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

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

BY BROCK SUTHERLAND

Jose Reyes and the Toronto Blue Jays try to bounce back from a woeful 2013 (photo: Toronto Blue Jays baseball club)

Jose Reyes and the Toronto Blue Jays are back on the field this month (photo: Toronto Blue Jays)

STARTS APRIL 4  Twenty years after their last playoff appearance, the Toronto Blue Jays went into the 2013 Major League Baseball season with a clutch of stars and a surfeit of confidence. Injuries and general poor play, however, intervened to turn the campaign into an entirely forgettable one. This year’s hype is duly tempered, but the team is once again whole and healthy, and stocked with major stars like Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, R.A. Dickey and Melky Cabrera who now have a lot to prove. The bird-boys in blue and white host the New York Yankees for an opening-weekend homestand. Later in the month they’ll seek to shut down division rivals the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox. Rogers Centre, $14.25 to $216.25; call 416-341-1234 or visit bluejays.com for a full schedule and tickets.

APRIL 5 TO 30  The Canadian Opera Company invites you to enter the world of Hercules. As the legendary strongman vanquishes yet another foe, his wife Dejanira begins to suspect he harbours feelings for a captured princess, who has in fact drawn the gaze of Hyllus, the hero’s son. Based on the writings of Sophocles and Ovid, and set to music by Handel, famed director Peter Sellars reimagines this three-act opera in which the horrors of war and the unspoken complications of reunion find their voice. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $45 to $332; call 416-363-8231 or visit coc.ca for showtimes and to buy.

APRIL 8 TO 21  Young storytellers can find inspiration in the cinema at the TIFF Kids International Film Festival, which presents feature flicks and shorts that tackle myriad subjects in a variety of genres and styles. Follow an abandoned cat into a magician’s mansion in House of Magic; watch a teen dream of becoming a sax player in Felix; or see how birds make it back to the city from the Amazon in Rio 2. Screenings often include filmmaker discussions exploring the movies’ themes, storytelling techniques and more. Pre- or post-show, visit TIFF’s digiPlaySpace for educational activities and workshops using new-media technologies. TIFF Bell Lightbox, $8.50 to $12 (additional cost for digiPlaySpace); call 416-599-8433 or see tiff.net/tiffkids for more information.

APRIL 10 TO 19  Now entering its 27th year, the Images Festival is the hip and helpful older sibling of independent and experimental moving-image arts, exhibiting film-, video-, performance- and new media–based works that resist the gravitational pull of mainstream production, distribution and creative conventions. Among the on-screen pieces and off-screen installations: an examination of language and the bureaucracy of immigration in Sharlene Bamboat and Alexis Mitchell’s Silent Citizen, a seafaring journey From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf by Indian collective CAMP, and Brett Kashmere’s From Deep, an experimental documentary on basketball’s place in American culture. Various venues, most shows free (some screenings and events $5 to $15); call 416 971 8405 or visit imagesfestival.com for a full list of exhibitions.  —Kait LaForce

Michael Bradley, Dwayne De Rosario and Gilberto lead the Toronto FC attack

Michael Bradley, Dwayne De Rosario and Gilberto lead the Toronto FC attack

APRIL 12  The city’s long-woeful footie squad, Toronto FC, hopes that money can buy happiness in 2014. The team recently signed influential American Michael Bradley to a six-year, $36 million contract, and convinced English star Jermain Defoe to suit up for $8 million a year. (TFC also paid $10 million in transfer fees for each player.) Combined with the return of Scarborough’s own Dwayne De Rosario, the team is now looking forward with one goal: winning. See if they can earn some Major League Soccer respect against the Colorado Rapids—Toronto’s lone home game this month. BMO Field, single ticket $20 to $233; call 416-360-4625 or see torontofc.ca for more information.

APRIL 12 TO MAY 3  As it marks its 10th anniversary, performance-residency program Hatch sets the stage for a quartet of shows investigating ideas of legacy, femininity, culpability and responsibility, and appropriation of voice. Blending live theatre with digital elements, creators including Francisco-Fernando Granados and Melissa D’Agostino offer unique entry points for audiences to contemplate and engage with the possibilities of performance—each presentation is followed by a discussion with the artists. Harbourfront Centre’s Studio Theatre, $12 to $15; call 416-973-4000 or see harbourfrontcentre.com/hatch for details.

APRIL 16 TO MAY 25  Imagine it’s the year 1606 and that Europe, at war over religion, nonetheless stands on the precipice of a new age of reason. Playwright Sean Dixon stands with them, questioning the role of piety at a tumultuous historical juncture. In A God in Need of Help, four Venetians set out to transport a sacred painting across the Alps to Prague. Waylaid on their route by fanatical Protestants, the quartet’s eventual escape is attributed to a miracle. Starring Richard McMillan, Dixon’s newest work is certain to ignite your faith in theatre—and with good reason. Tarragon Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2:30 p.m. $21 to $53; call 416-531-1827 or see tarragontheatre.com for more information.

Mirvish Productions presents The Last Confession

Mirvish Productions presents The Last Confession

APRIL 19 TO JUNE 1  It’s not every day that a stage show digs deep into what is arguably the world’s most highly guarded institution. The Last Confession, however, has drawn applause for its telling of the mystery surrounding the 1978 death of Pope John Paul I. Famously occurring after barely a month in Catholicism’s highest office, the pope’s demise provoked suspicion when it was revealed that he had advised three influential but hostile Cardinals that they would be replaced. Roger Crane’s drama recounts the papal plotting through the eyes of a sympathetic Vatican denizen, lending the Holy See a bit of Law and Order-style intrigue. Royal Alexandra Theatre, $35 to $119; call 416-872-1212 or visit mirvish.com for showtimes and to buy.

