A Fringe theatre festival, the opening of the Bentway skating trail and seven other things to see, do, hear and read this week
The best of the Fringe Fest
1This month, some of the finest plays from the Fringe fest get polished up and restaged at the Next Stage Theatre Festival. Among the highlights: the romantic mystery Moonlight After Midnight; comedy troupe Sex T-Rex’s absurd fantasy SwordPlay: A Play of Swords (pictured above); the feminist dance show That “F” Word; and stand-up comic Franco Nguyen’s one-man show Good Morning, Viet Mom. Wednesday, January 3 to Thursday, January 18. $15. Factory Theatre.
The Bentway skating trail’s grand opening
2The land under the Gardiner gets a grand makeover this week when the Bentway skating trail opens next to Fort York. This weekend’s opening party includes live music, an ice break-dancing performances and a skate party with the mayor and city councillors on Sunday. Opens Saturday, January 6. The Bentway.
A true-north take on the Hunger Games
3The Wolves of Winter, Tyrell Johnson’s celebrated debut novel, tells the story of 23-year-old Lynn McBride, a tenacious young woman caught in a bleak, post-apocalyptic world. She travels by foot across the abandoned Yukon tundra in the wake of war and disease, teaching herself to hunt and survive. When she encounters a mysterious fugitive named Jax, she learns of shady experiments and secrets from the past. It’s an intense, emotional thriller with a propulsive narrative and an immersive atmosphere—the perfect fireplace read this winter. Tuesday, January 2. Simon and Schuster.
A lean, mean Killers machine
4After five years between albums, The Killers return with new tunes and a thinner touring line-up: frontman Brandon Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. The duo will blaze through the energetic new material off Wonderful Wonderful, like the anti-Trump anthem “Run for Cover,” as well as old gems to sate the faithful. Friday, January 5. $59–$80. Air Canada Centre.
A satirical opera classic
5The Toronto Operetta Theatre brings Voltaire’s immortal naïf Candide to life. A diverse Canadian cast anchors composer Leonard Bernstein’s comic operetta about the title character’s wacky, world-trotting misfortunes. Friday, January 5 to Sunday, January 7. $49–$95. St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.
A Shakespearean rock show
6Tarragon Theatre recently lent a punk-rock edge to Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. Now, it brings electric guitars and a contemporary slant to Hamlet. Director Richard Rose stages the Bard’s tragedy as a rock concert, tapping Schitt’s Creek actor-musician Noah Reid to depict Prince Hamlet (the original angry young man) as a hoodie-wearing millennial who expresses himself in power chords and Shakespearean verse. The show also features Tantoo Cardinal as Gertrude, Nigel Shawn Williams as Claudius, new music by Thomas Ryder Payne, and an up-to-the-minute interpretation that links Hamlet’s rotten state of Denmark to today’s world of alternative facts. Tuesday, January 2 to Sunday, February 11. $22–$60. Tarragon Theatre.
A trip into Toronto’s musical past
7Myseum, Long Winter and the Gladstone Hotel team up for Toronto’s Musical Underground, an expansive, multimedia exhibition that traces the city’s alt-music history from the 1970s to now. The hotel will be filled with non-stop indie music performances, art installations about Toronto’s DIY music heritage and snapshots from the archives, including art and photos from late artist and promoter Will Munro’s legendary Vazaleen parties. Friday, January 5. PWYC. Gladstone Hotel.
A Toy Story–like tale about imaginary friends
8Where do imaginary friends go when their creators grow up? In the case of poor Mustard, he lives under his now-teenaged friend Thai’s bed while her parents undergo a divorce. Kat Sandler’s whimsical and bittersweet play about adolescence returns to the Tarragon after a successful run in 2016. Wednesday, January 3 to Sunday, January 28. $22–$60. Tarragon Theatre.
Victory Café’s victorious re-opening
9If you’re still mourning the loss of Mirvish Village, the block’s most beloved watering-hole is back from the dead. The Victory Café relocates a couple blocks east for its grand re-opening, promising wood-fired oven pizza, 30 European-style beers on tap and new whisky flights. Friday, January 5. Victory Café.