Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this July

Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this July

Including a scorching Broadway show, an R&B queen’s royal return and an animated history of climate change

Being by Hayv Kahraman, courtesy of the artist and the SHVO collection, New York
A collective show on Islamic womanhood

1 In Being and Belonging, 25 women with connections to the Islamic world grapple with some of the most pressing issues of our time. Featuring more than 100 pieces from artists including Huda Lutfi, Lalla Essaydi and Lubaina Himid, the exhibition confronts war, migration, discrimination and spirituality through a kaleidoscope of viewpoints. Interviews with the artists offer insight into the creative processes behind works in a variety of mediums, including painting, photography, graffiti, textiles, ceramics, animation, mosaics and video installations. Opens July 1, ROM

A memoir that confronts life’s expectations and realities

2 Expanding on their wildly popular 2019 essay of the same name, CJ ­Hauser’s The Crane Wife is billed as a memoir-in-essays. The collection centres narratives of happiness, relationships and family, moving from Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story to a robot convention to John Belushi’s rock and roll grave site, examining traditional ideas about love and intimacy. With the directness of a close friend, Hauser uses wisdom and vulnerability to connect with those whose lives haven’t turned out the way they hoped, inviting readers to find joy in the unexpected. Out July 12

Courtesy of Live Nation
A K-pop supergroup takes on Toronto

3 The supergroup known as Twice has nine members. Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung and Tzuyu all had to fight for the spotlight: back in 2015, they competed on the Korean reality show Sixteen for their place in the band. Since then, their Korean, Japanese and English albums have earned them nearly six billion streams on Spotify and over 10 million album sales. Twice’s highly anticipated 2023 album, Ready to Be, shows that they’re the real deal. This Toronto performance is part of the group’s fifth world tour, which kicked off in April and takes them to Japan, Australia, France and beyond. July 2 and 3, Scotiabank Arena

An evocative novel about an embattled city

4 Crook Manifesto, the captivating new novel from Colson Whitehead—and the second instalment in a trilogy, following 2021’s Harlem Shuffle—is set in 1970s New York, where a war is raging between the NYPD and the Black Liberation Army. Ray Carney, a furniture store owner, manages to maintain a sense of calm amid the chaos—until he tries to procure Jackson 5 tickets for his daughter. Ray’s world shifts as
he bumps up against shady characters, Hollywood stars and drug dealers. With humour, Whitehead paints a picture of a singular time and place while examining the meaning of family. Out July 18

At Badminton by Sarindar Dhaliwal, courtesy of the artist
A decades-spanning solo exhibition

5 After more than 40 years of artistic practice and notable contributions to the Canadian cultural landscape, ­Sarindar Dhaliwal is presenting her first solo exhibition. The South Asian Canadian mixed-media artist, who moved from Punjab to Canada by way of England, has shown her work across the country and around the globe. Now, the AGO will display a selection of key pieces from throughout her career. Archival works, such as meticulously rendered drawings from the 1980s to the 2000s, will appear alongside more recent additions. Opens July 22, AGO

A hybrid show that traces an epic friendship

6 A Mesopotamian epic gets a modern makeover with King Gilgamesh and the Man of the Wild. Baghdad-born Ahmed Moneka and American-born Jesse LaVercombe recount their friendship through the lens of the ancient tale of Gilgamesh and his wild man companion, Enkidu. Along the way, they also trace Moneka’s journey from exiled Iraqi to Canadian musician. July 25 to August 6, Young Centre for the Performing Arts

T. Charles Erickson
A scorching Broadway hit lands in Toronto

7 Set in an infernal industrial underworld, Hadestown may literally be the hottest show of the summer. The 2019 Tony Award winner for best musical is a blazingly imaginative retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. After a starving Eurydice signs on to work for the wealthy tycoon Hades—who is building a wall to keep out the poor—her lover, Orpheus, becomes determined to rescue her. Anaïs Mitchell weds themes of exploitation, unionization and the perils of the climate crisis with an exuberant folk-jazz score. July 5 to August 20, Royal Alexandra Theatre

A rock legend’s historic farewell

8 Nearly half a century after releasing their debut album, Foreigner is saying farewell. The British American rock legends are one of the bestselling bands of all time, with 80 million records sold and hits—such as “I Want to Know What Love Is,” “Hot Blooded” and “Cold as Ice”—that span multiple generations. July 25, Budweiser Stage

