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

Including Shania Twain’s homecoming concert, the National Ballet’s fancified Romeo and Juliet, Ashley Audrain’s highly anticipated second novel and the return of Luminato

Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this June
Photo by Respective Collective

1 Luminato showcases an eclectic mix of bold, genre-defying works of contemporary art. Founded in the wake of SARS as a way to help the city rebound, the quintessential summer festival has welcomed more than 10 million visitors over 16 years, presenting 77 world premieres and 115 commissioned works. This year’s lineup includes a re­imagining of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha and a performance of choreog­rapher Jean-Pierre Perreault’s Nuit. June 7 to 18, various locations

2 Pageboy tells actor Elliot Page’s story of strength, joy and defiance while confronting the realities of sex, love, trauma and Hollywood. On the brink of superstardom, with an Oscar nomination for the 2007 film Juno, Page was just discovering his identity as a queer and trans person. In this intimate memoir, he reckons with his relationship to his body while in the public eye, navigating the conflicting expectations of others alongside his own needs. Page’s vulnerability and captivating storytelling remind us of the complicated relationships we all have with identity. Out June 6

The National Ballet's Romeo and Juliet
Courtesy of the National Ballet of Canada

3 This isn’t your high school English class’s Romeo and Juliet. Alexei Ratmansky’s version of the Shakespearean classic revives one of the most famous ballets of all time with the National Ballet of Canada. The choreographer incorporates more dancing than past renditions, with fast footwork and exquisite lift sequences. The production uses the original score by Sergei Prokofiev and sets by Tony Award–winning stage designer Richard Hudson. June 15 to 25, Four Seasons Centre

4 Since its debut in 1995, North by Northeast has become the place to discover artists just before they make it big. Case in point: in 2014, NXNE audiences had the enviable chance to see Lizzo perform on a TTC streetcar. Luckily for us, the festival is back again, presenting thousands of artists at more than 20 venues across the city. New this year is general entry to NX HQ, the festival headquarters and lounge space on Queen East, which will host performances, panels, parties and more. If the next Billy Talent, Daniel Caesar or Feist is in town, this is where you’ll find them. Tickets for all five days are just $25. June 13 to 18, various locations

Art from the Aga Khan Museum's Rumi exhibit
Elephant from Agra, India circa 1600

5 If you’re looking to learn about one of the most quotable poets in history, now’s your chance. Rumi explores the legacy of 13th-century poet and mystic Jalal al-Din Muhammad of Balkh, commonly known as Rumi. Recognized globally for his messages of love and inner transformation, Rumi has been translated and reinterpreted countless times. In the 750 years since his death, his contributions to art and culture have endured. This exhibition tracks his influence from centuries-old artifacts and manuscripts to contemporary art and pop culture, proving that the search for love is timeless. May 13 to October 1, Aga Khan Museum

6 The backstage drama gets a modern makeover in this new play by Governor General’s Award–winner Colleen ­Wagner. Armadillos follows a theatre troupe touring a re­interpretation of a Greek myth. But, when a new actor is brought in to play the rebellious sea-nymph Thetis—who is forced to marry King Peleus—chaos ensues. This world premiere is directed by Jani Lauzon. June 3 to 24, Factory Theatre

Kelly v. Kelly is a new musical by Dora Award–winning composer Britta ­Johnson and playwright-actor Sara Farb
Courtesy of Musical Stage Company

7 Mother-daughter relationships don’t get any messier than this. In 1915, 19-year-old New York heiress Eugenia Kelly had an affair with a professional tango dancer, leading her outraged mother, Helen, to have her thrown in jail. Their stormy court battle made headlines a century ago. Now, it comes to the stage in Kelly v. Kelly, a new musical by Dora Award–winning composer Britta ­Johnson (Life After) and playwright-actor Sara Farb (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). Prepare to be transported back to the Broadway dance halls and “tango pirates” of a bygone era in this story of love, money and female rebellion. May 26 to June 18, Berkeley Street Theatre

8 Ella Mai’s musical career began when she auditioned for British reality series The X Factor in 2014. She rose to mainstream fame with her hit 2018 single, “Boo’d Up,” which won Mai her first Grammy the following year. Her second studio album, Heart on My Sleeve, showed the world that she’s just getting started. June 1, History

Pianist Yuja Wang
Photo by Julia Wesely

9 At the age of nine, Yuja Wang began studying piano at Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music. By 21, she had gained international recognition as a concert pianist, and now, at 36, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has dubbed Wang a megastar. Praised by the New York Times for her youthful energy, Wang has performed solo and with the world’s finest orchestras. In Toronto, alongside the TSO, Wang will tackle Rachmaninoff’s legendary Piano Concerto No. 3, a gargantuan 40-minute symphony renowned for its difficulty. June 16 to 18, Roy Thomson Hall

