See the National Ballet’s biggest hit, catch Molly Parker onstage and eight more things to do this week
1. Revisit the National Ballet’s exhilarating Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Karen Kain’s supreme achievement in her tenure as the National Ballet’s artistic director was this extravagant full-length production from the superstar British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, originally staged in 2011. The ballet is a jewel-toned Victorian fantasy that blends classical romantic steps with futuristic multimedia installations—it never gets old. March 14 to 29. From $26. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., 416-345-9595, national.ballet.ca.
2. See a House of Cards star kill it on a Toronto stage
Molly Parker is everywhere this month: on Netflix, she’s back as the Faustian congresswoman Jacqueline Sharp on House of Cards, and onstage, she stars in Canadian Stage’s production of Simon Stephens’ Harper Regan, about a melancholy suburban woman on a picaresque road trip. In both roles, Parker plays the ice queen to perfection, radiating a stormy inner life under a porcelain exterior. To March 22. $30–$99. Bluma Appel Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts, 27 Front St. E., 416-368-3110, canadianstage.com.
3. See what it’s like when Martin Scorsese directs a movie that isn’t about gangsters
The director takes a break from muscular masculine epics for a glimpse into the inner workings of the New York Review of Books, covering the magazine’s history and continued relevance with thoughtful affection. The real reason to see it: intimate, candid interviews with some of the greatest literary luminaries of our time, including Joan Didion, Michael Chabon, Colm Tóibín and Zoë Heller. March 12. $11. Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-531-9959, revuecinema.ca.
4. Check out some trippy manga
Cultish Japanese illustrator Junko Mizuno has pioneered a singular form of gothic kawaii, which blends adorable manga heroines with deliriously disturbing erotic flourishes. Her latest show, Ambrosial Affair, focuses on food fetishism: her rosy-cheeked princesses are positioned as Kama Sutra goddesses, suggestively slurping noodles, sucking pomegranate seeds and sipping coffee. To March 21. Free. Narwhal Contemporary, 2104 Dundas St. W., 647-346-5317, narwhalcontemporary.com.
5. Witness the world’s best Justin Bieber impression
The big headliner at this year’s Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival is Kate McKinnon, the Saturday Night Live player best known for her uncanny, unsettling take on Justin Bieber. Other unmissables: the arch and absurdist Templeton Philharmonic; a weirdo horror show from the trio Tony Ho; and, reuniting for its 10th anniversary, the now-defunct sketch troupe Boiled Wieners, whose daffy musical stylings launched the festival back in 2005. To March 15. Various venues, 416-538-0988, torontosketchfest.com.
6. Hear Fashawn’s lyrical, Nas-endorsed rap
After paying his dues on the indie-rap circuit for the past five years, opening for people like Wiz Khalifa, Ghostface Killah and Talib Kweli, the virtuosic California hip-hopper Fashawn got his big break last year, when Nas signed him to his label, Mass Appeal Records. At the Drake this week, he performs tracks from his new album, The Ecology, layering nostalgic West Coast thumps and Afrobeat sounds over spry, lyrical storytelling. March 13. $15. The Drake Hotel Underground, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042, thedrakehotel.ca.
7. Take in Matt Bahen’s dark version of impressionism
The paintings from the Toronto artist, up now at Le Gallery on Dundas, are gloriously gimmick-free: just exquisitely detailed, rainy-hued landscapes that resemble a Gothic twist on French impressionism. The best pieces are grim and vaguely menacing—a swarm of starlings flocking over stormy waves, a murky swamp reflecting skeletal branches and a spiralling brushfire on a deserted beach. To March 28. Free. Le Gallery, 1183 Dundas St. W., 416-532-8467, le-gallery.ca.
8. Crash a bluegrass funeral
In 1915, the American poet Edgar Lee Masters published the Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free-verse epitaphs honouring the dead denizens of a fictional midwest town. Soulpepper’s ambitious musical director, Mike Ross, has transformed them into an ingenious theatrical experiment, setting the poems to twangy bluegrass melodies and positioning the audience as a congregation of mourners. The result is exuberant, folksy and totally inspired. To March 28. $80. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Ln., 416-866-8666, soulpepper.ca.
9. Pretend you’re in New Orleans with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Every night in the French Quarter, the tiny Preservation Hall nightclub thrums with Jazz Age symphonics from the eight-piece house band. The touring show trades the original venue’s shabby intimacy for the Rose Theatre’s acoustics: expect a mix of joyous spirituals, standards and, for the first time, original material from the band’s bluesy 2014 album, That’s It! March 13. $53–$63. Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Lane, Brampton, 905-874-2800, brampton.ca.
10. Party with hundreds of rabid Prince fans at the Bloor Cinema
His Royal Badness’s flashy 1984 fantasy rivals Rocky Horror for late-night sing-along supremacy—after a sold-out run last year, the Bloor is bringing the movie back for another raucous screening. Kicking off the evening is a Prince-themed dance party with music from DJ Moe Berg and $5 Steam Whistles; drink enough of those, and you’ll be dancing to “Darling Nikki” all night. March 14. $17. Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., 416-637-3123, bloorcinema.com.