The National Ballet’s Pinocchio, a sketch-comedy fest and seven other things to do this week
A trip to the Land of Toys
The National Ballet follows up its previous world premiere—the ethereal Little Prince—with another twist on a classic kids’ tale: Pinocchio. The choreography is bouncy and romantic, the costumes are dazzling and the Land of Toys is appropriately terrifying, but the best reason to go is Skylar Campbell, the irrepressible first soloist who’s dancing the title character. Campbell, a 25-year-old former skateboarder from Laguna Beach, is too boyish for the company’s imperious princely roles, but his springy athleticism is ideal for the mischievous marionette: he’s impish and compact, with a head of red curls that would make even Archie Andrews jealous. Saturday, March 11 to Friday, March 24. $65–$265. Four Seasons Centre for the Arts, national.ballet.ca.
An interview with Paul Feig
This Friday, Kid in the Hall Bruce McCulloch will interview fellow funny man Paul Feig about the juicy stories behind the films and TV shows he’s directed or written: Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters, The Office, Freaks and Geeks. The Q&A is on of the highlights of the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, a 12-day romp that also includes a short-film fest, a live newscast by The Beaverton team, and plenty of nightly improv. To Sunday, March 12. Prices vary. Various locations, torontosketchfest.com.
A glimpse of the magic behind Canada’s finest graphic novelist
Seth is one of today’s most recognizable graphic novelists, melding a retro-cool aesthetic (think early New Yorker meets Winsor McCay) with a melancholy sense of humour. This retrospective exhibition centres on the Guelph artist’s seminal Palookaville series, 22 comics about a fictional Ontario town and the loners and lost souls who inhabit it. Comprising a quarter century of Seth sketches, the show documents his artistic process and how his own experiences have crept into his frames. To Sunday, March 19. Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives, pama.peelregion.ca.
A bloody family feud
Modern Times and Aluna Theatre’s take on Blood Weddings was one of the best plays of 2015, taking home six Dora Awards for its excellent direction, set and costumes. It taps a diverse cast—12 actors from 12 different cultural backgrounds—to bring to life Federico García Lorca’s classic Spanish tale about brutal family vendettas and a runaway bride in a dreamy, mythical world. To Sunday, March 19. $15–$20. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, buddiesinbadtimes.com.
A pair of hyper-local photography shows
In their new show, Focus on Gerrard, the six members of the local photography group 6ix Clicks Collective have assembled a Humans of New York–style scrapbook of east-end personalities. The show pairs vibrant portraits with first-person accounts of how the Gerrard East and Little India community has changed over the years. Next door, in an adjoining gallery, the collective shows its shots of the larger city—the waterfront, Yonge-Dundas Square and beyond—in a second show, Focus on Toronto. Opening night is Thursday, March 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. To Friday, March 31. Riverdale Gallery, riverdalegallery.com.
An East Coast whale tale
In 2014, nine endangered blue whales were stranded in the ice off the shore of Newfoundland and died—a loss for Mother Nature, but a boon for science. The ROM assembled a team to venture east and recover the carcasses of two whales that had washed ashore. What they gathered is one of the largest, most complete skeletons in the world, and it’s the centrepiece of the museum’s newest exhibition, Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story. Through photography, videos and new research gleaned from the expedition, the show details the lives—and deaths—of the whales and what’s being doing to protect their species. Opens March 11. $30. ROM, rom.on.ca.
A dazzling shadow-puppet play
Feathers of Fire is a family-friendly fantasy that purports to be the most elaborate shadow-puppet play ever produced: with 160 different puppets (royals, dragons and mythical creatures), more than 100 backgrounds (castles, oceans and forests), it’s certainly no amateur flashlight-and-bedsheet affair. Based on the 10th-century Persian poem Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), the show combines original music, cinema and theatrical charm to tell the story of Zaul and Rudabeh, forbidden lovers who triumph over enormous odds. Friday, March 10 to Sunday, March 12. $45–$85. Toronto Centre for the Arts, tocentre.com.
A fictional artist’s real paintings
Sophie La Rosière, a brilliant but reclusive 19th-century artist, painted nearly 300 works from her cottage in the Parisian suburb of Nogent sur Marne. She also never existed. La Rosière is the fictional alter ego of Canadian-German artist Iris Häussler, who has spent several years dreaming up an elaborate mythology—last year, she reconstructed La Rosière’s fictional studio, right down to the tattered Persian rugs, and hired real conservators from the Louvre to analyze and X-ray her works: vibrant, electric florals that get their first-ever showcase this month. Thursday, March 9 to Saturday, April 29. Daniel Faria Gallery, danielfariagallery.com.
A jazzy Japanese rock show
Japanese post-rock trio Mouse on the Keys has an unusual lineup (two keyboard players and a drummer) and an even more eccentric sound: peculiar chord progressions, tricky rhythms, hyperactive percussion worthy of a math-metal band. Onstage, they pair their music with frenetic projections of Tokyo and abstract animations for an immersive audio-visual phantasmagoria. Wednesday, March 8. $29.50–$34.50. Harbourfront Centre Theatre, masseyhall.com.
Never Miss Another Great Event
An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Blood Weddings is set in rural Ontario in the 1930s.