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Stephen Sondheim

Hot Dates: Sounds of Sondheim

JANUARY 16-FEBRUARY 3 The 13th annual Master Playwright Festival salutes Stephen Sondheim. The celebrated composer and lyricist has won an Academy Award, multiple Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and eight Tony Awards — more than any other composer. SondheimFest features 14 full productions, including such famous works as Assassins (pictured). Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, 174 Market Ave, 204-942-6537.

Hot Date: West Side Story Takes Toronto

MAY 8 TO JUNE 3 A tale of love amidst a turf war between two New York City gangs, the Broadway smash West Side Story needs little introduction. It’s been more than 50 years since its first performance and the classic take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim continues to mesmerize audiences with its dynamic dance numbers and timeless tunes, including the scintillating “America.” Toronto Centre for the Arts, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 pm, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 pm, $62 to $180; call 416-644-3665 or click here to buy.

Weekend Roundup: March 30 to April 1

Friday: The Tao Japanese Drummings pound out a beat

Friday, March 30
Give your evening a bit (err… a lot) of rhythm at an explosive performance by the Tao Japanese Drummers, a 13-piece ensemble that fuses Japanese-style drumming with influences from Korea, Indonesia, New Zealand, and elsewhere in the Far East to create a  spectacle of modern and traditional sound.

Operatic tenor Michael Schade returns to his hometown for a recital with Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni—making his Canadian debut—and Justus Zeyen on piano. On the program are the expressive words and music of German lieders by the likes of Schumann, Brahms, and Schubert, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Greer.

Vanguard indie-pop band The Magnetic Fields take the stage at the Sound Academy to promote their 10th album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea. As always, the band, formed by musician/songwriter/producer Stephin Merritt, promises a unique mix of tongue-in-cheek lyrics and synth-pop-meets-alt-folk sonics that really are not to be missed! (more…)

Weekend Roundup, October 7 to 9

Friday: See Faust with live music

Friday, October 7

F.W. Murnau’s classic 1926 silent film Faust screens this evening within the hallowed confines of Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church. Featuring live piano accompaniment by composer Robert Bruce, it’s an artistically immersive way to see and hear a revered piece of early filmmaking.

Find your way through a maze at the Ontario Science Centre‘s new exhibition, GPS Adventures. Using Global Positioning System technology, visitors can try out the popular activity of geocoaching to find hidden treasures and answer a riddle. (more…)

Hot Dates: Forum’s Ancient Antics

Bruce Dow, Randy Hughson and Cliff Saunders in "Forum" (photo by David Hou)

DECEMBER 15 TO JANUARY 16 Travel back to ancient Rome for a bawdy good time as the Tony-winning farce A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum takes to the Toronto stage. A smash-hit at last summer’s Stratford Festival, this hilarious romp follows a slave’s attempt to gain freedom by winning the hand of a courtesan for his master. Madcap music by Stephen Sondheim plus manic performances by co-leads Sean Cullen and Bruce Dow are sure to keep you and your toga in stitches. Canon Theatre, Tuesday to Sunday, various times, $40 to $120; for tickets, call 416-872-1212 or click here.

Hot Date: West Side Steps

Dancers perform the West Side Story Suite (photo by Bruce Zinger)

June 4 to 13 A commentary on prejudice and intolerance woven into a tale of star-crossed love is the heart of West Side Story. This month the National Ballet of Canada distills the vital essence of that beloved musical with its West Side Story Suite, which offers highlights from Jerome Robbins’ thrilling choreography set to the original score by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. The performance is followed by Opus 19/The Dreamer—also by Robbins—and an untitled world-premiere piece by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Wednesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $20 to $200; call 416-345-9595 to reserve.

September Hot Date: Tribute to Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim

SEPTEMBER 21 & 28 Legendary is probably the best word to describe Stephen Sondheim. Over the course of an illustrious, decades-long career, the American composer has scored such beloved musicals as Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods, and wrote the lyrics to West Side Story. This month, Sondheim in September brings selections from his famed repertoire to Toronto over several nights. Among the interpreters of these well-known tunes are Elicia MacKenzie—currently starring as Fräulein Maria in The Sound of Music—and Jeff Madden from Jersey Boys. Metropolitan Community Church, 8 p.m., $25 for each show; call 647-367-8477 or click here for tickets.