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Toronto Centre for the Arts

Hot Date: West Side Story Takes Toronto

MAY 8 TO JUNE 3 A tale of love amidst a turf war between two New York City gangs, the Broadway smash West Side Story needs little introduction. It’s been more than 50 years since its first performance and the classic take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim continues to mesmerize audiences with its dynamic dance numbers and timeless tunes, including the scintillating “America.” Toronto Centre for the Arts, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 pm, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 pm, $62 to $180; call 416-644-3665 or click here to buy.

Hot Date: Shrek’s a Green Monster

photo by Joan Marcus

MARCH 20 TO APRIL 1 Everyone’s favourite secretly affable green ogre is back at it in Shrek the Musical. Joined by the comedic antics of Donkey, the sharp wit of Princess Fiona and an extensive cast of fairy-tale characters, Shrek sets out to reclaim the deed to his land in an epic adventure featuring 19 all-new songs. The new production offers up stunning set design, rousing dance numbers and, of course, laughs for the whole family. Toronto Centre for the Arts, Tuesday to Sunday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2:30 p.m., $46 to $180; call 416-644-3665 or visit here to purchase tickets.

Hot Date: Salsa Meets Hip Hop in the Heights

photo by John Daughtry

FEBRUARY 7 TO 19 Toronto gets a dose of hot Latin flavour this month courtesy of In the Heights, a modern musical that honours Broadway traditions. Winner of four Tony Awards—including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Choreography—the production pulls audiences into the story of a Latino community in Manhattan’s Washington Heights district, and how the immigrant residents cope with life’s struggles while holding on to their dreams. Brimming with energetic salsa-meets-hip-hop music and beautifully choreographed dancing, it’s certain to get your head bobbing and feet tapping. Toronto Centre for the Arts, $40 to $135; visit here for more information and tickets.

Hot Date: Green Day’s American Idiot

photo by Doug Hamilton

DECEMBER 28 TO JANUARY 15 Punk rock gets the Broadway treatment as the hit musical American Idiot comes to Toronto. Based on the Grammy-winning 2004 album by Green Day, this modern-day rock opera tells of angst-filled youths caught between their dreams and the confines of suburbia. Conceived by bandleader Billie Joe Armstrong, this emotionally charged production combines Green Day’s familiar songs—“Jesus of Suburbia,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and more—with a dramatic story of longing, loss and redemption. Toronto Centre for the Arts, $62 to $180; call 416-644-3665 or visit here for showtimes and to buy.

Hot Date: Memphis Raises the Roof for Rock

photo by Joan Marcus

DECEMBER 6 to 24 The life of Dewey Phillips, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s pioneering disc jockeys, inspires a story of fame, forbidden love, and a rousing new style of music in Memphis. Follow the intertwined paths of a white radio DJ and a black club singer through the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, where the sounds
of soul, gospel, and rhythm and blues fuse together to create the anthems of a young generation poised to confront racial segregation in the American south. The 2010 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Memphis also features a Tony Award-winning original score with music by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan. Christopher Ashley directs the show, in Toronto for a limited run, while former Jersey Boys choreographer Sergio Trujillo crafts the musical’s exhilarating dance routines. Toronto Centre for the Arts, Tuesday to Sunday, $51 to $180; call 416-644-3665 or click here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Date: The Creepy and Kooky Addams Family

photo by Joan Marcus

NOVEMBER 16 TO 27 It’s every parent’s worst nightmare—your spiteful little princess of darkness has fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. It’s enough to throw The Addams Family into full crisis mode. Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, authors of Jersey Boys, bring this new macabre musical-comedy to life with creative consultation from four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks. Toronto Centre for the Arts, $62 to $180; call 416-644-3665 or visit here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Date: Working 9 to 5

photo by Joan Marcus

JUNE 29 TO JULY 10 Taking care of business—the musical way. Based on the 1980 comedy that launched Dolly Parton’s film career,
9 to 5: The Musical comes to Toronto with a Tony-nominated score by the queen of country music herself. Tired of their mundane jobs and chauvinistic boss, three female friends devise a cunning plan to take over the company where they work. It’s a plot many can relate to, and audiences are sure to applaud the charismatic characters as they sing, dance and scheme their way up the corporate ladder. Toronto Centre for the Arts,
$41 and up; call 416-644-3665 or visit here for showtimes and to buy.

Weekend Roundup, February 18th to 20th

Friday: Be enthralled by South Pacific's timeless love story (photo by Kim Ritzenhaler)

Friday, February 18
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved, Tony Award–winning musical South Pacific has returned to charm audiences at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. This timeless tropical-island tale follows four lovers who must overcome adversity against a backdrop of World War II.

The Canadian International Auto Show has rolled into town and parked at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Rev your engines while admiring the latest consumer, luxury and concept cars. Classic cruisers and environmentally friendly vehicles are also on display.

Get your eyes—and ears—ready: the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Juno Tour of Canadian Art opens today, to mark the 40th anniversary of Canada’s music awards. This innovative project pairs great Canadian art—as well as the AGO’s collection of Henry Moore sculptures—with tunes and commentary from Juno-winning musicians.

Saturday: See the seductive Saint Carmen of the Main (photo by Bruce Zinger)

Saturday, February 19
A Greek tragedy gets a Canadian twist in tonight’s performance of the Canadian Stage Company’s St. Carmen of the Main. This unique play Carmen leave Nashville and return to her roots in Montreal, where she sings of the hustlers and whores who attend her nightclub shows and sees those on the fringes of society become the heroes of her songs.

Classical music is always in fashion at Roy Thomson Hall, where the Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents masterworks by Brahms and Dvorak. Estonian conductor Eri Klas and Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman are featured in this evening’s performance.

The National Home Show has set up shop at the Direct Energy Centre. Don’t miss an appearance by interior design expert Debbie Travis today at noon, followed by a book signing. Afterwards, check out many other design and renovation features including a futuristic glass house built by Concept PolyHome.

Sunday: Jesse Cook's flamenco stylings heat us the Rose Theatre in Brampton (photo by Simon Law)

Sunday, February 20
Those who head to Brampton’s Rose Theatre tonight are rewarded with a lively performance by Jesse Cook. The Toronto-based nuevo flamenco guitarist has is renowned for his sensuous picking and strumming, showcased most recently on his Juno-nominated album The Rumba Foundation.

Experience the avant-garde as Los Angeles–based art collective My Barbarian offers its Post-Living Ante-Action Theatre performance at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Starting at 2:30 p.m., the show draws on current events and politics—and references avant-garde theatre collectives of the 1960s—to create an interdisciplinary work of art.

Sway to the sultry sounds of R&B-gospel-jazz vocalist Liz Wright, who performs music from her latest album, Fellowship, at Glenn Gould Studio.

Hot Date: South Pacific Serenade

Photo by Kim Ritzenhaler

FEBRUARY 15 TO APRIL 10 The power of love is tested by war and prejudice in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. Considered one of Broadway’s greatest musicals, its two parallel love stories deliver award-winning drama and serious social commentary against a backdrop of World War II. This revival, by New York’s renowned Lincoln Centre Theatre, boasts one of the largest orchestras of any touring production—all the better to accompany classic songs including “Some Enchanted Evening” and “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy.” Toronto Centre for the Arts, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m., $35 to $190; call 416-644-3665 or click here to purchase.