10 Tan Yunxian, the protagonist of Lisa See’s new historical novel, Lady Tan’s Circle of Women, is being raised by her grandparents in China at a time when the education of women is viewed as unimportant. From watching her grandmother, one of few female doctors in the country, Yunxian learns about women’s illnesses and builds a friendship with midwife-in-training Meiling. The two young women vow to be a part of each other’s lives. But, when Yunxian is coerced into an arranged marriage, she’s expected to abandon everything she’s learned. See’s novel celebrates the life-changing power of friendship. Out June 6

Country singer Shania Twain performing
Photo by Getty Images

11 It’s not often that a Canadian country singer finds mainstream fame, but Shania Twain isn’t your typical country singer. Dubbed “the Queen of Country Pop,” Twain rose to fame with her second studio album, The Woman in Me. Since then, the Windsor-born legend has won nearly 200 major international awards and sold over 100 million records, making her the bestselling woman in country music history. Last year, Twain received the People’s Choice Music Icon Award, proving that she’s still the one. June 23 to 24, Budweiser Stage


12 In September 1956, a high school in Clinton, Tennessee, became the first school in the former Confederacy to undergo court-mandated desegregation. In her new book, A Most Tolerant Little Town, Rachel Louise Martin visits Clinton to dig in to what happened back then, creating an immersive portrait of an American town in the midst of a changing culture. Out June 13

Aalaapi highlights contemporary Inuit voices and art
Artwork by Chief Lady Bird

13 The Inuktitut word aalaapi means “choosing silence to hear something beautiful.” In this hybrid show—part theatre, part audio documentary—audiences are invited to leave behind their preconceived ideas of the North and listen to contemporary Inuit voices. As two young women in Nunavik tune in to a radio, they hear the stories of other women living in northern communities. Aalaapi is presented by Native Earth and Théâtre Français de Toronto. June 8 to 10, Daniels Spectrum

14 Following the wild success of her debut novel, The Push, Ashley Audrain presents The Whispers, the intersecting stories of four women—Whitney, Mara, Blair and Rebecca—in the wake of a tragedy that lands Whitney’s son in the hospital. As the women come together to support Whitney, questions and complexities around female friendship, identity, intuition and silence emerge. Out June 6

Death Cab for Cutie performs at Massey Hall on June 2
Courtesy of Massey Hall

15 Formed in 1997, Death Cab for Cutie first entered the mainstream with their hit 2003 album, Transatlanticism. Two decades later, the band, led by vocalist and guitarist Ben Gibbard, count 10 studio albums, eight Grammy nominations and a certified platinum record among their accomplishments. Death Cab’s early-2000s indie-rock inspires nostalgia for the days of watching music videos on MTV and MuchMusic. Their latest album, 2022’s Asphalt Meadows, received critical acclaim, but the Transatlanticism Tour celebrates the 20th anniversary of the band’s most beloved album. June 2, Massey Hall

16 Jimmie Simpson Park hosts the 25th annual Riverdale Art Walk, one of the city’s premier outdoor art exhibitions, drawing an audience of over 25,000 each year. Visitors are invited to view and purchase fine art from a curated mix of more than 150 emerging and established artists. June 3 to 4, Jimmie Simpson Park


What Torontonians are loving right now

Lifers is an exciting new exhibition that explores the environmental harms of fast fashion and features over 20 repurposed and retailored lifejackets by Canadian visual artist Noelle Hamlyn
Photo by Geoff Coombs
Lifers (ROM)

Recommended by Dani Stover, host of 640 Toronto’s Let’s Talk with Dani Stover and the podcast Today in TO

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

“I love to thrift, and I’m inspired by folks who can create something new from old textiles. Lifers is an exciting new exhibition that explores the environmental harms of fast fashion and features over 20 repurposed and retailored lifejackets by Canadian visual artist Noelle Hamlyn.”

The cover of the audiobook May You Live in Interesting Times: A Memoir by Laraine Newman 
Courtesy of Audible
May You Live in Interesting Times: A Memoir by Laraine Newman (Audible)

Recommended by Stuart Hands, program director, Toronto Jewish Film Festival

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

“This candid and colourful memoir by the Saturday Night Live alum is one of the best comedy memoirs I’ve ever read—it’s honest and never feels self-serving. I’ve read many books about SNL, but Newman shares wonderful insights and stories that were new to me.”


Wu-Tang: An American Saga
Photo by Disney Plus
Wu-Tang: An American Saga (Disney Plus)

Recommended by Wai Ting, host of the podcast POST Wrestling

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

“Even if you can’t name any members of the iconic hip-hop group, you’ll enjoy this story about a young man’s musical awakening against the backdrop of an early-’90s Staten Island drug war. And, if you’re a Wu-Tang fan, your interest in the group’s cultural lore will be reawakened.”


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