pop singer-songwriter Jason Mraz plays at Massey Hall, with the show starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $55.50 – $75.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Russell Peters

Russell Peters is back bringing the laughs at the Air Canada Centre on October 9.

OCTOBER 9 Brampton, Ontario’s best-known export, Russell Peters, is back with all-new material in his latest headlining show, the Almost Famous World Tour. Hot on the heels of appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and Notorious on Netflix, Peters brings his trademark brand of wit and observation to what is sure to be a well-attended show—back in 2007, he was the first comedian to sell out the ACC. Air Canada Centre, 8 p.m. Tickets are $58.50 – $125.75; call 1-855-985-5000 or see russellpeters.com for information.

OCTOBER 10 Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Esperanza Spalding—who plays both upright bass and cello—brings her distinctive sound to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at Exhibition Place. Tickets are 49.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to charge.

OCTOBER 13 Aussie pop star Betty Who—made famous by a flash mob proposal video shot in a Home Depot that went viral—takes the stage at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club, with guests Joywave and Great Good Fine OK. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $19.50; visit livenation.com to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 14 A musical journey through the short-lived career of the legendary rock and roll pioneer, who died tragically in a plane crash, Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story features “That’ll be the Day,” “Peggy Sue” and “Everyday.” Various times. Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St., 416-314-2901. Tickets are $29 – $120; call 1-855-622-2787 or visit ticketmaster.ca to buy.

OCTOBER 15 Brit rock band Bastille makes a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre during their North American tour. Tickets are $34.50 – $42.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 16 TO 18 Bach and breakdancing may seem an unlikely combination—until you witness the Flying Steps, that is. The seven-member all-male dance troupe arrives in Toronto for one of two Canadian stops on its Red Bull Flying Bach world tour. Also featuring Swedish dancer Anna Holmström, this high-energy performance combines fast-footed jumps, head spins, jackhammers, hand hops and more choreographed to a live piano and harpsichord performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. Massey Hall, Thursday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., $25 – $70; call 416-872-4255 for tickets; see flying-steps.de for more information.

OCTOBER 18 Christine McVie rejoins her bandmates for a Fleetwood Mac North American tour, making a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. Tickets are $49.50 – $199.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 21 Bruce McCulloch, of Kids in the Hall fame, chronicles his life as a rebellious teenager in Alberta to her early days in Toronto to fatherhood in Young Drunk Punk. The show, presented by the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, combines stand-up, live music and anecdotes in the lead up to McCulloch’s new book Let’s Start a Riot: A Series of Bravery and Stupidity. General admission is $39; admission plus a copy of the book and a post-show reception is $55. Visit torontosketchfest.com or call 647-505-1050 to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 21 October is breast cancer awareness month, and Eat to the Beat provides a novel way to help. The 19th edition of this popular fundraiser for Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support has 60 of the country’s best female chefs preparing signature bites like duck breast on polenta cream, grilled cheese, brownies and pies. Local culinary favourites include Doona Dooher of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Trista Sheen of Crush Wine Bar and Bonnie Gordon of Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., $175 includes all food and beverages, 7 p.m.; call 416-778-6314 ext. 236 or see eattothebeat.ca for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 21 In the world premiere of The Bakelite Masterpiece, set in Holland following World War II, an artist accused of selling art to the Nazis must prove his innocence by painting a work by Johannes Vermeer in front of a prosecutor and art historian. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $48-$53; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 22 TO 26 The crafty and DIYers won’t want to miss the fall Creativ Festival, a massive consumer show bringing together sewing, quilting, beading, knitting, needlework, DIY decorating, crafting, scrapbooking and more. Workshops and seminars begin on October 22, while the Show Floor is open October 24 to 26, offering a chance to browse and buy a variety of goods, including fabrics, fibres, papers, beads, patterns, tools, books, kits and equipment. Show Floor hours are Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission for one day is $4 – $15, and a three-day pass is $25 ($5 for students with valid ID). Hands-on classes and seminars are an extra cost. Visit creativfestival.com for more information or to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 24 The ever-bold Irish singer Sinead O’Connor brings her incredible voice to Massey Hall. Tickets are $49.50 – $79.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Art Toronto

Art Toronto brings together contemporary art from around the world. Photo courtesy of Art Toronto.

OCTOBER 24 TO 27 The 15th annual Art Toronto, a modern and contemporary fine art fair, will feature more than 100 galleries from Canada and around the world. There will be a feature exhibition by Quebec-based collective BGL, as well as fair tours and expert talks. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W.; visit arttoronto.ca for ticket info and further details.

