My Favorite Murder live, a brass-filled Beirut show and six other things to see, hear and do in Toronto this week
A murderino love-in
1In the hilariously horrifying podcast My Favorite Murder, comedy writer Karen Kilgariff and TV host Georgia Hardstark gleefully detail the most grisly and peculiar murders throughout history, from notorious serial killers like Ted Bundy to the mysterious case of Kathleen Peterson, whose autopsy report suggested she’d been pecked to death by an owl. Toronto fans were heartbroken when the duo’s 2018 live show sold out in minutes, but Kilgariff and Hardstark are back for an encore this week, adding their morbid humour to the true crime genre. Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24. $52.89–$72.89. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
A brass-filled Beirut show
2While visiting the medieval Italian town of Gallipoli, Beirut frontman Zach Condon stumbled upon a procession of priests leading a brass band through town. That cacophonous afternoon inspired his latest album’s title track, “Gallipoli,” which features half a dozen layers of blaring trumpet fanfare and a bossa nova rhythm from a wonky Farfisa organ that Condon rescued from a travelling circus. Recorded in Berlin, New York and Puglia, Italy, Gallipoli is a symphony of upbeat percussion, booming brass and bellowing organ, all of which will be front and centre at the band’s show. Tuesday, February 19. $53–$89. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
A trailer park dramedy
3Last year, the prolific actor-playwright Daniel MacIvor transported theatregoers to ancient Rome with his libretto for Rufus Wainwright’s opera Hadrian. Now, he returns to his East Coast roots with New Magic Valley Fun Town, a comedy set in a Cape Breton trailer park. Two boyhood friends reunite after 25 years apart, but as their booze-fuelled get-together winds down, darker memories surface, and the two must face a series of uncomfortable truths. Wednesday, February 20 to Sunday, March 31. $23–$30. Tarragon Theatre.
A stripped-down solo show
4Daina Ashbee, one of Canada’s most provocative choreographers, tackles menstruation in an hour-long solo show performed by fellow B.C. dancer Paige Culley. Wryly titled Pour, it features Culley writhing naked on a bare white stage—an allusion to the northern seal hunt, says Ashbee—contorting herself to express pain and resilience. Ashbee’s work routinely aims to unsettle its audience, but Pour also possesses a stark technical mastery that elevates it into a strangely beautiful experience. Thursday, February 21 to Sunday, February 24. $35.50. The Franco Boni Theatre.
A beachside art installation
5For the next six weeks, the shores of Woodbine Beach will be dotted with massive, brightly-coloured interactive art installations. The Winter Stations exhibit is part of an annual public art design competition, showcasing sculptures and designs from artists and architects around the globe. This year, each installation was inspired by migration. Expect to see a maze of monarch butterflies (inspired by the forests in Michoacán, Mexico, where Canadian butterflies travel over 4,000 kilometres in winter), a series of pink platforms that resemble something out of a Super Mario Brothers game, and a colourful collection of human statues. To Monday, April 1. Free. Woodbine Beach.
An operatic honour
6Soprano Jessye Norman effortlessly switches between contralto and high dramatic soprano, making her one of the most versatile figures in modern opera. This year, she’s the 12th recipient of the esteemed Glenn Gould Prize, awarded biennially to a person whose contribution to the arts has enriched humanity. To celebrate her legacy, some of classical music’s most stellar luminaries, including Sondra Radvanovsky and Nina Stemme, will perform alongside the Canadian Opera Company’s orchestra at the award ceremony. Wednesday, February 20. $50–$150. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
A Mozart showdown
7Italian composer Antonio Salieri was the most sought-after musician in 18th-century Vienna. But he was far from a genius—and he knew it. The sound of true brilliance came from the piano of his colleague, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. For decades, conspiracy theorists have vilified Salieri as an envious tormentor who drove Mozart to an early death, and Miloš Forman’s 1984 film, Amadeus, certainly played into that myth, reimagining the pair as a prodigy and a hack. At Amadeus Live, Forman’s Oscar-winning masterpiece screens with a full symphony playing along to both Mozart’s masterpieces and Salieri’s less-acclaimed works. Thursday, February 21 and Friday, February 22. $55–$110.50. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
A feline-friendly movie marathon
8With more than 25 billion collective views, cat videos rank among the most-watched content on YouTube. Hot Docs Cat Video Fest complies the best of the best into a feline-friendly marathon, featuring viral favourites like GrumpyCat and box-master Maru. A portion of the ticket sales support local cat shelters. Saturday, February 23 to Thursday, March 7. $15. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.