There is plenty to experience this year in the arts, from hilarious comedies and contemporary dance to operatic faves and visual exhibits
The North American premiere of Bigre hits the stage April 11 to April 28 at the Berkeley Street Theatre, a hilarious comedy about the disastrous unravelling of day-to-day urban life, inspired by comedic greats Charlie Chaplin, Jacques Tati and Mr. Bean.
Laverne & Shirley co-star Cindy Williams will be on stage for Drayton’s summer production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, a Tony Award winner for best musical, June 5 to June 22 at the Huron County Playhouse. Also on tap is Glory, playing at four of Drayton’s regional theatres (starting May 15 to June 8 at Hamilton Family Theatre Cambridge), the true story of Ontario Preston Rivulettes women’s hockey team, who in 1933 set out to prove that Canada’s favourite past time wasn’t just for men.
Two shows lead the way on Factory Theatre’s spring 2019 calendar: Angélique, written by Lorena Gale and directed by Mike Payette, a co-production of A Black Theatre Workshop and Tableau D’Hôte Theatre; and Beautiful Man, written by Erin Shields and directed by Andrea Donaldson. The award-winning Angélique musical play is based on the life of Marie-Joseph Angélique, an enslaved black woman known for her disdain toward her masters and servitude, who in the early eighteenth century was convicted, tortured and hanged for setting fire to houses in Montreal despite little evidence against her. Beautiful Man is a satire about the portrayal of women in film and television, and what happens when men become sex objects. Angélique runs April 3 to April 21, while Beautiful Man runs May 4 to May 26.
Ai Weiwei: Unbroken is on display at the Gardiner Museum until June 9, an exhibition that focuses on the influential artist, human rights activist and vocal critic of China’s government. The exhibit features a selection of his most iconic ceramics, and internationally debuts new work. His photographs, sculptures, ceramics, installations and public artwork often repurpose traditional Chinese forms and materials to comment on such social concerns as freedom of speech and migration. SMASH: Nourish on June 26 is a continuation of the popular showcase of unique artworks by leading Canadian artists, a summer art party hosted by the Young Patrons Circle.
Torque, a new international, contemporary dance series that explores current societal and artistic themes, created by female choreographers from around the world, runs until June 2. The performances represent humanity’s will to overcome resistance and crisis, and to survive and thrive against conflicting forces.
House of Mirrors takes over Exhibition Common at Harbourfront Centre from June 7 to June 23, a kaleidoscopic maze created by the Australian artistic duo Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney. Canadian theatre artist and puppet master Ronnie Burkett returns to Luminato with the world premiere of Forget Me Not at the Joey & Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, running from June 5 to June 23. Burkett handcrafted more than 100 hand puppets so audience members can play an active role in the production, a “call-to-arms for poetry and the enduring power of love.”
Photography and the Arctic is a discussion panel that will be held June 16 at McMichael Canadian Art Collection, examining the exhibition Louie Palu: Distant Early Warning (May 18 to Sept. 2). Photojournalist Palu’s series of photographs looks at the growing geopolitical tensions and changing life around Inuit communities in one of the world’s most extreme and challenging places. Palu and Sadie Quarrier, senior photo editor for National Geographic and photo editor on this project, will take part. The panel will be moderated by Sarah Milroy, McMichael’s chief durator.
Opera Atelier just announced its 2019/2020 season of Sinners and Saints first with a production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni running Oct. 31 to Nov. 9 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, and followed by George Frideric Handel’s The Resurrection (April 11 to April 19, 2020) at Koerner Hall at The Royal Conservatory. Both productions include a full lineup of Artists of Atelier Ballet, with choreography by founding co-artistic director Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg. Don Giovanni will feature American bass-baritone Douglas Williams in the title role. “This is a season we have been longing to do for a long time,” says Marshall Pynkoski, co-artistic director of Opera Atelier. “Two giants of the 18th century are juxtaposed with these two particular works through their wildly different views of morality. Who other than Mozart could write Don Giovanni as a comedy? Who other than Handel could have taken The Resurrection and turned it into an operatic pot boiler?”
SONY CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
Returning for its fourth Toronto engagement, from May 9 to May 11, Eifman Ballet’s celebration of the work and life of composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky has toured the globe to enormous acclaim since its premiere in St. Petersburg in 1993. The narrative uses state-of-the-art technology and features some of the composer’s most beloved symphonies and ballets, including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.
