Chris Rock’s stand-up set, a dazzling ballet and eight other things to see, do, hear and read this week
Chris Rock’s searing stand-up
1Chris Rock should have no shortage of material to work with, between the election of Donald Trump, the resurgence of white nationalism and his own less-than-amicable divorce. On his new world tour, the greatest comedian of his generation (we’re calling it) leans heavily on personal anecdotes, including a self-lacerating monologue about struggling to remain faithful as a bajillionaire superstar. Expect to hear Rock’s caustic take on America in the “new Jim Crow” era and a few other punchlines that might turn up in those upcoming Netflix specials that netted him a cool $40 million. Saturday, November 11. $65–$150. Air Canada Centre.
An all-star indie rock benefit
2Every year, local songwriter/do-gooder Hayden throws one of the fall’s best concerts, Dream Serenade, a benefit for kids with physical and developmental disabilities. The 2017 lineup includes Canadian rock kings Sloan, Sam Roberts and Skydiggers, as well as indie wonders Owen Pallett and Hannah Georgas. Plus, mystery guests are always waiting in the wings. Saturday, November 11. $25–$125. Massey Hall.
A spellbinding Shakespeare ballet
3The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s hidden gems: a little-known supernatural sparkler about jealousy, redemption and bear attacks. And somehow, it lends itself even better to dance than it does to theatre. The National Ballet’s version comes from the mind of Christopher Wheeldon, the British mastermind whose whimsical imagination colours everything from the breathtaking choreography to the sleek Grecian costumes and luscious sets (just wait for the magical wishing tree in the second act, glittering with thousands of hand-blown glass ornaments and crawling with lifelike moss). Hannah Fischer, the willowy ballerina who’s rapidly becoming one of the company’s hottest attractions, assumes the role of Hermione, the tragic queen who turns into a living statue. Friday, November 10 to Sunday, November 19. $39–$265. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
A binge-worthy true-crime podcast
4On the first two seasons of Someone Knows Something, CBC’s answer to Serial, host David Ridgen investigated Canadian cold-case disappearances. This week, the true-crime podcast returns with a gruesome American mystery: the murder of two black teenagers in 1964 in Mississippi. Ridgen travels south to find the truth behind the crime and ends up digging up dirt on the state’s white supremacist history and tainted justice system. Tuesday, November 7. CBC.
A double dose of Broad City–style humour
5As one-half of the lovably loopy best-friend duo on Broad City, Ilana Glazer charms fans with uncomfortably honest and hilarious depictions of what it’s like to be a broke girl in the big city. She brings her brash feminism to the stage in a tour called Yaas Queen Yaaas (of course), alongside 2 Dope Queens podcaster Phoebe Robinson. In quirky, off-the-wall stand-up sets, the pair will riff on what it means to be a woman in comedy, relay the plight of the disappointed Hillary voter and, we can only presume, deliver a few unapologetic vagina jokes. Wednesday, November 8. $25–$25. Danforth Music Hall.
A taste of Asia’s finest cinema
6The Reel Asian International Film Festival returns with a stellar line-up of North American premieres. Watch for The Posterist, a documentary about Yuen Tai-Yung, whose movie posters are as iconic in Hong Kong as Honest Ed’s signs are in Toronto; Bad Genius, a thriller about the shady world of academic cheating in a Thai high school; and Dear Etranger, a tender portrait of a Japanese man torn between two families from separate marriages. Thursday, November 9 to Saturday, November 18. $15. Various theatres.
A night inside a horror auteur’s musical mind
7The films of John Carpenter owe their macabre mood to music. The settings may change, but Carpenter’s icy, minimalist and propulsive synth scores brought the same sense of giddy dread to Halloween’s suburbs and Snake Plissken’s New York. Since retiring from filmmaking, Carpenter has made music his full-time gig, touring with remixed versions of his classic themes, often in collaboration with his son and godson. Toronto fans get to pretend they’re in a Carpenter movie as the master brings his intimate, immersive Anthology tour to the Danforth Music Hall. Cosplay as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Kurt Russell or Jamie Lee Curtis at your own discretion. Sunday, November 12. $42.50–$59.50. Danforth Music Hall.
A thrilling mini-musical
8A hit at SummerWorks in 2016, Mr. Shi and His Lover is a chamber musical based on the story of a French diplomat who carried on a 20-year affair with a mysterious Chinese opera singer. The incredible true tale, originally the inspiration for the play-turned-film M. Butterfly, gets a fresh spin from Toronto composer and writer Njo Kong Kie and Macau playwright Wong Teng Chi, who retell it from the spy’s perspective. The show, in Mandarin with English surtitles, brings silky subterfuge and the exquisite strains of Beijing opera to the Tarragon mainstage. Tuesday, November 7 to Sunday, December 17. $22–$60. Tarragon Theatre.
A forgery-free art show
9The Toronto-based Italian painter Marco Sassone counts Tina Turner and the late Luciano Pavarotti among his collectors, fetches upwards of $10,000 for his works and, now, has a bit of badass cred: the FBI and RCMP are currently investigating four individuals in California accused with selling forged lithographs of his art. The real deal hits Berenson Fine Art this week as part of Viaticus, a collection of 18 new, vibrant landscapes and cityscapes in oil and watercolour. Thursday, November 9 to Friday, December 8. Berenson Fine Art.
One of Canada’s boldest sopranos
10Barbara Hannigan is unafraid to tackle new and unknown works: Berg’s Lulu and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande may be the closest she’s come to crowd-pleasers. With vocal heft and dramatic skill, though, she wrings the beauty out of unfamiliar music. Composers are taking note—several write with her voice in mind. This program is almost classical by her standards, with songs by late 19th- and early 20th–century composers like Alban Berg, Anton Webern and Alma Mahler. Friday, November 10. From $40. Koerner Hall.