A Jay-Z show, the ROM’s dazzling Dior exhibition and six other things to see, do, hear and read this week
The second coming of Jay-Z
1For a while, it seemed like Jay-Z had called it a career, content to take a back seat to his superstar wife and let the Drakes and Kendricks of the world take up the rap mantle. Then came 4:44, this year’s intensely personal masterpiece, with emotional revelations about his affairs, his twins and his closeted mother (she even raps on a track). With slick beats and effortless delivery, it’s a more insightful—and more entertaining—life story than his autobiography, Decoded. This month, Jay will debut the record for Toronto audiences with back-to-back parties at the ACC. Wednesday, November 22 and Thursday, November 23. From $59. Air Canada Centre.
A Toronto-shot TIFF favourite
2In September, it was a TIFF hit. Now, Molly’s Game hits theatres—no rush lines required. The true tale stars honorary Torontonian Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom, the world-class skier whose Olympic aspirations were sidelined by a catastrophic injury. After the accident, she landed in the underground world of high-stakes poker, arranging exclusive million-dollar games for Hollywood elites, Wall Street barons and Russian mobsters—until the FBI clued in. Aaron Sorkin adapted the breathless screenplay from Bloom’s memoir; it’s also his directorial debut, as sharp and fast-paced as you’d expect from the West Wing creator. Wednesday, November 22.
Seventy stylish years of Dior
3After World War II, one fashion company almost single-handedly revived Parisian haute couture. For House of Dior’s 70th anniversary, the ROM examines the influential label’s first decade, showing how Christian Dior’s luxurious designs created an iconic look for a new era: soft shoulders, padded hips and full skirts (they’d been frowned upon for years because of fabric rationing). Working with loans from Dior Heritage and digging into its own Dior collection, the ROM also examines the mechanics of tailoring and the extraordinary craftsmanship behind these high-end duds. Saturday, November 25 to Sunday, March 18. $28. ROM.
Kevin Drew’s theatrical debut
4Indie rock meets It’s a Wonderful Life in A&R Angels, a weirdly enticing mash-up from the front men of Broken Social Scene and Billy Talent. The musical fantasy, written by Kevin Drew, follows a pair of angels who save lives through their songs. Drew and Ben Kowalewicz star as the two celestial troubadours, under pressure to compose a particularly powerful salvation anthem after a string of recent tunes fails to rescue mortals on the brink of suicide. The show, premiering at Crow’s Theatre, is in the capable and creative hands of director Chris Abraham, who helped another BSS member, Stars’ Torquil Campbell, craft a theatrical hit with last season’s True Crime. Monday, November 20 to Saturday, December 9. $20–$50. Streetcar Crowsnest.
A chance to trade coats for cocktails (and all-you-can-eat pierogies)
5This Sunday, three Parkdale restaurants are swapping coats for cocktails. Diners who bring a warm, gently used winter jacket to Tennessee Tavern, Harry’s Char Broiled or Pretty Ugly get a free boozy beverage in exchange. All of the jackets will be donated to GLOW, Toronto’s largest clothing bank. On the same night, Tennessee Tavern will kick off its new Sunday special: all-you-can-eat pierogies for only $5.95. Stay till 10 p.m. to witness Tennessee’s pierogi-eating Contest, where contestants will pump themselves full of dumplings for the prize of free pierogies for life. Sunday, November 26. Tennessee Tavern.
A rock vet’s powerful memoir
6CanRock elder statesman Tom Wilson has lent grit and guitar licks to bands like Junkhouse and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings since the 1980s. But faced with a life-altering family secret, he turned to the page, rather than song, to get it all down. In his moving memoir, Beautiful Scars, the veteran rocker recounts how, at age 53, he discovered he was adopted by his great–aunt and uncle; his biological mother was his older cousin. The story starts on the blue-collar streets of 1960s Hamilton and continues to today, as Wilson attempts to track down his biological father and connect with the Mohawk heritage he never knew he had. Tuesday, November 21. Doubleday Canada.
An eye-popping puppet show
7Rivers sing, trees laugh and magical creatures roam in Old Man and the River, a delightful puppet play for young theatregoers. It’s a whimsical tale of friendship, about a mean old man whose world is upended when a strange visitor shows up at his cabin in the woods. Preschoolers will enjoy the sweet story and charming musical score, while the gorgeous visuals—a vibrant woodsy set and stunningly detailed characters, operated by a team of invisible puppeteers clad in black—will bewitch even the most cynical adult. Saturday, November 25 and Sunday, November 26. $10–$20. Streetcar Crowsnest.
The Weather Station’s hometown album release show
8Between her straight blond locks and folksy songwriting, Toronto’s Tamara Lindeman has been pigeonholed as a modern-day Joni Mitchell. It’s tough to live up to, but she deserves the hype. Her self-titled fourth album is full of captivating stories and character studies, breezy roots-rock accompaniment and memorable vocal melodies. Friday, November 24. $17.50. The Great Hall.