Evangeline Fitz/Beaches Jazz Festival
A jazz lover’s paradise

9 Splashy venues, Grammy Award–winning artists and after-parties at the stylish W Hotel (with vending machines of mini Moët bottles)—the Toronto Jazz Fest is taking over Bloor-Yorkville for 10 days of free outdoor programming. This year’s festival showcases the funky grooves of George Benson and the sizzling rumba-soul of Afro-Cuban star Cimafunk. Also on the lineup: Herbie Hancock, Ashanti, Jully Black, Kokoroko and many more. With over 100 free live performances and some ticketed events, it’s a jazz lover’s chance to hop between the city’s greatest venues and listen to some silky-smooth tunes. June 23 to July 2, various locations

An animated history of the climate crisis

10 What is the lure of anti-science rhetoric and climate change denial? That’s the question at the heart of David Lipsky’s The Parrot and the Igloo. From the tales of three inventors—Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla—to the scientists who identified carbon dioxide as the cause of global warming, Lipsky profiles not only the experts who sounded the alarm on the climate crisis but also those who lied about the science and misled the public. The book explores themes of ecological disinformation and greed through the stories of an incredible cast of characters. Out July 11

Zak Scholtz
A beloved street festival hits the pavement

11 Bloordale’s yearly car-free summer festival is back. Bordered by rail lines and factories and, in some areas, “dry” until 2000, Bloordale wasn’t always a social hub. Enter the Bloor Improvement Group, whose efforts to bring the community together have resulted in 16 years of the BIG on Bloor festival. The event spotlights the area’s local artists and small businesses with a weekend­-long pedestrian takeover that has been known to draw upward of 100,000 visitors. Concerts, art workshops, outdoor murals and public installations will abound. July 15 to 16, Bloordale

An amplified century-old opera

12 Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly first premiered at La Scala in Milan in 1904. Over a century later, the opera has gained as much fame as the iconic 200-year-old opera house. With The Butterfly Project, performer-creator Teiya Kasahara reinvents and reclaims Puccini’s famous scores. July 12, Walter Hall

Getty Images
An R&B queen’s royal return

13 Nearly a decade since her last world tour, Queen Bey is back—and the beehive is buzzing. Beyoncé kicked off her revival last summer with the single “Break My Soul,” which quickly ascended to platinum. After teasing fans with videos astride silver-­clad horses, she released her seventh studio album, Renaissance, which blends house, pop and gospel and quickly shot to the top spot on the US Billboard 100. It also earned Beyoncé her 32nd Grammy Award—the most ever won by a single artist—this past February. July 8 to 9, Rogers Centre

An erudite play that examines love and the brain

14 If “My Chemical Romance” weren’t already the name of a band, it could be the title of Lucy Prebble’s hit 2012 play. The Effect follows Connie and Tristan, two young participants in a clinical trial for a dopamine-producing drug. When the pair find themselves falling for each other, the question of how much of their love is pharmaceutically induced threatens to derail the experiment. July 9 to 30, Coal Mine Theatre

An outdoor production of a Shakespearean classic

15 Back in 1983, Toronto Free Theatre took Shakespeare outdoors with a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in High Park. Forty years and 44 productions later, Dream in High Park has become one of the city’s beloved summer rituals, presented annually by Toronto Free’s long-time successor, Canadian Stage. This month, it returns with a new staging of the Bard’s iconic comedy about love, magic and mischief, set—Where else?—in a forest. July 21 to September 3, High Park Amphitheatre

A bestselling author’s latest page-turner

16 In this new novel from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the author blends Mexican horror and Nazi occultism to craft a dark, ir­resistible thriller. It’s the 1990s in Mexico City’s film industry, and despite being a talented sound editor, the protagonist’s abilities go unnoticed. When she and a friend become involved in a project with a cult horror director, they find themselves helping to finish a magic film. Out July 18

What Torontonians are loving right now

Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez

Recommended by Yannis Lobaina, author, filmmaker and photographer

“In this breathtaking novel, Hernandez weaves together stories of families from low-income, immigrant and multi-cultural backgrounds. The author takes readers beyond the stereotypes we
see on TV to a place full of love, art and community connection.”

Simon Remark
The Melancholy of Summer by Louisa Onomé

Recommended by Jael Richardson, author and founder and executive director of the Festival of Literary Diversity

“Louisa Onomé’s new book has everything you want in a great summer read. It’s a coming-of-age story about a Nigerian teen who finds herself in the care of a cousin she barely knows. She’s a compelling main character facing big stakes and hard questions.”

Midnight Run (Crave)

Recommended by Adrian Fuoco, vice-president of marketing at Pizza Pizza

“I taped this movie on TV when I was a kid, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s the ultimate ’80s buddy action flick. Robert De Niro is a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter who drags Charles Grodin’s mob accountant across the US. It’s hilarious and packed with cool stunts.”