A Rihanna concert, a trio of mini-musicals at the AGO and eight other things to do this week
A rowdy Rihanna concert
The bold Barbadian rose to pop stardom with a steady stream of Caribbean-tinged hits, but her new album, Anti, eschews pop trends for a sound that’s more introspective after-party than bumping dance club. It’s a skilled blend of pop and R&B that incorporates elements of reggae and hip hop—and, on the steamy single “Work,” a pinch of Drake, too. Here’s hoping he shows up to her ACC shows this week (or at least at the Real Jerk afterward). Wednesday, April 13 and Thursday, April 14. $30.50–$170. Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St., ticketmaster.ca.
Reframed, a trio of musicals inspired by AGO paintings
Acting Up Stage Company, the deft troupe behind Grey Gardens, is taking over the AGO for a trio of new 20-minute musicals. A different local playwright and composer duo created each show, using a single work in the Richard Barry Fudger Memorial Gallery as inspiration: La Casati follows painter Augustus John as he discovers his former lover hiding away in her crumbling mansion, He is Coming tells the story of New York’s greatest artist as she’s being evicted from her apartment, and The Preposterous Posthumous Predicament of Paulie Peel is about a family in the wake of their father’s death. Tuesday, April 12 to Sunday, April 17. $40. AGO, 317 Dundas St. W., actingupstage.com.
A moving presentation by Jane Goodall
The 82-year-old primatologist first ventured into the forests of Tanzania with a notepad and a pair of binoculars in 1960, intent on spending her 20s studying wildlife. In this lecture, she recalls her travels, her research and moving stories from the depths of the jungle: gaining the trust of the chimpanzees with whom she lived, giving them names and witnessing them create tools to catch termites. Tuesday, April 12. $50–$150. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E., ticketmaster.ca.
Andrew Bird and his wonderful whistling
In his eponymous solo project and playfully named bands (Squirrel Nut Zippers, Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire), the American musician creates a one-man orchestra that blends classical music, bluegrass and Scottish folk: he plays and loops instruments like the glockenspiel, xylophone, mandolin and violin, accompanying them all with vivaciously whistled melodies and soulful singing. At this show, listen for “Capsized,” the percussive opener on his new studio album, Are You Serious. Wednesday, April 13. $51.25–$56.75. Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave., ticketmaster.ca.
A boozy backyard barbecue
Celebrate the last snowfall of the season (for real this time, please) with a spring cookout. Big Crow and Kensington Brewing Company have teamed up for this five-course dinner and beer pairing. On the menu: lots of barbecue—grilled heirloom carrots, smoked salmon, Perth pork rashers, jerk lamb necks—and new one-off brews from KBC, including their Goose Grisette, Bald Eagle American IPA and Badger Belgian Dubbel. Suck it, winter. $80. Monday, April 11. Big Crow, 176 Dupont St., roseandsonsbigcrow.com.
If/Then, a star-studded Broadway musical
This musical shares both its setting (New York) and some of its star power (director Michael Greif, actor Anthony Rapp) with Rent, but contains only a taste of that title’s tragedy. It follows a divorcee in her late 30s as she bounces between Manhattan rooftops, bedrooms and birthday parties searching for a fresh start. With every choice she makes, the soaring score diverges to tell two alternate storylines. Tuesday, April 12 to Sunday, May 8. $35–$130. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., mirvish.com.
Portraits in Motion, a Humans of New York for the rest of the world
Since 2003, Volker Gerling has trekked more than 3,500 kilometres through his native Germany, snapping portraits of the people he has met and filing the photos in flip books. The project has since transformed into a piece of performance art that’s equal parts gallery show, travelogue and storytelling, in which he uses projections to bring some of his favourite flip books to life. Wednesday, April 13 to Saturday, April 16. $24. Harbourfront Centre Theatre, 231 Queens Quay W., harbourfrontcentre.com.
A stunning baroque-pop set from Aidan Knight
The virtuosic Victoria singer-songwriter has spent much of his career quietly creating intricate indie gems. His pensive third album, Each Other, is his most masterful yet. Its eight atmospheric tracks are a collection of subtle, whispered verses; cathartic, orchestral choruses; and entrancing instrumental passages. He’s best live, backed by a band that turns the subtle songs into a lush, multi-layered wall of sound. Thursday, April 14. $15. Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W., ticketfly.com.
Das Ding, a biting satire about globalization
German playwright Philipp Löhle’s dark satire about the perils of globalization gets its North American premiere at Canadian Stage. Its various storylines take place across continents: an African cotton farmer’s work aids a pair of Chinese start-up dreamers, whose foundering business worries a group of Romanian pig breeders and brings a troubled marriage to its disastrous end. The same cast of six play multiple sets of parallel characters in speedy, sharp-witted scenes that gradually interconnect. Thursday, April 14 to Sunday, May 1. $30–$53. Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs, 26 Berkeley St., canadianstage.com.
A preppy pop-rock performance by Ra Ra Riot
The Syracuse band play infectious indie pop, filled with shimmering synths and bouncing string sections. Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij co-wrote and produced parts of their latest record, Need Your Light, and his influence shows: the title track and single “Water” pair literary lyrics with beautiful baroque-pop melodies. That record will comprise most of the repertoire of the band’s Toronto stop—though we have our fingers crossed that they’ll also play their excellent cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Run Away With Me.” Thursday, April 14. $18.50. Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., ticketmaster.ca.