OCTOBER 25 Feist, Sarah Harmer, Jason Collett, Hayden, Lou Canon, Kevin Hearn and other musicians will come together for the first annual Dream Serenade Benefit Concert at Massey Hall in support of services for children with developmental disabilities. Tickets are $50 – $200; visit masseyhall.com or call 416-872-4255 to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 In the Henrik Ibsen drama An Enemy of the People, a doctor discovers that his town’s baths are contaminated and must decide if he should inform the public of the health risk or keep it to himself to prevent the local economy from collapsing. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $25-$48; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 27 Canadian synth-pop darling Lights brings her sparkling tunes to The Danforth Music Hall with special guest Rush Midnight. Tickets are $35; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

Theatrical Event Metamorphoses Opens this Week

Set in and around a large swimming pool, Metamorphoses examines the consequences of our deepest desires.

Myths come to life in a new, fascinating show at the National Arts Centre. Metamorphoses, based on the Myths of Ovid, is set in and around a massive swimming pool, adding a unique element to this theatrical event that will let audiences experience the consequences of our deepest desires. Mary Zimmerman reimagines 10 classical myths to achieve this end, including Midas and his impulsive greed, and Orpheus’ attempt to rescue his bride from the Underworld.

Metamorphoses runs from Jan. 29 to Feb. 16 at the National Arts Centre.

Hot Date: Andrew Lloyd Webber Takes Us Back to Oz

The Wizard of Oz cast welcomes you to the Emerald City (photo: Keith Pattison)

STARTS DECEMBER 20  Don your ruby slippers and follow the yellow brick road to see the great and powerful Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of The Wizard of Oz! Featuring all the beloved songs of the original film, plus new music by Webber and Tim Rice, the lavish production follows Dorothy and her dog, Toto, as they wander through a colourful land that is definitely not Kansas. The blockbuster show also introduces a new star to the city’s stage, with the lead role being cast as part of a TV reality program, Over the Rainbow. Ed Mirvish Theatre, $35 to $175; call 416-872-1212 or click here for more information and tickets.  —Ana Taveira

Hot Date: Jekyll & Hyde Offers a Tale of Two Men

Deborah Cox and Constantine Maroulis star in Jekyll & Hyde the Musical (photo: Smallz and Raskind)

NOVEMBER 14 TO 18  A dangerous love story is at the dark heart of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical, which gives the Broadway treatment to Robert Louis Stevenson’s chilling parable of alter egos and mental torment. Starring Tony nominee Constantine Maroulis as the titular split personality, and Grammy-nominated singer Deborah Cox, the gothic tale featuring bold, passionate songs is sure to be a crowd-pleaser in Toronto before moving on to New York next spring. Ed Mirvish Theatre, $29 to $150; call 416-872-1212 or visit here for showtimes and to buy.  —Ana Taveira

A Halifax Holiday

Jeremy Webb's A Christmas Carol

Jeremy Webb returns as Scrooge in a Christmas Carol.

With its rich history and diverse population, Halifax has many beloved traditions and events to mark the Christmas season. The unofficial kickoff to Halifax’s holidays comes on November 17 with the Holiday Parade of Lights. This popular annual parade will draw some 100,000 spectators, so stake out a good vantage point early. The parade begins on Barrington Street, wending its way through the downtown, west on Spring Garden Road. There will be music, entertainment, floats galore and a visit from Santa Claus.

The action returns downtown on November 24, as Grand Parade square in front of City Hall hosts the city’s Christmas Tree Lighting. Once again, there will be family-friendly entertainment and a visit from St. Nick. If you miss that, you get a do-over on December 1. Drop by Sullivan’s Pond for the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting . The agenda includes a concert by Razzmatazz, fireworks and free rides on the Santa Claus Express Train.

As you’d expect, there are holiday concerts aplenty as well. On November 28, Cape Breton songstress Rita MacNeil performs her annual Christmas show at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue. Joined by pianist Frank Mills, she presents traditional holiday tunes.

And it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the return of two wildly popular annual productions by Symphony Nova Scotia. Running from December 7 to 13 is an elaborate production of The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s heartwarming story of a
little girl whisked into a fairytale land features performers from Halifax Dance and elaborate puppetry by Mermaid Theatre. Up next at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue is the Symphony’s annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. Guest soloists and the 80-voice Symphony Chorus give full impact to the Baroque masterpiece.

If you’re not in the holiday spirit by December 23, return to the Dalhousie Arts Centre for the annual Barra MacNeils Christmas concert. Another annual holiday favourite, this one pays homage to the province’s Celtic roots, as the Cape Breton group shares old-time music.

