The Weekender: The Tsar’s Cabinet, The Nutcracker and six other items on our to-do list
1. THE POLAR EXPRESS PJ PARTY
Most children love slumber parties and Christmas movies, which makes the decision to combine the two rather brilliant on the part of Ontario Place—it’ll be hosting a IMAX 3D screening of The Polar Express this Saturday. Kids can don their most festive jammies, make foam ornaments, ask Santa for items on their wish lists and settle in to watch the show. Dec. 17. $15 (To guarantee tickets, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). Ontario Place Cinesphere, 955 Lake Shore Blvd. W., ontarioplace.com.
2. THE TSAR’S CABINET
For the house proud, this very shiny collection of decorative art and home goods—featuring the Romanov family’s Fabergé mounts, imperial porcelain eggs (you mean you don’t have any?), gilded dinner services (a home staple, of course), historical court photos and even their good silver—makes for good, if a little ambitious, inspiration. Some may remember the Romanovs: they were the Russian Imperial family that the Bolsheviks really, really disliked and, um, killed during the revolution of 1917. Perhaps you remember Anastasia better? To Jan. 8. $12. Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8080, gardinermuseum.on.ca.
3. THE NUTCRACKER
We’ve been going to see James Kudelka’s version of this holiday favourite regularly since its debut in 1995, and it’s still thoroughly engaging. Set in Imperial Russia, Tchaikovsky provides the score for Misha and Marie’s journey into a dream world inhabited by fairies, living icicles and gingerbread soldiers (unfortunately the kind you can’t eat, because that would be cannibalism). To Jan. 3. $33–$116. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., 416-345-9595, national.ballet.ca.
4. UNSILENT NIGHT TORONTO (FREE!)
Already a joyfully raucous tradition in other cities, this is the first time Toronto will have its own Unsilent Night. Described as a “participatory sound sculpture,” it’s basically a group of speaker-toting people walking from the ROM to Yonge-Dundas Square, all playing—one of four—mixes of the same track at the same time. The cool part? Each participant—and all those who catch a few bars as they pass by—experience the sound in a totally unique way. Vancouver, Cambridge and Whitehorse have all participated, so it’s about time that Toronto (and Edmonton) caught up with the public art scene. Dec. 17. Meet at the Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, unsilentnight.com.
Little did the theatre world know that when this anti-establishment play made its Broadway debut in 1968 it would be a harbinger of all big rock musicals to come. Set in the midst of the 1960s countercultural movement, it follows a group of bohemians living in N.Y.C.’s East Village who are trying to avoid being conscripted into serving in the Vietnam War. While the details are different, the musical’s tension between doing what’s expected and what you believe in (not to mention its cultural and social criticism) is more than a little relevant today. To Dec. 31. $35–$122. Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. W., 416-872-1212, mirvish.com.
6. LATKEPALOOZA (FREE!)
Previous years have included duck fat–fried potatoes and sweet potato latkes, which means this year’s contestants will need to step up their game (purists are still welcome, but come on). This annual event is hosted by Caplansky’s Delicatessen and, hey, even if we don’t win, at least we’ll get to eat lots and lots of fried potatoes. Registration is required for entrants and no off-site applesauce is allowed (Caplansky’s will be supplying unspiked applesauce to avoid jury tampering). Dec. 18. All entrants will receive a free lunch. Caplansky’s Delicatessen, 356 College St., 416-500-3852, caplanskysdeli.com.
This 1930s play, by Hungarian playwright Miklós László, is like all the good bits of You’ve Got Mail without the challenge of buying Tom Hanks as a romantic lead. Adapted by Soulpepper’s Adam Pettle and Brenda Robins, this Dora Award–winning production is about two clerks in a Budapest parfumerie who not-so-secretly loathe one another. Unbeknown to them, they’re also, falling in love via anonymous letters. To Dec. 31. $28-$65. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill Street, Bldg. 49, 416-866-8666, youngcentre.ca.
8. BUSKERTAINMENT (FREE!)
Catch the tail end of the city’s annual winter buskerfest on Saturday and Sunday. Mimes, stilt walkers, jugglers, human statues and illusionists will all be in attendance along Yonge Street and at Queen and James. Proceeds from Buskertainment help Raising the Roof fund their support of the city’s homeless. To Dec. 18. Various locations. wintermagic.ca.