A Coal Mine Christmas
Given that Coal Mine Theatre has never presented a Yuletide production before, you might say the company's first festive effort is a canary in a Coal Mine. (You might say that, but you probably shouldn't.) A Coal Mine Christmas features a dramatic reading of Dylan Thomas's iconic poem A Child's Christmas in Wales by the great enunciator Kenneth Welsh and a curious holiday concert from the chanteuse and non-conformist Louise Pitre.
To Dec. 23. $35. Coal Mine Theatre, 1454 Danforth Ave., http://www.coalminetheatre.com/tickets.
Unfamous: The Works of Gary Taxali
A documentary on his work is titled The Art of Whimsy, he cashes cheques from The New Yorker regularly and he's been commissioned by everyone from the rock band Pearl Jam to the Canadian Mint. The OCAD-educated illustrator's zippy, vintage-styled pop art evokes an instant but vague nostalgia – perfect for this time of year.
To Jan. 27. Free. First Canadian Place Gallery, 100 King St. W., 416-862-6290 or http://myfirstcanadianplace.ca/events/calendar/category/art-exhibitions.
When Handel's Messiah premiered in Dublin on April 13, 1742, at the Musick Hall in Fishamble Street, the great composer himself directed the performance and the venue was packed so tight that ladies were asked "not to come with hoops" and gentlemen were implored to leave their swords at home. Though not strictly enforced by the period orchestra Tafelmusik, the conditions more or less stand today.
To Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m. $30 to $42. Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W., 416-408-0208 or tafelmusik.org; Sing-Along Messiah, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. $30 to $45. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255 or http://masseyhall.com/eventdetail/TafelmusikSing-Along.
While the weekly December shows of music and poetry and things in between mostly happen in the cellar-dwelling confines of the Dakota Tavern, the grandest revue takes place a few blocks away at the Great Hall. The performer list for the special salon is a moderately guarded secret, but attendees can expect a star singer who will dry-run a monologue, a witty playwright who is capable of just about anything and a summer-hot band that is the talk of the alt-rock world.
Dec. 22, 8:30 p.m. $33.50. Great Hall, 1087 Queen St. W., http://craft-shop.ca/basementrevue10. (Also, Dec. 29, at the Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave.)
What the Elf?!?
From the cotton-headed ninny-muggins of The Second City comes a satirical musical about an off-course tin soldier and his quest to find Santa's sleigh. In a show aimed at pip-squeaks and preteens, audiences young and old are encouraged to howl, dance and sing along to original songs, and an after-show improv segment only adds to an upbeat exception to the ho-ho humdrum of the season.
Dec. 17 to Jan. 1. $12 to $15 (family four-pack, $45). Second City, 51 Mercer St., 416-343-0011 or http://www.secondcity.com/shows/toronto/what-the-elf.