Advertisement
Culture

Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this September

Including a glitzy world-class festival’s return, a night of public art and an ode to orchestral legends

Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this September
Photo by Joan Marcus

1 The six wives of England’s King Henry VIII have their say (in song) in Six the Musical, a pop concert–style musical that’s been a sensation on Broadway and London’s West End (not to mention the Billboard charts). Henry’s ill-fated ladies are recast as contemporary pop divas and empowered with ballads—by British songwriting team Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss—that tell their side of those notorious divorces and beheadings. September 23 to December 17, Royal Alexandra Theatre

2 More than three decades after Emily Strayer, Martie Maguire and Natalie Maines founded the Dixie Chicks (now minus the “Dixie”), the country-pop trio are preparing for another world tour. The Dallas songstresses are no strangers to the superstar life: their down-south bluegrass and country music has won them 12 Grammy Awards since 1989. After a long hiatus and a decade of breakups and makeups, the Chicks reunited in 2020 to release their first album in 14 years, Gaslighter. Back in Toronto for the second time in two years, the Chicks are fully in their comeback era. September 18, Scotiabank Arena

The Master Plan, a lively show about a city and Big Tech
Photo courtesy of Crow’s Theatre

3 Canada’s pushback against the powers of Big Tech hits the stage this fall in a new play by satirist Michael Healey. In The Master Plan, Healey rehashes the notorious Sidewalk Labs fiasco, when the Google sister company aborted its plan to build a smart neighbourhood on Toronto’s waterfront. Adapted from Globe and Mail reporter Josh O’Kane’s bestseller, Sideways: The City Google Couldn’t Buy, it promises a wild ride through the boardrooms of Toronto. Strap yourself in for a witty exposé of corporate hubris, ineffectual government and the perils of public consultations. September 5 to October 1, Streetcar Crowsnest

4 Toronto’s most artful night is making a smash: the theme of Nuit Blanche this year is “Breaking Ground,” and the city is inviting artists to explore ideas relating to innovation and the natural world. A cross-city phenomenon, the exhibition will play out in various locations, including downtown, Etobicoke and Scarborough. September 23, various locations

The glitzy, world-class Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) returns to the city this September
Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

5 A powerful drama set in the racialized suburbs of Paris and a heart-warming comedy about an underdog soccer team are among the films making their world premieres at TIFF this month. The 48th edition of the festival will screen more than 200 movies over 11 days, including Les Indésirables, the follow-up feature from French rising star Ladj Ly, whose Victor Hugo–inspired film was a 2020 Oscar nominee. On the lighter side, New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi will debut Next Goal Wins, the real-life tale of the American Samoan team’s battle to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. September 7 to 17, various locations

6 Canadian legend Walter Borden has tales to tell. Growing up Black, Indigenous and queer in 1940s Nova Scotia, he became a civil-rights activist and helped break racial and sexual boundaries on national stages. Now, Borden distills a lifetime of experience into The Last Epistle of Tightrope Time, the latest iteration of a solo show he first performed in the ’80s. September 19 to October 15, Tarragon Theatre

Rising rap star Ashnikko's freshman tour hits Toronto this September
Photo by Getty Images

7 Ashton Nicole Casey—a.k.a. Ashnikko—got her first taste of fame on TikTok, when her 2019 single, “Stupid,” went viral on the platform. The raunchy, kitschy track was later certified platinum in the US and Canada. Since then, the blue-haired, baby-faced rapper released her debut mixtape, Demidevil, and has collaborated with musicians like Doja Cat, Grimes and Princess Nokia. Ashnikko’s first album, Weedkiller, comes out in late August and conjures up a dystopian world ravaged by machines. September 21, Rebel

Advertisement

8 Is there anything more emblematic of the Covid years than the face mask? As a way of documenting that awful, momentous era, Métis artists Nathalie Bertin and Lisa Shepherd invited creators around the world to make bespoke masks reflecting their cultural traditions and practices. The resulting collection, Breathe, includes the work of 55 different artists. Until October 1, Textile Museum of Canada

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents an ode to orchestral legends including Igor Stravinsky, Lili Boulanger and George Gershwin
Photo by Jag Gundu

9 The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is kicking off its 101st year of musical programming with an even more historic number: Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. It’s performed by world-renowned pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet along with the Spanish conductor and music director of the TSO, Gustavo Gimeno. Together, the two will take on Lili Boulanger’s 1918 D’un matin de printemps and George Gershwin’s 1925 composition Piano Concerto in F before ending with Stravinsky’s hypnotic 1913 ballet. It promises to be an unforget­table two nights at the orchestra. September 20 to 21, Roy Thomson Hall

10 In 1929, tuberculosis was killing one in seven people in New York, and the white nurses at Sea View, the city’s largest municipal hospital, began quitting en masse. This is the backdrop for The Black Angels, author and New York native Maria Smilios’s riveting book about the brave, unsung nurses who swooped in and risked their lives for 20 years under horrific conditions to care for the city’s poorest residents. Smilios celebrates the heroism and legacy of these women who were all but erased from history. Out September 19

