The Weekender: A Christmas Carol, The Brothers Grimm and six other events on our to-do list
1. A CHRISTMAS CAROL
For the sixth time in his Soulpepper career, founding member Joseph Ziegler steps into Scrooge’s shoes in Michael Shamata’s energetic adaptation of the classic Dickens tale of a greedy curmudgeon who finds the true meaning of Christmas. In keeping with the play’s theme, each performance ends with a collection for The Stop shortly after the Cratchits receive their turkey (which, incidentally, is made of cotton, foam and glue). Dec. 3 to 29. $51–$68. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Ln., 416-866-8666, soulpepper.ca.
2. STUART MCLEAN AND THE VINYL CAFÉ CHRISTMAS TOUR
A three-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, Stuart McLean is the very epitome of Canuck-ism, with his aw-shucks persona and penchant for Maritime folk music. The Vinyl Café, his hour-long radio variety show, has long been a Sunday noon-hour staple for boomers. For this Christmas tour, he’s bringing with him regular guest musician Reid Jamieson, who’ll be backed up by The Vinylettes. Dec. 7 to 9. $48.35–$60.10. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E., 1-855-985-5000, ticketmaster.ca.
3. THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm may not be quite as famous as the characters they collected in Grimms’ Fairy Tales, but this family-friendly opera features the brothers as the main protagonists of the tale (with visits from some familiar faces, of course). Composed by Newfoundlander Dean Burry, it’s thought to be the most-performed Canadian opera ever (Friday’s show will be no. 500). The Brothers Grimm is performed in English and will be sung by the COC Ensemble Studio, a training ground for the COC’s next generation of stars. Dec. 7 to 8. $25. Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas St. E., 416-363-8231, coc.ca.
The National Ballet of Canada remounts its acclaimed Giselle (last done in 2009, with principal Chan Hon Goh dancing her final role) for a short run this week. The story follows Giselle as she finds herself betrayed by her lover, Albrecht, and kills herself in a fit of despair, only to come back to life and haunt those still living. Greta Hodgkinson and Guillaume Côté dance the lead roles on opening night, and Rex Harrington, now the company’s artist in residence, hosts talks on the first three nights. Dec. 5 to 9. $25–$239. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., 416-345-9595, national.ballet.ca.
5. THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA
This legendary gospel group is now in its 73rd year, with two of the original six members still alive and touring. Last year, they put out a well-received country-gospel album, and this tour, Go Tell It on the Mountain: The Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show, will feature bluesed-out holiday hits mixed with classics from the BB’s repertoire. Dec. 7. $39.50–$69.50. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 416-872-4255, roythomson.com.
6. HARBOURFRONT WINTER FAMILY WEEKEND (FREE!)
Harbourfront plays host to a seasonal festival celebrating the onset of winter (despite balmy temperatures and a lack of snow). Highlights include Winter Flicks (screenings of both The Muppet Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas), a holiday market and big band performances. Keep an eye out for the Feisty Jack Mobile Food Company food truck offering hearty British fare for after you’ve had a few laps around the Natrel Rink. Dec. 8 to 16. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.
7. THE BARNS HOLIDAY ART MARKET (FREE!)
Returning after last year’s successful inaugural run, the Covered Street Barn at Artscape Wychwood Barns transforms this weekend into a holiday market. Indulge in a cup of hot cocoa from the seasonal café while admiring the beautifully decorated Christmas tree and wandering through the aisles of paintings, clothing, baked goods and handmade gifts. There are also self-guided tours around the Barns, which explore the community and environmental values Artscape brings to the neighbourhood. Dec. 9 and 16. Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St., 416-392-1038, torontoartscape.org.
8. ENTRE LES BRAS
The documentary Entre les Bras examines the elite culinary class that is the Michelin Star club and the French father-son team behind Bras, the proud owner of three Michelin stars. Michel Bras is poised to hand over the wooden spoon to his son Sebastien, throwing the future of the restaurant (and the reputation of the family name) into question. Watching the duo working is a bit like watching a strange, French Benny Hill skit with dialogue—Michel and Sebastien hover over and weave around each dish in perfect sync, chattering away in rapid-fire French while delicately dabbing and smearing sauces in precise order on the plate under, over and around the actual food, creating an 86-minute riot of food porn. Dec. 7 to 13. $12. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-599-8433, tiff.net.