A Cher extravaganza, a Harry Potter brunch and seven other things to see, hear and do in Toronto this week
A chance to turn back time with Cher
1At 72, Cher can rock a skimpy, glittery bodysuit better than any teenybopper. She promised that 2002’s farewell tour would be her last, but after the year she’s had—playing Meryl Streep’s glitzy, negligent mother in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, releasing a cheeky Abba tribute album, becoming the subject of a new Broadway musical—she’s resurrecting her power anthems yet again. A Cher concert is a mix of extravagance and nostalgia, with too many costume changes to keep track of (and enough sequins to light up a room), video montages chronicling her film career, and over-the-top props that include a life-sized elephant replica. But she also swaps out spectacle for honest reflection, telling stories between songs about her late partner Sonny Bono, her 40th birthday and the time she negotiated a $28,000 fee to appear on Late Night with David Letterman. If her recent exploits are any indication, Cher’s best years are yet to come. Monday, April 22. $176–$733. Scotiabank Arena.
A butter tart bonanza
2The quintessential Canadian dessert (sorry, Nanaimo bars) is the star of the annual Etobicoke butter tart festival, featuring hundreds of gooey, flakey pastries. Keep an eye out for Peterborough’s Doo Doo’s Bakery, whose multi-award-winning tarts have been named some of the best in Ontario, as well as Grandma’s Beach Treats, a cottage-country staple offering butter tarts baked lovingly by grandmothers in their Wasaga Beach kitchens. Saturday, April 27. Free. 516 The Kingsway.
A city-wide documentary festival
3Hot Docs returns for two weeks of screenings that cover everything from environmentalism to politics to true crime. This year’s lineup includes a heartfelt bio-doc on Canadian music legend Gordon Lightfoot, a closer look at the Syrian war as told through the eyes of a pregnant young woman living in Aleppo, and a documentary based on the best-selling novel Assholes: A Theoroy, a philosophical deep-dive into the most grating subtype of human being. Thursday, April 25 to Sunday, May 5. $17.50–$24. Various locations.
A magical brunch
4The historic Hart House, with its cathedral ceilings and massive widows, looks like it could be a part of Hogwarts—and this weekend, it will be. Harry Potter fans can ditch the muggle world for a magical brunch or dinner inside U of T’s most iconic building. The thematic feast includes a three-course meal, and costumes are encouraged. For wizards unable to conjure up boozy drinks at the wave of their wand, there will also be a cash bar. Saturday, April 27. Hart House.
A Canadian dream team
5The lyrics from the opening track of Metric’s newest album, Art of Doubt, perfectly illustrate the key to the band’s enduring success: “change by staying the same.” For two decades, they’ve steadfastly delivered their brand of angsty indie rock, because why mess with a good thing? Art of Doubt is full of the usual guitar riffs and politically charged lyrics that whip concert audiences into head-banging frenzies. For their latest tour, Metric is joining forces with fellow Toronto alt-rockers July Talk to put on a show that’s as quintessentially Canadian as it gets. Friday, April 26. $43–$185. Scotiabank Arena.
An emotional rollercoaster
6Next to Normal’s shape-shifting rock score—brilliantly switching between bass-heavy beats, twangy country and delicate piano—follows the ever-changing moods of Diana Goodman, a suburban wife and mother grappling with bipolar disorder. Created by Brian Yorkey (13 Reasons Why) and renowned composer Tom Kitt, the Pulitzer Prize–winning Broadway show captures a kaleidoscope of emotions as Diana sifts through treatment options to cope with the grief at the centre of her breakdowns. Friday, April 26 to Sunday, May 19. $60–$110. CAA Theatre.
A Shakespearean opera
7Verdi thought his career had peaked after the global success of Aida, so he decided to call it quits. His publisher, not ready to let Verdi’s talent wither away, convinced him to keep writing. The result, which took nearly a decade to complete, was Otello. Verdi’s version moves straight from the Moorish prince’s celebrated arrival in Cyprus to his anguished suicide at the bedside of his strangled wife. The dramatic score calls for voices of extraordinary power, and this COC production delivers, featuring the celebrated Canadian baritone Gerald Finley in his stage debut as the irredeemably evil Iago. Saturday, April 27 to Tuesday, May 21. $120–$350. Four Seasons Centre.
A night with the National
8For The National’s latest tour, the indie rockers are stopping off in five cities to debut their eighth album, I Am Easy To Find. It’s packed with wallowing vocals, soft piano ballads and steely guitar. Live, frontman Matt Berniger embraces the band’s mellow, laid-back approach to music by treating the stage like a friendly backyard party. He’s chatty, drinks glasses of red wine in between songs and even wanders into the crowd to greet fans mid-show. Wednesday, April 24. $104. Roy Thompson Hall.
An artsy fashion week
9Fashion Art Toronto blends and bends mediums in a five-day festival filled with film, photography and more than 50 runway shows. This year features work from Canadian designers Yukon Tough, Gemine Design and Kennie Mas, a performance by hip-hop artist Borelson, and an installation by collage artist Franco Berti. Wednesday, April 24 to Sunday, April 28. $22–$116. Daniels Spectrum.