The return of Come From Away, an art extravaganza on the beach and eight other things to see, do, hear and read this week
Come From Away’s glorious return
1Come From Away landed on Broadway last spring with brilliant timing. The big-hearted Canadian musical—about how tiny Gander, Newfoundland, welcomed close to 7,000 stranded airline passengers on 9/11—proved a sparkling antidote to a sour, divided post-election America. Audiences and critics embraced its welcoming message, the Tony Awards showered it with nominations (and one win!), and celebs took to Twitter to rave. This month, the show returns to Toronto, the hometown of creators David Hein and Irene Sankoff, for an encore at the Royal Alex. The husband-and-wife duo is also busy scripting a film adaptation, produced by Hollywood veteran Mark Gordon (Saving Private Ryan, Steve Jobs). Tuesday, February 13 to Sunday, September 2. $69–$250. Royal Alexandra Theatre.
A cottage country showdown
2Drew Hayden Taylor’s bizarre plays riff on the relationship between Indigenous people and Canadian settlers: the creation of a Native theme park, for example, or a struggling blues band stranded in a First Nations community. The Ojibwa writer’s provocative new comedy, Cottagers and Indians, which receives its world premiere at Tarragon this month, is set in Ontario cottage country, where property owners worry that a First Nations farmer is ruining their summer getaway spot in the Kawarthas. The story is inspired by the real-life case of wild-rice grower James Whetung, whose war with the cottagers of Pigeon Lake recently made international headlines. Tuesday, February 13 to Sunday, March 25. $30. Tarragon Theatre.
A frosty art extravaganza
3Who says you can’t go to the beach in February? Over the past three years, Winter Stations has transformed Balmy, Kew and Ashbridges Bay beaches from winter wastelands into artistic hot spots with wacky, wondrous installations. This year, the design competition’s winning ideas reflect a time of uncertainty and upheaval: a massive noise box with four hand-cracked alarms, a labyrinthine grid of revolving door–like pillars, a nuclear cooling tower constructed of toy pinwheels and, riffing on the rebellious pink tuques of the 2017 Women’s March, a cozy cabin called the Pussy Hut. Monday, February 19 to Sunday, April 1. Free. The Beaches.
A symphonic Valentine’s date
4This Valentine’s Day, carve out a little time to remember the original star-crossed lovers: Romeo and Juliet. the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and conductor Andrew Davis present selections from Prokofiev’s ballet version of Shakespeare’s tale of romantic woe. Hopefully your night ends better than Romeo and Juliet’s. Wednesday, February 14 and Thursday, February 15. $34.75–$148. Roy Thomson Hall.
A power couple’s retrospective
5When they met in 1955, Joan Mitchell and Jean-Paul Riopelle were already formidable forces in the art world. She was a rising American abstract expressionist known for her spontaneity, bold colours and even bolder brush strokes; he was a French-Canadian sculptor and surrealist painting dark, dense canvases. They maintained a rocky romantic and artistic relationship for 25 tumultuous years, bleeding into each other’s personal and professional lives until their separation in 1979. The AGO’s new dual retrospective charts how the two complicated personalities influenced each other’s work, featuring 50 of their large-scale paintings. The show also includes seminal selections from the postwar abstract movement, archival photographs of the couple and interactive installations. Opens Sunday, February 18. $19.50 (included with general admission). AGO.
An eclectic, cutting-edge theatre festival
6Now in its 39th year, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s Rhubarb Festival showcases daring experimental theatre, dance, music and performance art. Audiences may see as many as three or four shows in one night, including a play about an indie band in a plague-ridden Toronto, karaoke with an alien android, and a queer reimagining of pro-war songs. Wednesday, February 14 to Sunday, February 25. $20. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.
Kim Coates’ homecoming
7On Sons of Anarchy, he was Tig Trager, the twisted outlaw biker with a soft spot for kids and dogs. Now, Canadian actor Kim Coates is back on home turf to play an ex–motorcycle stuntman with an equal fondness for young folk—he likes to supply them with illicit drugs and regale them with tall tales. Coates stars as Johnny “Rooster” Byron, a modern-day Pied Piper, in the acclaimed British play Jerusalem. He’s joined by a cast that includes fellow TV alum Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest) in an epic production by indie powerhouses Outside the March and Company Theatre. Tuesday, February 13 to Saturday, March 10. $25–$65. Streetcar Crowsnest.
A time-travelling Valentine’s burlesque show
8This Valentine’s extravaganza travels back to a time when a bacchanalian orgy was a good first-date option. Local burlesque troupes Skin Tight Outta Sight and Boylesque TO team up for Veni Vidi Valentine, a lighthearted and well-oiled tour through ancient Rome, with all the Caligulan excess you and your Valentine can handle. Wednesday, February 14. $25–$30. Revival Bar.
Tyler, the Creator’s class-clown act
9Tyler, the Creator is the loopiest rapper around, decked out in fluorescent duds and a goofy perma-grin that make it seem like he’s forever trying to pull a fast one on a yearbook photographer. On Flower Boy, his latest record, he keeps up the oddball antics: he even treats his own coming-out as a joke, rapping, “I been kissing white boys since 2004.” But there’s surprising maturity behind the slinky hip-hop arrangements and punchlines, as he offers up verses about Black Lives Matter, loneliness and his own shortcomings. Just don’t expect his fashion sense to change anytime soon. Saturday, February 17. From $29.50. Ricoh Coliseum.
The best of black cinema
10The Toronto Black Film Festival showcases a world of black stories, with 60 films from countries including Canada, the U.S., Nigeria, South Africa, the Congo, France and Denmark. The seven-day fest also includes panels and workshops, live music, food, storytelling events, and tributes to casting director Robi Reed, jazz legend Oliver Jones and actor Adrian Holmes. Wednesday, February 14 to Monday, February 19. $12. Various venues.