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Things to Do in Toronto: Festivals, Concerts and Events This Winter

There are always so many things to do in Toronto. Get out and enjoy some of the many great expos, events and concerts taking place throughout the city this month!

BY STEPHANIE YOUNG

Jonas Valanciunas and the Toronto Raptors are posting up this winter at the ACC (photo: Toronto Raptors)

Jonas Valanciunas and the Toronto Raptors are posting up this winter at the ACC (photo: Toronto Raptors)

ON NOW  Design your placards, slip on a foam finger, and don your red and white jersey: the Toronto Raptors’ basketball season is in full swing. The next couple of months see more than a dozen rivals come to the city to take on our hometown team. Whether they’re playing the Brooklyn Nets, L.A. Clippers or Chicago Bulls, Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan, and the rest of the dinos will be in tough, competing to remain in the playoff hunt as the second half of their 2013-14 campaign marches on. Air Canada Centre, $12.50 to $360; call 416-366-3865 or see raptors.com for game times and tickets.

TO FEBRUARY 23  Featuring full-frontal puppet nudity and a slew of raunchy jokes, Avenue Q is decidedly not your standard children’s entertainment. Winner of multiple Tony Awards and boundless applause since is 2003 off-Broadway debut, the humorously provocative musical follows recent college graduate Princeton and his strange, felt-and-fabric roommates as they navigate life’s highs—both figurative and literal—and lows, and try to come to terms with the responsibilities of adulthood. Take note, this R-rated Sesame Street-esque production is intended for viewers at least 14 years of age. Lower Ossington Theatre, $49 to $59; call 416-915-6747 or visit lowerossingtontheatre.com for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

JANUARY 7 TO FEBRUARY 16  In Flesh and Other Fragments of Love, a vacationing couple discovers the body of a drowning victim. Seeking to piece together the dead woman’s life, the pair’s own story together threatens to come apart. Helmed by Tarragon Theatre artistic director Richard Rose, Linda Gaboriau’s translation of Dora Award-winning Quebecois playwright Evelyne de la Chenelière’s Une vie pour deux—itself an adaptation of Marie Cardinal’s novel of the same name—is a hauntingly poetic illustration of love’s darker shades. Tarragon Theatre, $21 to $53; call 416-531-1827 or visit tarragontheatre.com for tickets and showtimes.

Polar Opposites is at the Next Stage Theatre Festival

Polar Opposites is at the Next Stage Theatre Festival

JANUARY 8 TO 19  A cold-weather complement to Toronto’s summer-season fringe fest, the Next Stage Theatre Festival returns to showcase independent plays from across the country and covering every genre—from powerful dramas to musicals to idiosyncratic comedies. Among this year’s productions are Polar Opposites—a slice of eco-conscious fun in which two polar bears hold a conversation while standing on a melting iceberg—and the upbeat dance piece Jack Your Body, a dynamic illustration of a cultural movement. With these and eight other shows in the offing, the event boasts a real accumulation of underground and emerging talent. Factory Theatre, $10 to $15; call 416-966-1062 or see fringetoronto.com for more information.

JANUARY 11 TO 23  The Toronto Symphony Orchestra celebrates Mozart’s birthday with a trio of virtuoso performances: Ignat Solzhenitsyn takes the reins as conductor and lead soloist for Amadeus’s Symphony No. 39, Piano Concerto No. 18, and the overture from La clemenza di Tito. This is followed by an all-Canadian ensemble of top classical vocalists and musicians, including Grammy-winning violinist Hilary Hahn, who unite to perform the Coronation Mass, Violin Concerto No. 5, and more. Finally, conductor and pianist Louis Lortie joins the TSO for the “Gran Partita” Serenade No. 10 for woodwinds, plus other highly praised works. Roy Thomson Hall, $33 to $145; 416-598-3375 or visit tso.ca for concert dates and other details.