Kaws presents a sprawling art exhibition from a former graffiti artist
Family by Kaws

11 Once called the “enfant terrible of the New York art world” by Christie’s, Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly—better known by his tag, Kaws—will make his Canadian debut at the AGO this month. A sculptor and painter with a gift for mixing high and low art, he has sold paintings at high-end auctions and worked with streetwear giants Bathing Ape and Supreme. His new exhibition will feature over 75 artworks, with the centrepiece being a set of larger-than-life painted bronze sculptures called Family. Opens September 27, AGO

12 From the author of Grand Union and Feel Free comes a work of historical fiction about a legal trial that captivated Victorian England. In Zadie Smith’s latest novel, The Fraud, Eliza Touchet, a Scottish housekeeper, counts justice and abolitionism among her interests. She’s also a skeptic, seeing her home country as a land of imposters. Eliza’s life intersects with Andrew Bogle’s—who grew up enslaved in Jamaica—when he becomes the star witness in the Tichborne trials, in which an Australian butcher claims to be the heir to a fortune. The dazzling novel asks readers to consider truth, fiction and self-deception. Out September 5

Advertisement
A triple threat's lusty new album from Janelle Monáe, whose latest tour hits Toronto this September
Photo by Getty Images

13 Singer, rapper and actor Janelle Monáe first sashayed into the mainstream with her chart-topping 2018 album, Dirty Computer. Nominated for two Grammy Awards, the album solidified Monáe’s place as a star by the age of 33. Now with eight Grammy nominations, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Children’s and Family Emmy Award under her belt, Monáe has become a bona fide triple threat. Beyond acting and singing, the artist has also been a vocal activist for the LGBTQ community. Her 2023 album, The Age of Pleasure, tells stories of love, desire and her own queer romances. September 21 to 22, Massey Hall

14 The push and pull of how to love and be loved is at the heart of Claudia Dey’s new novel, Daughter. After her childhood is torn apart by her father’s infidelity, Mona is starting to feel at ease as an adult and an artist. But, when her dad starts a new affair and pulls Mona in as his confidante, her stable world falls apart. Dey’s intoxicating writing sweeps readers into Mona’s battle for love and art. Out August 29

A stacked night of nonstop hilarity at Just for Laughs, featuring Nicole Byer
Photo by Getty Images

15 Just for laughs returns to Toronto this month, bringing nine days of side-splitting stand-up. Day two is hosted by self-proclaimed “big beautiful weirdo” Nicole Byer, the seven-time-Emmy-nominated host of Netflix’s Nailed It! Also on the lineup this year: Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey of The Office, and Saturday Night Live’s Chris Redd. September 22, Meridian Hall

16 Following their bestselling book Vanderbilt, Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe tell the story of the Astors, a family who embodied the American Dream. Their new biography, Astor: The Rise and Fall of an American Fortune, traces more than 200 years of the Astors’ ambition, invention and destruction, revealing their place in American history. Out September 19


What Torontonians are loving right now

Advertisement

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff, a historical novel that offers a different perspective on its eponymous Egyptian queen
Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff

Recommended by Rama Rau, writer, director and producer

Rama Rau, writer, director and producer, recommends the historical novel Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff

Cleopatra is a brilliantly written and researched biography of one of the most famous and powerful women of all time. It offers a different perspective on the queen of Egypt than the one we’re used to seeing in Hollywood. I’d recommend it to all non-fiction buffs.”


Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this September
Photo by Elevation Pictures
Seven Veils (TIFF)

Recommended by Alan Dilworth, artistic director, Necessary Angel Theatre Company

Alan Dilworth, artistic director, Necessary Angel Theatre Company, recommends Seven Veils by Atom Egoyan

“I always try to see Atom Egoyan’s work, whether it’s on a stage or a screen. Seven Veils is a meta opera-cum-film inspired by Egoyan’s passion for Strauss’s opera Salome, which Egoyan first directed for the Canadian Opera Company in 1996. The film follows a fictional opera director as she remounts the famous work.”


Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this September
Photo courtesy of Umusic
“WELLLL” by Jacob Collier

Recommended by Chantal Lim, actor, Ancient Dying Chinese Dialect

Advertisement
Chantal Lim, actor, Ancient Dying Chinese Dialect, recommends "WELLLL" by Jacob Collier

“Jacob Collier’s latest single will happily scramble your brain and put it back together again. The song features his signature sonic soup of vocal harmonies and layered instrumentals—but this time in a delightful tribute to rock music.”

NEVER MISS A TORONTO LIFE STORY

Sign up for This City, our free newsletter about everything that matters right now in Toronto politics, sports, business, culture, society and more.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.
You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Big Stories

These are Toronto’s best new restaurants of 2024
Food & Drink

These are Toronto’s best new restaurants of 2024