The Weekender: Avenue Q, Super Bowl XLVI Party and six other items on our to-do list
1. AVENUE Q
This hilarious musical is part puppet show for grown ups—it’s essentially a Sesame Street parody—and part spot-on social commentary. What happens when kids are encouraged to believe they’re “special” and destined to do great things? They’re inevitably disappointed when it turns out they’re just like everyone else, as the sweater-vest wearing Princeton finds out when he graduates with a degree in English and no purpose in life. And if puppets for grown-ups wasn’t enough of a pull, the songbook includes gems like “The Internet is for Porn” and “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist.” Best. Musical. Ever. To February 5. $45–$60. Lower Ossington Theatre, 100A Ossington Ave., 416-915-6747, lowerossingtontheatre.com.
2. SUPER BOWL XLVI PARTY
We’re more into Friday Night Lights than actual football games, but even we are a little excited for this weekend’s Superbowl. We’re mostly in it for the snacks and Madonna’s halftime show, sure, but it could be fun to witness the epic throwdown between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. Instead of watching from a friend’s couch, this year we’re joining other football fans for this official, NFL-approved viewing party, which involves “visits from NFL personalities” (Tebow?!), a musical performance from Big Wreck and a “a sampling of NFL tailgate,” which sounds intriguing. February 5. $40. Sound Academy, 11 Polson St., ticketmaster.ca
3. LOVE AND RUMMAGE TRUNK SHOW 4 (FREE!)
Local vendors like Lemonade, Selena Wong and The Workroom (which is also playing host) offer up their crafty, vintage or otherwise rummage-able wares at this annual trunk show. Curated by The Workroom owner Karyn Valino and City of Craft co-founder Becky Johnson, expect handmade ceramics and textiles, paper crafts and a stocked snack table (last year there were cookies, brownies and all sorts of other sweet treats). February 5. The Workroom, 1340 Queen St. W., cityofcraft.com
4. TORONTO ROLLER DERBY SEASON 6 OPENER
The ladies of Toronto’s roller derby league are back for the 2012 season and they’re kicking things off with a double-header. The league’s rookie team, D-VAS (Deadly Viper Assassination Squad), battle it out amongst themselves for roller derby supremacy before the Gore Gore Rollergirls and Chicks Ahoy! recreate last year’s championship game, which saw the Chicks take home the Boot (by which we mean trophy). February 4. $18. The Bunker at Downsview Park, 40 Carl Hall Rd, Studio 3, torontorollerderby.com.
5. KUUMBA (FREE!)
Harbourfront has been celebrating Black History Month with this weekend-long festival for the past 16 years. Thematically, this year’s festival has been organized around two different, but connected, topics: looking at African roots from a 21st century perspective and the ways women have shaped black culture. Panel discussions and workshops abound, plus check out tons of film screenings, a Canada vs. USA comedy show and a Honey Jam reunion show ($10) hosted by Michie Mee and featuring Jemeni, Kim Davis, Kellylee Evans and Eternia. February 3–5. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., harbourfrontcentre.com.
6. LOVE FROM AFAR
Forgive the stereotype, but when we think opera, we think of the classics—most of which hail from Italy, Germany and France and were written more than a century ago. Of course, opera has evolved (read: our assumptions are wrong), and this much-lauded addition to the art form by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, based on a love poem by real-life 12th century troubadour Jaufré Rudel, will make its Canadian premiere this weekend. Directed by Cirque du Soleil alum Daniele Finzi Pasca. February 4. $12–$318. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., 416-363-8231, www.coc.ca.
7. GUILTY PLEASURES
We’re not sure we really feel guilty about our love of food or fashion, but we’ll go along with the name of this Drake Hotel/Fashion Incubator collaboration, so long as we get to partake. It combines a tasty, three-course brunch by chef Anthony Rose—including yogurt and baked goods, and a choice of cobb salad, eggs Caleb, mushroom quiche or blueberry pancakes—with excellent shopping. Think racks upon racks of clothes and accessories from Canadian designers like David Dixon and Wes Misener. February 4. $38. The Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042 ext. 1, thedrakehotel.ca.
8. ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATRE
This world-renowned modern dance company kicks off its annual North American tour in Toronto this weekend. Longtime Ailey favourites are on the lineup—yes, including Revelations—but it’s also an introduction to the new artistic director, Robert Battle, and will include performances of two of his own works: Takademe, a “deconstruction of Indian Kathak dance rhythms” and The Hunt, a contemporary piece about “the predatory side of human nature.” February 2-4. $33–$96.50. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E., 855-872-7669, ticketmaster.ca.