November and December are jammed with holiday plays and stage shows, too. The holiday show at Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street this year is Elf: The Musical. Based on the popular Will Ferrell comedy, it’s the fairytale story of Buddy. Raised as one of Santa’s elves, he discovers he’s human and heads to New York to track down his father.

On December 10, celebrations take a hilarious twist with Tis the Season. Cape Breton comedians Bette MacDonald and Maynard Morrison team up for a sidesplitting look at the holidays. If it never quite feels like Christmas until you see Scrooge, so drop by the Cunard Centre on December 13 for Jeremy Webb’s one-man performance of A Christmas Carol. After performing the show for several Christmases, Webb is an expert at bringing Scrooge’s uplifting tale to life.

Finally, say good-bye to 2012 and welcome 2013 on December 31 with the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations in Grand Parade square on Barrington Street. Beginning at 9:30 p.m., local TV personalities host a rollicking all-ages celebration, with live music and a spectacular fireworks display at midnight.

Long Weekend Roundup October 5 to October 8

Patricia Piccinini. Still Life with Stem Cells, 2002. Courtesy of the Artist.

Friday, October 5  If you’re looking for activities the whole family can enjoy this weekend, check out Fairytales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination at the Glenbow Museum. The exhibition is comprised of works by contemporary artists who are inspired by the fantastic stories and characters of myths, fairytales and science fiction in which the boundaries between human and animal are blurred. The exhibition includes approximately 60 paintings, photographs, sculptures and video works by contemporary artists from Canada and around the world. The exhibition will run until January 2nd. Tickets are $14 adults, $10 senior, $9 student and youth $9. 

Scared yet? Screamfest 2012 starts this weekend. Photo: Courtesy Screamfest.

Friday, October 5 and Saturday, October 6 This Friday and Saturday, check out the first weekend of Screamfest. During the month of October, Stampede Park transforms into a carnival of carnage. This Halloween festival includes six terrifying haunted houses, a renovated Bates Motel, indoor maze, rides, musical entertainment, food vendors and contortionists. Tickets are available at Ticketbud and range from $20 to $40. The event runs from 7 pm to midnight.

On Friday and Saturday, check out Soulocentric Festival 2012 at Vertigo Theatre. The festival showcases independent performing artists that are creating new and original solo works in dance, theatre, music and multi-media. Start times vary. To purchase tickets, call 403-221-3708 or visit the festival’s website. (more…)

The Culture Club: Halifax’s Cultural Institutions Return

Raoul Bhaneja plays all 17 parts in the Neptune Theatre two-hour solo production of Hamlet.

With Shakespeare, Vivaldi and the hottest young musical innovators, October sees a trio of cultural institutions return to Halifax.

With old favourites and new acts you have yet to hear about, Halifax has plenty to offer music and theatre fans this month. Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street, Atlantic Canada’s largest (and one of its oldest) professional theatres, kicked of its season last month with the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. A smash hit in London, the Victorian musical—by turns comic and macabre—is the tale of a wronged man, returning to London for an imaginative revenge on the judge who stole his wife and family. It runs until October 7.

Up next in Neptune’s Studio Series is a remarkable production of Hamlet. Canadian Raoul Bhaneja plays all 17 parts in the two-hour solo show, bringing Shakespeare’s tragedy to life in an energetic and technically flawless performance. Hamlet runs from October 9 to 21.
Back on Neptune’s mainstage, the month concludes with the latest work from acclaimed Nova Scotian playwright Daniel MacIvor. In Bingo, a group of adults return to their Cape Breton roots for their 30th high-school reunion. It’s a funny, thought-provoking story of friendship and growing up—and the nice guy finally getting the girl. See it from October 16 to November 4.

Music fans are also in for a great month in Halifax. After teasing audiences with small free shows during Symphony Week last month, Symphony Nova Scotia launches its new season with Haydn’s Creation at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue. For the first time in more than a decade, the Symphony and the Symphony Nova Scotia Chorus are tackling Haydn’s soaring, triumphant, ambitious composition. See it on October 6, with an encore on October 7.
The Symphony offers more for classical purists on October 14 with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Guest violinist David Stewart, former concertmaster of the Bergen Philharmonic, leads the orchestra through the baroque masterpiece. This show is at Saint Andrew’s United Church on Coburg Road.

