Attend a pancake party, see Kacey Musgraves and eight other things to do this week
Check out a South African puppet show for grown-ups
The latest feat from Canadian Stage is a three-week extravaganza of South African song, dance and drama. The absolute must-see is Jane Taylor’s Ubu and the Truth Commission. Set during the post-apartheid truth commission, the play follows a government death agent trying to scrub away his guilt. Like Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, Ubu combines grave subject matter and fantastical execution: it’s a theatrical smoothie of animation, documentary footage and wooden marionettes from the Handspring Puppet Company, the troupe behind War Horse. April 8 to 25. $20–$99. Various locations, canadianstage.com.
Gorge on pancakes at an underground art party
Six years ago, the L.A. photographer Tom Kirlin started throwing secret art bashes in his warehouse studio—boho bacchanals full of performance art, live music, cheap beer and pancakes. The Pancakes and Booze Art Show, his wildly popular event, has travelled across the U.S., finally landing in Toronto this week. Fifty or so artists will be hawking their stuff—prints, sculpture, mixed-media work and paintings—but the real draw is the gloriously grimy party, with DJ sets from L.P. Logic and Doc White; on-site body painting; and, of course, sky-high stacks of all-you-can-eat flapjacks. April 11. $5. The Opera House, 735 Queen St. E., pancakesandbooze.com.
See David Mamet tackle the feminine mystique
Boston Marriage comes from David Mamet, though you’d never know it. Unlike his usual pageants of chest-beating masculinity, the play is an arch comedy of manners about two Victorian women of the world who may or may not be more than friends. The wondrously witty script is one reason to go; the other is the inventive staging in the Campbell House Museum, which doubles as a stately Beacon Hill brownstone as the cast and audience traipse from room to room. April 9 to 26. $20. Campbell House Museum, 160 Queen St. W., 416-597-0227, ext. 2, campbellhousemuseum.ca.
Reimagine the Orpheus myth with Opera Atelier
Mireille Lebel is an operatic drag king: she stole scenes from Measha Brueggergosman last year as a lovesick swain in Opera Atelier’s production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, and wears the pants again this week in the company’s rendition of Orpheus and Eurydice, singing the role of the titular troubadour. The part was written for a contralto, but Lebel’s warm, lyrical mezzo-soprano makes for an inspired swap. Opera Atelier is known for its period-appropriate productions: expect antique lutes, brocaded costumes and dazzling spectacle. April 9 to 18. $38–$181. Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St., 416-703-3767, operaatelier.com.
Hear some retro Brooklyn chillwave
Twin Shadow, otherwise known as the Brooklyn artist George Lewis Jr., tweaks and transforms vintage sounds into music that blends lo-fi chillwave and plush power balladry, like Color Me Badd as reimagined by The Weeknd. The only problem with his albums is that sometimes they drown out his incredible voice—a guttural, howling, pealing colossus—in overwrought production values. The solution: see him tonight at the Phoenix, where his acrobatic vocals steer the show. April 6. $20. Phoenix Concert Theatre, 410 Sherbourne St., collectiveconcerts.com.
Revel in the golden age of kids’ cinema
Not since the Disney Renaissance have we seen so many terrific movies for young people: the last year alone has brought The Lego Movie, Despicable Me 2, and Oscar winner Big Hero 6. TIFF has collected the next crop of classics for their annual kids’ film festival, featuring dozens of animated and live-action titles from around the world. On our short list: When Marnie Was There, the latest misty fairy tale from Studio Ghibli; Mune, an animated French fantasy about what happens when someone steals the sun; and Pappu’s Path, about a young boy at boarding school who happens upon a genie. Don’t miss the Looney Tunes breakfast, where kids can scarf down waffles while watching old Bugs and Tweety cartoons. April 7 to 19. Various prices. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-599-8433, tiff.net.
See a collaboration from the city’s top choreographers
James Kudelka is an old-fashioned ballet impresario, best known for his lavish, athletic productions of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker for the National Ballet of Canada. Peggy Baker is his polar opposite, a modernist choreographer whose work is fluid and spare. This week, they combine their classical and contemporary forces to create choreography for Johannes Brahms’s intermezzi, a collection of delicate piano pieces written near the end of the composer’s life. April 9 to 11. $39–$59. Harbourfront Centre Theatre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, artoftimeensemble.com.
Take a trip to old Hollywood
Every year, the Toronto Silent Film Festival recreates the gauzy romance of pre-talkie Hollywood with a series of silent screenings across town. This year’s slate includes films starring Louise Brooks, Mary Pickford and Lon Chaney, but if you only make it to one movie, check out Saturday’s showing of Safety Last!, Harold Lloyd’s surreal 1923 farce best known for the scene where its podunk hero hangs from a town clock. Ben Model, a film historian and composer, will speak before the screening about how directors like Lloyd, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin heightened their slapstick using a film-manipulation technique called undercranking. Then he’ll stick around and accompany the movie with live piano music. April 11. $20. Royal Cinema, 608 College St., torontosilentfilmfestival.com.
Listen to some rebellious, left-leaning country music
Country music, once a conservative time warp, is undergoing a progressive renaissance. At the centre of that uprising is Kacey Musgraves, a ballsy singer-songwriter from Texas who sings about pot and same-sex relationships. Her music is as infectious as it is defiant: “Biscuits,” her new single, is an anthemic swirl of banjo, steel guitar and twangy sass. Hear that, plus her other rousing tunes, at the Danforth Music Hall on Saturday. April 11. $44.50–$54.75. Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave., 416-778-8163, ticketmaster.ca.
Sample aspic at a retro pop-up dinner
Chef Brandon Olsen is responsible some of the city’s most euphoric bites. In 2011, after Grant van Gameren left the Black Hoof, Olsen took over the kitchen and horse tartare duty; the next year, GVG hired Olsen as the chef de cuisine at Bar Isabel, where he whipped up grilled octopus, charcuterie and fried chicken. Since then, he’s gone freelance, and this week, he’s collaborating with People’s Eatery in Chinatown, where he’ll concoct a feast inspired by vintage recipes from Gourmet magazine. Aside from jiggly aspic, the menu is a surprise—and, considering what constituted haute cuisine in the ’70s, more of a dining dare than the horse tartare. Email email@example.com to reseve a spot. April 12 to 14. $85. People’s Eatery, 307 Spadina Ave., 416-971-6788, peopleseatery.com.