ART and MUSEUMS
Zhang Yaxin: Model Opera
Jiang Qing, wife of Chairman Mao Zedong, was the architect of the transformation from traditional opera produced in China to revolutionary or “model” opera, used in six Communist Party-sanctioned operas and two ballets to radically overhaul the country’s theatre art scene. On hand as the documenting photographer of the productions was Zhang Yaxin, whose works of Maoist pop culture are on display at the Stephen Bulger Gallery for the first time in North America. Jan. 26 to Feb. 23 (opening reception: Jan. 26, 2 to 5 p.m.). 1026 Queen St. W., 416-504-0575.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
The star trumpeter and best-known jazzman of his generation gives lessons in big-band flash and dazzle, backed by virtuosos in every chair for a program of classics by other composers as well as his own material. Jan. 30, 8 p.m. $39.50 to $99.50. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255.
His latest release is The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal (1969-1973), a celebration of the eclectic, big-hearted bluesman’s 70th birthday. A sample song is the athletic hubbub of You Ain’t No Streetwalker, Honey But I Do Love The Way You Strut Your Stuff , which was a perfectly acceptable compliment paid to single woman of the day, but now may seem a touch forward. Jan. 30, Sean O’Sullivan Theatre, St. Catharines, Ont.; Jan. 31, Rose Theatre, Brampton, Ont., Feb. 1, Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Burlington, Ont.
Cool venue, cool-headed singer – fans of chanteusery needn’t look any further. The silky, bilingual singer-songwriter Lily Frost enchants at the Painted Lady. Jan. 31, 9:30 p.m. $7 to $10. 218 Ossington Ave., 647-213-5239, ticketweb.ca.
A collaboration between playwright Judith Thompson and a cast of nine actors with Down syndrome draws theatregoers not only into the lives of the cast, but into a stimulating discussion. Jan. 28 to Feb. 7. $15 to $30. Young Centre, 50 Tank House Lane, 416-866-8666.
Every Letter Counts
Factory Theatre, glad that its embattled 2012 is behind them, opens its revamped season with a new drama from interim co-artistic director Nina Lee Aquino, who explores the legacy and lessons of the Filipino political icon Benigno Aquino, her uncle. Jan. 31 to Feb. 24 (previews Jan. 26 to 30). $22 to $42. 125 Bathurst St., 416-504-9971.
TRIBUTE: A Moving History of Canadian Blacks in Dance
Nine groundbreaking artists are celebrated with a diverse program that includes a Danny Grossman-directed remount of Inching , a piece associated with the late Charles (Dindi) Lidge. Feb. 1 to 2, 8 p.m. $18 to $28. Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000.
You think Toronto is bonkers now? For a five-week series of Wednesday-evening shows, a cast of wisecrackers give accounts of the city’s history that involves slums, combustible automobiles and arbitrary home-heating regulations. To Feb. 6, 8 p.m. $10 to $12. Comedy Bar, 945 Bloor St. W., 416-551-6540, comedybar.ca.
LITERARY and LECTURE
An idea that is long overdue: The public is invited to borrow a “human book,” which involves asking questions of such page-turning personalities as CBC radio producer Ing Wong-Ward, the Black Daddies Club founder Brandon Hay and the co-founder of the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada, Gabrielle Scrimshaw. Jan. 26, noon to 4 p.m. Free. Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St., 416-395-5577.
Come Up To My Room
With 25 installations involving 40 artists, we can safely say that the Gladstone Hotel is fully booked. A four-day festival of public-space projects, guided tours and outside-the-box room ideas take over the boutique lodging house. Jan. 26 (11 am. to 10 p.m.) and Jan. 27 (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.). $10. 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635, comeuptomyroom.com.
Family Literacy Day
They had us at “special appearance by Captain Underpants,” but the list of performers and readers also includes Robert Munsch, Wayson Choy and Objibwa storyteller Aaron Bell. Jan. 27. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $13 to $22 (OSC admission). Ontario Science Centre, 416-696-1000.