Two performances on Soulpepper’s calendar include Fool for Love and Art. Fool for Love, the celebrated work from playwright and actor Sam Shepard, focuses on the characters May and Eddie, former lovers who meet again in a motel in the desert. Fool for Love was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for Drama (and runs July 13 to Aug. 4). Art, a comedy about modern friendships, is a Tony Award winner for Best Play and a Laurence Olivier Award winner for Best Comedy, and runs Aug. 9 to Sept. 1.
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story runs at the Tarragon Theatre April 16 to May 26, a “genre-bending rock concert/theatre hybrid” written by Hannah Moscovitch and starring Halifax folk musician Ben Caplan. Old Stock is inspired by the real-life story of Moscovitch’s great-grandparents. Set in 1908 in Halifax, it’s about two Romanian Jews leaving injustice and tragedy behind, immigrants in the New World looking for a second chance. Tour stops include Halifax, Ottawa, Edinburgh, Edmonton, New York and now Toronto.
THE TORONTO CONSORT
The Toronto Consort presents Night Games as its season finale performance, May 3 to May 5, at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. Featuring works by 16th-century composers Orazio Vecchi and Adriano Banchieri, Night Games, under the artistic direction of Katherine Hill, brings together music, theatre and dance. “Night Games is an irresistibly hilarious, beautifully colourful and irreverent confluence of poetry, music, dance, and commedia dell’arte,” Hill says.
THOUSAND ISLANDS PLAYHOUSE
Thousand Islands Playhouse rolls out its 2019 season on May 28 with BOOM X, Rick Miller’s sequel to his show BOOM, which picks up at Woodstock in 1969 and makes its way through some of the iconic moments that shaped Generation X. Based on the award-winning memoir by Globe and Mail journalist Ian Brown, The Boy in the Moon is about a couple raising a child with a rare genetic disorder. Thousand Islands Playhouse has eight productions in its two venues in 2019.
TORONTO OPERETTA THEATRE
Running this month at Toronto Operetta Theatre is Austro-Hungarian Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow, featuring Lucia Cesaroni as Anna Glawari, who recently garnered great reviews at the Vancouver Opera as The Merry Widow’s title character. TOT’s new production runs from April 24 to April 28. Lehar’s score is filled with waltzes, foxtrots, polkas, can-cans, and The Merry Widow waltz, a celebration of true love in a world where class distinctions are blown away.
TORONTO SUMMER MUSIC
Toronto Summer Music, under the artistic direction of Jonathan Crow, celebrates cross-border influences and collaborations with its Beyond Borders festival, from July 11 to Aug. 3. Opening Night on July 11 at Koerner Hall will include performances by pianist Jon Kimura Parker, violinist Kerson Leong, pianist Steven Philcox and the New Orford String Quartet. Numerous performances follow over the summer, celebrating a range of influences on classical music from present day composers back to the times of Mozart. “Toronto is one of the most diverse cities on the planet,” Crow says. “Beyond Borders reflects the cross-cultural dialogue we all value so highly.”
Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s highlights for the spring include: Mahler Resurrection Symphony from April 17 to April 20, featuring Spanish guest conductor Juanjo Mena; and Queens of Soul on May 7 and May 8, where pops conductor Jeff Tyzik and a trio of singers team up to perform monster hits from some of the legendary divas of soul and R&B. The TSO’s next music director, Gustavo Gimeno, conducts The Firebird from June 28 to June 30.
Two upcoming shows at Young People’s Theatre include Under the Stairs, by Kevin Dyer, and Antigone, by Jeff Ho. YPT artistic director Allen MacInnis says Under the Stairs is a “wonderful show [that] fully embodies our season theme of young people taking things into their own hands to fix what’s wrong in their world.” Under the Stairs is a musical play in which the cupboard under the stairs becomes a magical place where young Tim seeks refuge from his mom and dad’s fighting. One day, in the cupboard, he finds he is not alone, and enlists the help of his new friends to help bring his family back together. The show runs on the main stage from April 1 to April 16. Antigone, running April 29 to May 16, is an adaptation of the classic Greek story that is inspired by the 2014 Umbrella Movement student protests in Hong Kong and the 1989 uprising in Tiananmen Square.
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