Back-to-back Strumbellas shows, a Studio Ghibli film fest and seven other things to do over the next two weeks
Two nights of foot-stomping Strumbellas hits
The local folk outfit strummed, clapped and stomped their way to international acclaim this year, topping the charts with their jangling anthem, “Spirits.” This week, they bring their massive sing-along sound to the Danforth Music Hall for back-to-back nights, supported by West Coast indie rockers The Zolas. Plus, they’ll play a 45-minute kids’ matinee on Dec. 23 for fans with earlier bed times. Thursday, December 22 and Friday, December 23. $15–$45. Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave., thedanforth.com.
A crash course in the magical films of Studio Ghibli
When it comes to creating fantastic, unforgettable worlds, nobody does it like Studio Ghibli. This retrospective includes all the best-loved films from Japan’s most legendary animation studio: My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and, of course, Spirited Away, all by the master Hayao Miyazaki. Meanwhile, other screenings, like Grave of the Fireflies and The Cat Returns, prove there’s more to Ghibli than its most famous filmmaker. Saturday, December 24 to Tuesday, January 10. $10–$14. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., tiff.net.
An E.T. screening with a live symphony
Watching 10-year-old Elliott Taylor fly his bike past the moon on a TV or laptop just won’t cut it. Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster about a boy and his alien pal is the kind of wide-eyed adventure (and three-hanky weeper) that demands to be seen on the big screen. Here, you get a big sound system, too—or, rather, a touring symphony orchestra for a live performance of John Williams’s heartstring-tugging score. Thursday, December 29 and Friday, December 30. $49–$99. Sony Centre, 1 Front St. E., sonycentre.ca.
Alligator Pie, a zany ode to Canada’s Father Goose
Kim’s Convenience playwright Ins Choi teams up with a handful of Soulpepper vets to turn the poetry of Canada’s Father Goose, Dennis Lee, into a raucous family musical. Full of slapstick, wacky costumes and, of course, Lee’s popular poems, this proudly silly show offers the unrivalled pleasure of five grown adults shamelessly embracing their inner goofballs. Tuesday, December 27 to Saturday, December 31. $25–$50. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Ln., youngcentre.ca.
A classic-film fest for cinema diehards
Do you, like Quentin Tarantino, think digital projection is mere “TV in public”? Are you tired of schlepping out to cinemas that project old movies off DVDs and looking for something more than choppy Netflix streaming? Magnificent 70mm, an irresistible series of big, widescreen classics (Vertigo, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Right Stuff), will bring you back to the glorious days of rich, detailed 70mm film. Saturday, December 24 to Sunday, January 1. $12–$17. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., tiff.net.
An enduring operatic comedy
With Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert and Sullivan accomplished a paradoxical feat: in spoofing opera, they created a classic of the genre. It features the pair’s usual perky choruses, sentimental arias, tongue-twisting patter songs and ingratiating nonsense as it follows the hapless Frederic, who’s contractually bound to remain a pirate until his 21st birthday. Trouble is, he was born on Feb. 29, so it would take another 60 years to finally get out and be free to marry his beloved. Tuesday, December 27 to Sunday, January 8. $49–$95. St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St. E., torontooperetta.com.
A doc about a different kind of Christmas music
Can’t stand to hear “Santa Baby” again? Take solace in Jingle Bell Rocks!, a 2013 documentary about alternative Christmas tunes. The film follows music junkie Mitchell Kezin on a quest to uncover the holiday season’s hidden gems, and features live performances and interviews with DJs, composers, radio hosts and musicians (like members of Run DMC and The Flaming Lips). At this festive screening, Santa will hand out prizes for best costume, and anyone in a Christmas sweater gets $3 drinks. Wednesday, December 21. $10. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., hotdocs.ca.
A waltzing New Year’s Day matinée
For 22 years, Salute to Vienna has upheld its crowd-pleasing formula: performers in gowns and tuxes, and audiences elegantly swaying to easy-listening waltz tunes. Soprano Polina Pasztircsák and tenor Alexander Kaimbacher contribute arias and duets from well-known operettas, while International Champion Ballroom Dancers join performers from the Kiev Ballet to keep the afternoon moving in three-four time. Sunday, January 1. $65–$155. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., salutetovienna.com.
A chance to sing along to the Sound of Music
The Lightbox will be alive with, er, the sound of music when TIFF revives the world’s most popular sing-along. Here’s your chance to become an honorary Von Trapp by belting out “So Long, Farewell” and “Do-Re-Mi” with Julie Andrews and co. Monday, December 26 to Saturday, December 31. $10–$14. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., tiff.net.