Don’t think Symphony Nova Scotia is stuck in the past, though. This month it lends its considerable talents to the Halifax Pop Explosion, an annual festival of alt/indie music, showcasing emerging talents from around the world. On October 19, as part of the festival, West Coast folk-rocker Dan Mangan joins the Symphony for a unique
musical collaboration.

And with 150 bands playing at 18 different venues around the city, the Halifax Pop Explosion has much more to offer music lovers. Other highlights include Gianna Lauren and Al Tuck at The Carleton on October 16, Wintersleep at Olympic Hall on Hunter Street on October 18, and Mardeen at the Seahorse Tavern on Argyle Street October 20.

Triple threat tete-a-tete

Winnipeg is renowned as an arts and culture mecca, and a good portion of that reputation is attributable to well established and prolific music, dance and theatre companies. Where Winnipeg sat down with the tours de force behind the big three to learn what drives them to create and entertain. 

By Erin Bend

In a competitive modern entertainment market with an instant gratification YouTube mentality arts pillars Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Manitoba Theatre Centre and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet offer a modern nostalgic escape rooted in tradition. Settle in as the house lights dim and surrender your consciousness to the relentless imaginations of these three men.

Leading the WSO with passion

When selecting music for a WSO season, Alexander Mickelthwate considers classic factors such as country of origin (a healthy mix of American and Germanic is optimal) and a good blend of soloist performances for various instruments.

WSO Music Director Alexander Mickelthwate

During his tenure, the spirited leader has continued to honour the classics while simultaneously broadening the orchestra’s contemporary choices far past stagnant offerings of swing and Sinatra. Fresh collaborations with local bands such as The Lytics and The Waking Eyes, contemporary works enhanced by visuals,  and an Indigenous Music Festival have been titillating die hard orchestra fans and seducing new patrons.

A relative newcomer, Mickelthwate has fallen in love with Winnipeg and raves about its sophisticated arts audience. He hypothesizes its healthy arts appetite is an outcome of epic winters and Continental European ancestry.

His impassioned outlook has yielded outside acknowledgment—the WSO has been invited to play New York City’s renowned Carnegie Hall in two years.

Mickelthwate’s successes flow from the connection he’s able to create with audiences, “I think that music is pure emotion, if you really get into it. If you listen to a radio song it is really short, but if you go into a Tchaikovsky symphony, the music flows right to your emotional centre.”

Making theatre thrive on the prairies

“Planning seasons is really the only thing I do that I don’t delegate. I’ll consult, and I am forever doodling seasons,” Steven Schipper humbly admits. The MTC Artistic Director aims to challenge artists and enthrall audiences each year, within budget of course. Fully aware that not all folks equally savour Shakespeare, Schipper’s goal is to offer everyone’s favourite type of play at least once per season.

MTC Artistic Director Steven Schipper

He’s called upon to imagine the world’s zeitgeist two years in advance. The perfectionist recalls triumphing at this task only once, when a joyful playbill themed to buoy spirits coincided with an economic downturn.

Schipper shoulders the responsibility of being all things theatrical to the people of Manitoba, assessing this small market as a challenge he’s proud to rise to.

“It’s thanks to our forefathers and mothers who created institutions like MTC, RWB and WSO, and said ‘we are not going to be a stop on the road, we are going to create our own indigenous arts institutions’, and now generations later we are all thriving.”

One can see a direct link back to people who began these, the community that gave it life.

Assembling ballet’s parts

André Lewis take his creative cues from his surroundings: “I’ve always felt that Winnipeg has a romantic outlook on life.” He cites our open skies, great prairie lakes and medley of classic and modern architecture as elements that influence audience psyche. Also a level of tradition that remains from city founders’ European roots.

He designs the RWB’s seasons to achieve a cohesive balance among expressions of classic, contemporary, and broad-based appealing works, such as Dracula and Moulin Rouge. Accessible, big name ballets attract the broader audiences, which the RWB desires to transform into dance devotees.

Lewis fuels his artistic fire with the energy of other creatives—observing dancers and choreographers. “I’m not a creator myself,” he explains, “I don’t make ballets, but I sure know how to assemble people to do that. I’ve done it for 18 years.”

RWB Artistic Director Andre Lewis

The longevity of his passion mirrors the timeless form of ballet dance. Parameters define ballet as a style, and dancers try to improve within them, while other forms of dance like hip hop and modern are more idiosyncratic. This is why Lewis knows ballet is immortal, “Ballet is the lingua franca of dance in a way because each generation has been able to add to it.”

Winnipeg has been redefining music, theatre and art for generations and with the likes of these three artistic powerhouses driving the community we will be revelling in the magic of the arts for generations to come.