The Weekender: Lang Lang, Mary Poppins and six other things on our to-do list

The Weekender: Lang Lang, Mary Poppins and six other things on our to-do list

The Weekender: Black Star, Lang Lang and Grace Kelly= 

1. LANG LANG BEETHOVEN SERIES
Lang Lang—a 29-year-old Chinese piano prodigy and one of Time’s most influential people of 2009—is in Toronto for a 10-day engagement. He takes on all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos, plus works by Mendelssohn, Smetana and Martinů, and he will be premiering a piece by Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng. November 9 to 19. $49–$179. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 416-872-4255, roythomson.com.

2. MARY POPPINS
Forgive the bad Farrelly brothers reference, but there’s something about Mary (Poppins). This classic children’s tale has gone from a book series to a popular Disney movie to a Tony-winning musical (for set design), which we’re very excited to see. Don’t judge—as if the opening notes of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” don’t get you humming, too. From Nov. 10. $38.50–$185. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 416-872-1212, mirvish.com.

3. LOVE LIES BLEEDING
Choreographed by the Alberta Ballet’s artistic director Jean Grand-Maître and featuring 14 of Elton John’s biggest hits, this boundary-pushing ballet features jazz, aerialists, a roller skating routine, and is anchored by thoroughly modern subject matter (“the cult of celebrity and the triumphs and challenges of superstardom”). To Nov. 12. $48.10–$186.60. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E., 416-870-8000, ticketmaster.ca.

4. BLACK STAR
This conscious hip-hop outfit, a collaboration between a couple of guys named Mos Def and Talib Kweli (maybe you’ve heard of them?), formed shortly after the deaths of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. The rap world was trying to come to terms with the consequences of the East Coast/West Coast rivalry, and the time was right for the emergence of another kind of rap. Black Star only released one self-titled album, but now, to the delight of hip-hop heads everywhere, Mos and Talib are back together. An album is in the works for next year, but until then this reunion show will more than do. Nov. 12. $40. Kool Haus, 132 Queen’s Quay E., 416-870-8000, ticketmaster.ca.

5. CAPTURE THE FLAG (FREE!)
What better way to spend a Saturday night than teaming up with like-minded Torontonians and bolting through the Financial District and PATH network using whatever means necessary to capture the enemy team’s flag? Brought to you by the same people who staged such spectacles as the mass pillow fights and bubble battles. Nov. 12. Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W., newmindspace.com.

6. REEL ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL
This 15-year-old celebration of Asian cinema features picks from across Asia and the world, including everything from timely dramas (check out this weekend’s The Journals of Musan, about North Korean refugees struggling to adapt to life in Seoul) to anime (Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos, the second film based on Hiromu Arakawa’s popular manga series) to sweeping epics (Pearls of the Far East, about the forbidden loves of seven Vietnamese women, spanning several generations). Industry workshops, artist talks and special events (like this weekend’s live music showcase, featuring San Fran musician Goh Nakamura) are also on offer. November 8 to 19. Festival passes $80, regular ticket $5–$20. Various locations, reelasian.com.

7. GRACE KELLY: FROM MOVIE STAR TO PRINCESS
For the princess in us, this rare glimpse into the life of a style icon is just too good to pass up. Featuring snippets of Grace Kelly’s wardrobe, including frocks (an entire section is devoted to her wedding gown, with a replica on display), her tiara, excerpts from childhood scrapbooks and high school yearbooks, personal letters and telegrams from Prince Rainier, this exhibit is both a tribute to a woman who got to live two common girlish dreams (she became a movie star and a princess), and a veritable treasure trove of style tips. To Jan. 22, 2012. $15. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., tiff.net.

8. TORONTO SKETCH COMEDY FESTIVAL
The laughs will be coming fast and furious at this annual comedy event. The lineup of sketch troupes heavily favours Toronto: the hilarious all-female troupe She Said What; the very established The Second City; and Two Kids One Hall (with Scott Thompson and Kevin McDonald from Kids in the Hall). But the rest of Canada and our neighbors to the south are fairly represented, too. Expect plenty of new material, plus remounts of full-length gags like The Second City’s Dreams Really Do Come True (and Other Lies). To Nov. 13. $15­­–$29. Various locations, torontosketchfest.com.

(Images: Mos Def, Stephanie Bouzard; Lang Lang,World Economic Forum; Grace Kelly, Supplied)