A SpongeBob musical, a K-pop convention and five other things to do in Toronto this week
An underwater spectacle
1Nickelodeon’s flagship cartoon has transformed into a candy-coloured theatrical spectacular. The live-action SpongeBob Musical swaps out the day-to-day meanderings in Bikini Bottom for a satirical tale about “tidal warming” and power-hungry politicians. (Sound familiar?) The jolly score includes the show’s theme song (still sung by a pirate who sounds like he smokes a pack a day) and an impressive mixtape of new earworms penned by artists familiar to the Billboard charts including Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler, Sara Bareilles, T.I., Lady Antebellum, the Flaming Lips and John Legend. December 17 to 22, Meridian Hall.
A K-pop convention
2North America has jumped on the K-pop bandwagon: the songs are catchy, the fashion is pure eye candy and the dance moves rival Beyoncé. This weekend is KPOP North, Toronto’s biggest K-pop convention to date, where diehard fans can sing (or scream) along to performances from musical exports like KARD, The Rose and Zion. Aspiring BTS members take note: there will also be a dance competition with a $2,500 grand prize. December 21, Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
The Messiah returns
3There’s no lack of opportunity this month to enjoy Handel’s choral masterwork, Messiah, which premiered in Dublin in 1742 and is still packing them in. The raise-the-rafters crowd might go for the full-power punch of the TSO and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, but those who favour period authenticity and a personalized experience flock to Tafelmusik for its intimate take. Tafelmusik, December 17 to 20, Koerner Hall. TSO, December 17 to 22, Roy Thomson Hall.
A rocking documentary
4If you didn’t manage to secure an invite to TIFF’s star-studded opening gala, the film in question is having an encore showing at Hot Docs. Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band builds on the momentum of Robertson’s 2016 memoir, documenting his early days on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve, the formation of The Band and the rivalries that drove them apart. The film is a candid account of fame and friendship, featuring interviews with fellow music luminaries Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton and Van Morrison. December 16 and 18, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
A fashion-forward rapper
5A decade ago, A$AP Ferg was designing belts for Chris Brown. Now, he’s rapping alongside Brown, French Montana and Ariana Grande—and he’s a Vogue-approved member of the international style set. This past summer, he dropped his latest EP, Floor Seats, featuring energetic bangers, his signature trap and a collaboration with fellow mobster A$AP Rocky. Ferg rarely flies solo (past shows have featured appearances from G-Eazy and Klay Thompson), so expect surprise cameos from a few of his famous friends. December 17, Rebel.
A homegrown hit
6Even if you don’t don’t know Loud Luxury by name, you’ve definitely had one of their songs stuck in your head. With over half a billion Spotify streams on their mega-hit “Body,” the Ontario-bred EDM-duo had a busy 2019: they won their first Juno award for Dance Recording of the Year, rode the festival circuit to Lollapalooza and EDC in Las Vegas, and now they’re going on tour. Their shows are basically dance parties, so get ready to jump around. December 20, Rebel.
A fishy lecture series
7Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water earned much attention and acclaim for its Toronto cameos, serial Oscar nominations and uncanny ability to make fish sex look hot, but the film’s portrayal of Elisa’s disability got a failing grade from critics. In a new cinematic lecture series, Disability on Film, U of T instructor and film critic Angelo Muredda deconstructs some of Hollywood’s infamous characters—Marvel’s hulking superheroes, the Phantom of the Opera, and yes, Amphibian Man—to show how disability has evolved on the big screen over the past century. This final talk of the year will focus on all things sci-fi and fantasy. December 19, Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre.