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What to see and do in Toronto this week: Aug. 25 - 31

Twenty-five-year old orangutan Budi interacts with children outside her enclosure at the Toronto Zoo.

Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

ART & MUSEUMS

Rule Britannia!

There was a time when the sun never set on the British Empire, which meant, among other things, that it was always afternoon tea-time somewhere. An exhibition of pots, mugs, and bone china captures a 400-year social history of the cuppa-loving imperialists. To Sept. 16, daily. $6 to $12. Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen's Park, 416-586-8080.

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Gaia

The first man to wear a clown nose into space has come back with a series of large-scale photographs taken from the Russian module Soyuz. Guy Laliberte's exhibit, Gaia, proves that his artwork is only a fraction as whimsical as the photographer himself – but just as captivating. Free. Thompson Landry Gallery, 32 Distillery Lane. thompsonlandry.com

DANCE

Just Dance

They have been voted Best of Nuit Blanche. Now's your chance to see their work without staying up until 3 a.m. Kaeja d'Dance presents five new works created with and danced by residents of Jane and Finch, choreographed by professional dance artists, and presented in the neighbourhood that inspired it. Free. Aug. 25 and 26, Oakdale Community Centre, 350 Grandravine Dr. 416-516-6030. kaeja.org

CONCERTS

A Synonym for Love

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Handel's operatic cantata about a love triangle receives a contemporary libretto in a sight-specific production that finds a baroque orchestra and three singers moving about the rooms, halls and barrooms of the Gladstone Hotel. The interesting Ross Manson directs. To Aug. 31, 7 p.m. $30 to $47. 1214 Queen St. W., 1-800-838-3006.

THEATRE

The Corpse Bride

It was a fatal attraction way before Glenn Close got involved: The old-timey shtetl folktale The Corpse Bride comes to life again with the help of Theatre Panik, who are mounting a darkly comic theatrical production, featuring live music and projections, as part of Harbourfront's Ashkenaz festival, the largest celebration of global Jewish music and culture in Canada. Aug. 30, 8 p.m. (to Sept. 2). $25 in advance; $30 day of. EnWave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay W. ashkenazfestival.com

Backbeat

It wasn't Beatlemania yet, but things were crazy enough. A West End musical, based on the 1994 film of the same name, captures the pre-fabulous foursome (plus ill-fated original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe) playing rock 'n' roll cover tunes in the rough red-light district of Hamburg. To Sept. 2. $36 to $130. Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. W., 416-872-1212.

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EVENTS

Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-off

With the Olympics over, you'll have to make do with cheering on your favourite of four chefs from across the country, such as Oliver & Bonacini's Jason Bangerter, as he takes on the classic grilled cheese. The battle for culinary supremacy will see each create two original recipes to be rated by a panel of lactose-tolerant experts. Aug. 29, 11 a.m. Free with admission to the Ex. CNE Direct Energy Centre, Hall A.

Fan Expo

When the Smoking Man meets Skully, will sparks fly? The X-Files actors will both be in town for FanExpo, along with Levar Burton, Christopher Lloyd and many others who spangle the sci-fi skies. It's not just autograph sessions though: Other events include speed dating, an introduction to LARP and steampunk building sessions. To Aug. 26. Sat. 10-7, Su n. 10-5. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building, 222 Bremner Blvd. fanexpocanada.com

COMEDY

We've Totally (probably) Got This

Have a beer, avoid eye contact and play spot the next Tina Fey (or Stephen Colbert) as storied mothership of comedy the Second City rolls out its Fall 2012 Mainstage Revue. Whip-smart new sketches, songs and improv are guaranteed. Jazz hands? Not so much. Aug. 28 to Dec. 30, 8 p.m. $24 to $29. The Second City, 51 Mercer St., secondcity.com.

FAMILY

Orangutan Awareness Weekend

It's 11 a.m., do you know where your orangutan is? It's at the Toronto Zoo (the only Canadian home of the critically endangered Sumatran variety), which celebrates the kindly beasts with a primate party, including an interpretive station, auction and display of artwork painted by what must be one of the more talented 'tans of the bunch. Aug. 25 and 26, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free with zoo admission. Indo-Malaya Pavilion and the Conservation Connection Centre. torontozoo.com.

Buskerfest

Street performers (no doubt including some sort of robotic, spray-painted Elvis Presley person) entertain, literally, at the drop of a hat. Aug. 23 to 26. (Admission is by voluntary donation to Epilepsy Toronto). St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, torontobuskerfest.com.

Canadian National Exhibition

What's that you say? A miniature horse competition? Ribfest? A Mardi Gras parade? All in one place? It could only be the CNE, the best way to get your seasonal dose of splash and trash without even leaving the city. Twas ever thus – this year marks its 133rd anniversary, so as you chow down on this year's novelty foods, remember: You're keeping tradition alive. To Sept. 3. $12 to $16. theex.com.

BOOKING AHEAD

Greenbelt Harvest Picnic

An absolute success with its inaugural concert a year ago, Daniel Lanois's Hamilton-area picnic of posies, music and locally grown produce is set among the trees of the Christie Lake Conservation Area. Sarah Harmer and Gord Downie (with the Sadies) return, with Feist and Emmylou Harris added to the list of 2012 talent. Clearly, the sound guru Lanois picks his performers with as much care as he takes with the heirloom tomatoes. Sept. 1, noon. $19.50 to $69.50. Dundas, Ont., harvestpicnic.ca or 1-855-872-5000.

CONTINUING

Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris: To Aug. 26. Art Gallery of Ontario, 416-979-6648.

A Midsummer Night's Dream: To Sept. 2. High Park Amphitheatre, 416-368-3110 or canadianstage.com.

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