APRIL 24 TO MAY 4  North America’s largest non-fiction film festival, Hot Docs, returns to Toronto with an estimated 200 compelling documentaries of both Canadian and international provenance. Among the programming highlights: this year’s “Made In” series focuses on boundary-pushing movies from Denmark, while retrospectives are also planned in honour of Canadian documentarian John Zaritsky as well as BBC-associated journalist and filmmaker Adam Curtis. Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, $6.20 to $14.60 (multi-ticket packages $70 to $215); call 416-637-5150 or visit hotdocs.ca for a full schedule and to purchase tickets.

APRIL 30 TO JUNE 15  Boasting songs by a triple-threat of masters—Elton John, Tim Rice and Hans Zimmer—and a pedigree as a beloved Disney movie and groundbreaking musical, The Lion King roars onto the Toronto stage once again. Broadway’s fourth longest-running and arguably best-known production tells of exiled cub Simba’s quest to return to the pride lands, and uses innovative costumes and puppetry to artfully re-create its classic animal characters. Feel the love on whichever night you can get tickets and enter the circle of life. Princess of Wales Theatre, $30 to $150; call 416-872-1212 or see mirvish.com to buy.

ALL MONTH LONG  Freshen up for the season with an evening of effervescent comedy, as The Second City unleashes its brand-new spring revue. Titled Sixteen Scandals, this feral and frothy collection of sketches, songs, characters and improvisation touches on outrages both real and perceived, both personal and political, and prods the public’s obsession with rumour and innuendo. From a woman’s journey to the depths of the Internet—and its ceaseless stream of sensationalized content—to a father’s attempt to reestablish familial bonds when confronted with his son’s lifestyle choices, the show is stuffed with satire that skewers our present scandalized era. 51 Mercer St., $25 to $29; call 416-343-0011 or visit secondcity.com for tickets.

ALSO THIS MONTH

50 Shades! The Musical

50 Shades! The Musical

APRIL 1 TO 13  Pop-erotica achieves its parodic climax in 50 Shades! The Musical, on stage (right out in the open, for anyone to see!) at the Bluma Appel Theatre.

APRIL 1 TO MAY 4  Sex is considered in perhaps a more mature manner in Erin Shields’ Soliciting Temptation, at Tarragon Theatre.

APRIL 2 Greek singer Nana Mouskouri hits the high notes at Roy Thomson Hall.

APRIL 4  Buddy Guy riffs on the blues at Massey Hall.

APRIL 6  The Horseshoe Tavern hosts heat-seeking punk band Cloud Nothings.

APRIL 6 TO MAY 4  A couple’s existence is exposed as something other than idyllic in Amy Herzog’s Belleville.

APRIL 7  British synth-pop outfit London Grammar schools listeners at the Phoenix.

APRIL 7  Actress Glenn Close and her sister Jessie talk about the latter’s battle with bipolar disorder, as part of the Unique Lives and Experiences series at Roy Thomson Hall.

APRIL 9 TO 11  Your cool dad’s favourite band, The National, seek audience approval over three nights at Massey Hall.

APRIL 12 TO MAY 11  Yann Martel’s evocative novel Beatrice and Virgil is brought to the stage by Factory Theatre.

APRIL 14 & 15  Bob Dylan and Sonic Youth’s indie-psych lovechild, The War on Drugs, inspires zero conflict (because he’s great!) at the Horseshoe Tavern, and then at Lee’s Palace the next night.

APRIL 15  Massey Hall echoes with the sonorous sound of legendary country warbler Emmylou Harris, who’s set to perform her seminal Wrecking Ball

APRIL 15 TO MAY 17  Soulpepper Theatre Company does its best to unlock William Somerset Maugham’s novel Of Human Bondage on stage.

APRIL 19  Animal Collective member Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks kill it (musically) at Lee’s Palace.

APRIL 19  On leave from his regular gig as drummer for Bon Iver, S. Carey croons his own material at the Garrison.

APRIL 23  The Garrison presents more modern folk as Jessica Lea Mayfield performs her latest material.

APRIL 24  You won’t have to look too closely to spot the karma chameleon himself, Boy George, at the Danforth Music Hall.

APRIL 25  Audiences at Roy Thomson Hall are advised to afford Aretha Franklin the respect befitting a Queen of Soul.

APRIL 25  Funnyman Wayne Brady gives his all for giggles and guffaws at Massey Hall.

APRIL 25  Inscrutable Swedish duo The Knife perform their darkly danceable ditties at the Kool Haus.

APRIL 26  Arguably the most top piano trio of the past 20 years, Brad Mehldau, Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard swing into Massey Hall.

APRIL 26 TO MAY 3  Opera Atelier brings its celebrated production of Lully’s Persée back to the Toronto stage.

APRIL 28  An evening of silky R&B awaits as singer Ledisi performs with the Robert Glasper Experiment at the Danforth Music Hall.

APRIL 29 & 30  Doe-eyed Brit James Blunt wears his heart on his sleeve at the Danforth Music Hall.

APRIL 29 TO MAY 10  Jukebox musical We Will Rock You rehashes Queen’s greatest hits.

APRIL 29 TO MAY 18  Theatre Passe Muraille presents Rosamund Small’s Vitals, to be staged at an undisclosed offsite location.

APRIL 30 TO MAY 28  Athol Fugard’s Apartheid-era play The Road to Mecca is performed by Soulpepper Theatre Company.

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