1. TORONTO INTERNATIONAL CIRCUS FESTIVAL (FREE!)
Acrobats, fire-eaters, stilt-walkers—it’s not just the kids who’ll love this three-day, big top–themed event. Performers from Zero Gravity Circus and other troupes pull out all the stops at Harbourfont’s annual circus festival this weekend, which also includes puppet shows, a hula hoop and a Lego funhouse. May 21–23. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., tocircusfestival.com.
2. ARIADNE AUF NAXOS
Who doesn’t love a good play within a play? Starring Canuck opera stars Adrianne Pieczonka and Richard Margison, this Richard Strauss opera is partially set on the ancient Greek island of Naxos, where princess Ariadne has been abandoned by the demigod Theseus, and partially set backstage at an opera house where that story is about to be staged. Think of it as a precursor to po-mo. To May 29. $65–$315. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., 416-363-8231, coc.ca.
3. INSIDE OUT TORONTO LGBT FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL
One of many film fests in the city, this one stands out as the first to promote and screen films “by and about the LGBT community,” which was no small thing when the festival began 21 years ago. This weekend, we’re looking forward to catching Martin Sastre’s Miss Tacuarembó, a satirical (and probably sacrilegious) flick about a Jesus-themed amusement park, where shooting at Judas is a midway game and the best ride is the Virgin’s Carousel. Also on the schedule is this Sunday’s family-friendly program, which includes A Family is a Family, a doc featuring Rosie O’Donnell; it will be accompanied by the adorable short Hens and Chicks, about a little girl who starts to tackle the logistics of her family after a friend explains how eggs become chicks. To May 29. $6–$13. Various locations, 416-599-8433, insideout.ca.
4. MONSTERS OF HIP HOP DANCE CONVENTION
We’re not at all ashamed to admit our anticipation for the return of So You Think You Can Dance Canada later this summer. The wait is made a little easier with this high-energy dance convention, which features performances by some of our fave SYTYCDC choreographers, like Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo and Luther Brown, among others. May 21–22. $35. Westin Harbour Castle, 1 Harbour Square, monstersofhiphop.com.
5. PAUL BUTLER: SELECTIONS AND DEPARTURES (FREE!)
Multidisciplinary artist and Winnipeg native Paul Butler has received acclaim from far beyond his hometown. He’s particularly known for his travelling studio, where he hosts Collage Parties, teaming up with other artists to create elaborate, cut-and-pasted contemporary art pieces. This exhibit only features work by Butler, but it’s all inspired, in one way or another, by past Collage Parties. Take, for example, Readymade (Flame), which is made of unused scraps from previous gatherings. To June 4. Artwork $800–$6,000. Jessica Bradley Art and Projects, 1450 Dundas St. W., 416-537-3125, jessicabradleyartprojects.com.
6. ITZHAK PERLMAN
Itzhak Perlman is one of only a handful of classical superstars with name recognition outside the concert hall. He’s performed for presidents and royalty, but he’s also done guest spots on Sesame Street and performed with The Roots. For this concert, he’s multi-tasking, playing violin and conducting the TSO in a program that includes three pieces by Mozart and Dvořák’s New World Symphony. May 21. $49–$189. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 416-593-4828, tso.ca.
7. THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Already a smash hit in London’s West End, The Railway Children made its North American debut in Toronto earlier this month. Set during England’s Edwardian era, it is about three children—Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis—who make friends with a small town railway porter after they’re sent to live in a tiny cottage in Yorkshire when their father is thrown in jail on trumped-up charges of espionage. Obviously, trains play an important role in the story, hence its performance in the purpose-built Roundhouse Theatre, which can accommodate a real, 86-tonne vintage steam engine. To September 4. $25–$99. The Roundhouse Theatre, 255 Bremner Blvd., 416-872-1212, railwaychildren.ca.
(Images: Pieczonka, Michael Cooper; D’umos, Kristin Dos Santos; A Family is a Family, Inside Out)