A night with Lizzo, a Shakespearean burlesque show and six other things to see, hear and do in Toronto this week
A flute-playing hip-hop diva
1Lizzo’s rise to chart-smashing R&B diva status was fuelled by her unapologetic confidence and snappy lyrics. A classically trained flautist turned hip-hopper, she creates music that occupies a genre of its own, pairing booming bass with flute and ’80s disco. Live, Lizzo is a triple threat: backed by a clan of lycra-clad plus-size dancers, she belts out her uplifting hits (accompanied by Sasha, her beloved flute, which she named after Beyoncé’s third album) while fiercely twerking circles across the stage. Thursday, May 16. $40. Danforth Music Hall.
A spring beer fest
2For those who can’t spend the long weekend in cottage country, there’s an alternative to jealously scrolling though everyone’s lakefront Instagrams. Fort York Garrison Common is hosting cottage-inspired festivities at its annual Spring Beer Festival, with lawn games (like bean bag toss, bocce ball, giant Jenga and archery), food trucks and plenty of craft beer. Great Lakes Brewery, Waterloo Brewing, Mill Street, Overhop and Brickworks Ciderhouse are among the top vendors serving up pints all weekend long. Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19. $24. Fort York: Garrison Common.
A high-octane Pink concert
3Pink knows how to make an entrance: the last time she played the Scotiabank Arena, she swooped in on a massive jewel-draped chandelier. She’s back in Toronto this month touring her eighth full-length album, Hurts 2B Human—a fusion of upbeat pop riffs, stadium-shaking EDM verses and tortured-artist punk lyrics. (The singer once told Ellen DeGeneres that if she were truly happy, she’d be useless.) Instead of hiding under her rough-and-tough exterior, she celebrates outcasts and weirdos by shouting her hits from the rafters during a high-flying, cable-assisted acrobatics routine. Monday, May 13 and Tuesday, May 14. $106–$663. Scotiabank Arena.
A dysfunctional family drama
4The polymath playwright Tracy Letts won a Pulitzer Prize for his raucous family drama, August: Osage County, which was later adapted for the big screen starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. The plot centres on a family patriarch who goes missing. His daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren return to Oklahoma’s Osage County to support their grieving mother, a tart-tongued, hypercritical pill popper. The daughters, meanwhile, have their own issues to deal with, including a broken marriage and a secret incestuous affair. It’s a sharp portrait of a dysfunctional family in crisis, and it gets darker and funnier as the impromptu reunion spirals out of control. Saturday, May 18 to Wednesday, June 19. $38–$64. Young Centre for the Performing Arts.
A Passion Pit throwback
5In the early aughts, Michael Angelakos wrote a handful of humble songs as a belated Valentine’s Day gift for his then-girlfriend. When he formed Passion Pit a few years later, those early tracks ended up on the band’s first EP, which led to their 2009 breakthrough album, Manners. It forged their reputation as champions of surprisingly gleeful songs about heartbreak. Now, the band is marking the album’s 10th anniversary with a new tour. A long way from his days of performing with nothing but his laptop and a microphone, Angelakos commands the stage with infectious, manic energy, sing-along-worthy falsetto and the backing of a children’s choir. Friday, May 17. $50–$170. Danforth Music Hall.
A Shakespearean shakeup
6Created by the same team who reimagined the ancient Greek play Lysistrata as a sexy, whimsical comedy, I’ll Met by Moonlight is a sparkly (literally—there are a lot of sequins), gender-bending “Shakesqueer” adaptation of Midsummer Night’s Dream. It switches iambic pentameter and frilly Renaissance gowns for Buffon and burlesque, and the performers use every surface of The Painted Lady (including the bar top) as a stage. Tuesday, May 14 to Sunday, May 20. $20–$25. The Painted Lady.
An Indigenous opera
7Shanawdithit, believed to be the last surviving member of Newfoundland’s Beothuk tribe, chronicled her world in a series of maps and drawings in the lonely months before her death in 1829. Her passing likely meant extinction for her people, but this opera, named after its titular character and created by Indigenous artists from across Turtle Island, gives her story new life. For its world premiere, mezzo-soprano Marion Newman of the Kwagiulth and Stó:lō First Nations sings the title role, and veteran composer Dean Burry (best known for his work on the operatic version of The Hobbit) provides the music. Tuesday, May 16 to Saturday, May 25. $50–$99. Imperial Oil Opera Theatre.
A Strokes comeback tour
8The Strokes have been on a touring hiatus for the past two years while frontman Julian Casablancas wrote tracks with his other band, the Voidz, and shredder Albert Hammond, Jr., produced a fourth solo album. Now, the New York indie rockers are reuniting for a global comeback. They’re opening the Budweiser Stage’s 2019 season, recreating the vibe from their early days in Lower East Side dive bars by relying entirely on their instruments and Casablancas’ raspy voice. Monday, May 20. $89–$356. Budweiser Stage.