JANUARY 18 TO FEBRUARY 21  Expect a thoroughly modern take (if not aesthetically, then at least thematically) on one of Mozart’s classic comedies as the Canadian Opera Company stages  Cosi fan tutte as envisioned by director Atom Egoyan. The opera concerns two soldiers who test their lovers’ fidelity with a seemingly simple ruse: pretending to be called away for military duties, the men disguise themselves and arrange to be reintroduced to their lady loves. Emerging stars and notable veterans sing side by side in this brand-new COC production about the struggle between love and temptation. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $45 to $332; call 416-363-8231 or visit coc.ca for more information and to buy.

JANUARY 19 TO FEBRUARY 9  In 2006, the discovery of five dead women forever altered life in the simple town of Ipswich, England. Just how things changed is the subject of London Road, a critically acclaimed musical docudrama by playwright Alecky Blythe and composer Adam Cork, based on real events and interviews with the neighbours of the local man who would eventually be convicted of murder. Bluma Appel Theatre, $24 to $69; call 416-368-3110 or visit canadianstage.com for a full schedule and to purchase tickets.

JANUARY 28 TO MARCH 9  The medium has changed, but the story—about change, among other things—remains the same in Metamorphosis. The stage adaptation of Franz Kafka’s disturbing yet oddly comic novella presents the story of Gregor Samsa, who awakens one morning to discover he’s been mysteriously  transformed from man to insect. Uncomfortable with his appearance and shunned by his family, Gregor’s struggle plays out on an innovative split-level set, which he navigates via a series of daring aerial stunts. Royal Alexandra Theatre, $25 to $99; call 416-872-1212 or navigate here for showtimes and further details.

The Canadian Opera Company performs Un ballo in maschera this January (photo: Ruth Walz)

The Canadian Opera Company performs Un ballo in maschera this January (photo: Ruth Walz)

FEBRUARY 2 TO 22  Guiseppi Verdi’s Romantic-era opera of desire, heartbreak and murder, Un ballo in maschera, gets a retro-modern update courtesy of the Canadian Opera Company. Transplanted to the American south in the 1960s, a costume ball sets the stage for Riccardo to confess his unwavering love for his secretary’s wife—a betrayal that can only end in tragedy. Starring Canadian-favourite soprano Adrianne Pieczonka and tenor Dimitri Pittas, it’s an emotionally fraught tale of passion and revenge. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $82 to $280; call 416-363-8231 or click here for further details.

FEBRUARY 2 TO MARCH 2  Misunderstood Billy, born deaf, has had to make his own way in the hearing world, without aid or support from his parents. In the award-winning Tribes, though, he meets a woman who is herself becoming deaf; their bond helps Billy understand what it’s like to truly be heard. Berkeley Street Theatre, $22 to $45; call 416-368-3110 or click here for more information.

FEBRUARY 4 TO APRIL 20  Enter an inferno of political intrigue and sensual artistry as Mirvish Productions introduces the world to Arrabal, a masterfully choreographed story of self-discovery told through dance. Based on true events in 1970s Argentina, this world premiere follows a young woman struck by the vibrant rhythms of tango clubs but haunted by her nation’s volatility. Featuring music by two-time Academy Award-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, performed by a live band direct from Buenos Aires, this sultry production is sure to heat up the stage. Panasonic Theatre, $44 to $99; call 416-872-1212 or click here for showtimes and more information.

FEBRUARY 13 & 14  After taking six years to cool off from the sensational success of his second solo album, Justin Timberlake brings sexy back to Toronto once again. Promoting his two-part 20/20 Experience album with one massive world tour, the singer struts on stage with suits and ties by Tom Ford, plus a skilled troupe of dancers and a slick backing band. Air Canada Centre, 8 p.m., $67.25 to $192.75; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit ticketmaster.ca to buy.

FEBRUARY 14 TO 23  All the sleekest new cars drive into Toronto this winter for another edition of the Canadian International Autoshow. More than 600,000 square feet of display space is dedicated to exhibiting top luxury vehicles, vintage rides, and even some of the latest state-of-the-art concept cars. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, $23; call 905-940-2800 or visit autoshow.ca for more information.

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