• eat
  • shop
  • see
  • go
  • stay
  • daytrip
  • map
  • calendar
  • transport
  • weather
  • currency
  • tofrom

Toronto Raptors

What to Do in Toronto: Festivals, Concerts and Events this October

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!

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

ALL MONTH LONG  Tony Award–winning musical The Book of Mormon is back at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The story centres on two missionaries who travel to Uganda in hopes of spreading the gospel but who experience a disconnect with the villagers who are dealing with AIDS, famine, poverty and war. Tickets are $49 – $200; visit mirvish.com for more information and to purchase.

ALL MONTH LONG This season at the Design Exchange, guest curator Jeanne Beker peeks into the wardrobes of iconic fashion designers and pulls out pieces that have made important political statements over the past 50 years for the exhibition “Politics of Fashion.” The striking garments lend both style and substance to longstanding ethical debates, gender issues, anti-war activism and more. General admission is $9.25 – $18.50; visit dx.org for more information and to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 3 Known for vibrant, thickly textured canvases that explore the physical and psychological connections between artist and landscape, artist Kim Dorland offers a series of new works for display at Angell Gallery. Expect pieces that continue to expand on the artist’s signature style and thematic concerns, further entrenching his position as Canada’s painter of record. Angell Gallery; 12 Ossington Ave., 416-530-0444. Open Wednesday to Saturday.

STARTS OCTOBER 12 Helen Lawrence, a new media production by visual artist Stan Douglas, mixes theatre, visual art, live action filming and computer-generated simulation in this story set in post-World War II Vancouver. Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., 416-366-1656. Tuesday to Thursday 8 p.m., Friday 7 p.m., Saturday 1 & 8 p.m., Wednesday & Sunday 1 p.m.; $30-$99; visit canadianstage.com or call 416-368-3110 to charge.

OCTOBER 17 TO 19 If you’ve ever longed to taste the recipes being made by TV chefs, the Delicious Food Show is your meal ticket. Whether you hunger for the inside scoop on trendy cuisine, advice on grilling the perfect steak, or simply a sinful chocolate cake recipe, celebrity chefs such as Tyler Florence, Chuck Hughes and Mario Batali have you covered. Join them, plus local chefs like DaiLo’s Nick Liu and Yours Truly’s Lachlan Culjak for a feast of workshops, cooking demos and food pairings. Direct Energy Centre, Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., general admission is $22; visit deliciousfoodshow.com for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 23 Giants of the literary world descend upon the waterfront for 35th edition of the International Festival of Authors. A global roster of 200-plus novelists, poets, essayists and more share their passion for the written word during 11 days of readings, panel discussions, interviews and book signings. CanLit darling Ann-Marie MacDonald, poet Dionne Brand, crime fiction novelist James Ellroy, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, Irish scribes Colm Tóibín and John Boyne, and critically acclaimed Emma Donoghue are among the expected participants. Harbourfront Centre, general admission $18 for most events; call 416-973-4000 or visit ifoa.org for a schedule and to purchase tickets.

Opera Atelier Alcina. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Opera Atelier’s Alcina starts October 23. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

STARTS OCTOBER 23  Sorceress sisters weave romantic entanglements in Alcina, the latest offering from Opera Atelier. In the company’s new, period-appropriate production of Handel’s 18th-century masterwork, the handsome Ruggiero finds himself on an island in search of the seductress Alcina; his true love, Bradamante, follows, disguised as a knight, and immediately draws the gaze of Alcina’s sister Morgana. But on this island of illusion, it’s true love that proves to be most magical. Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St., evenings at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.. Tickets are $38 - $181; call 1-855-622-2787 to charge or visit operaatelier.com for details.

OCTOBER 24 TO 26 Cask Days brings unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated brews to the masses, allowing breweries the chance to show off their hops. This year’s event has about 300 different cask-conditioned ales by 100-plus breweries from across Canada, the United States and the U.K., including Niagara Oast House, Nelson Brewery, Grizzly Paw, Microbrasserie Le Castor and Grand River Brewing. A special focus on California includes 30-plus breweries from the state. Not into ale? A number of ciders are available, too, as well as gluten-free beer options. Evergreen Brick Works, Friday 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 and up; see caskdays.com to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 Cirque du Soleil is back in Toronto, and this season the famed Montreal troupe presents a kaleidoscope of characters and objects in its latest travelling show, Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities. Under the big top, audiences are transported back to the 19th century to meet an inventor who’s able to defy time, space and even gravity—one spectacular scene even features an upside-down dinner party! Grand Chapiteau, 51 Commissioner St., Tuesday to Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 4:30 and 8 p.m., Sunday 1:30 and 5 p.m.; $50 to $160; visit cirquedusoleil.com to purchase tickets.

STARTS OCTOBER 29 Although the Toronto Raptors endured a heartbreaking end to their 2013-14 playoffs this past May, the Dinos have retained their core and begin a new season stronger than ever. Forward DeMar DeRozan, point guard Kyle Lowry and shooting guard Terrence Ross are among the returning stars who’ll take on the world’s best basketball players this fall. The Raptors start their new season at home against the Atlanta Hawks. Air Canada Centre, 7:30 p.m., $12.50 and up; call 416-366-3865 to charge.

ALSO THIS MONTH!

Cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei. Photo by Peter Holgerson, courtesy of World Press Photo.

The training regime of cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei, photographed by Peter Holgersson. Courtesy of World Press Photo.

TO OCTOBER 21 World Press Photo, the annual juried exhibition of award-winning photojournalism covering events and issues that impacted the world in 2013, is on display at Brookfield Place (181 Bay St.). Admission is free.

OCTOBER 3 The Blue Dot Tour with David Suzuki—promoting clean drinking water, fresh air and healthy food for all Canadians—comes to Massey Hall, with such special guests as Stephen Lewis, the Barenaked Ladies, Chantel Kreviazuk and Raine Maida. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 – $79.50. Visit bluedot.ca for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 4 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the annual all-night art affair, returns with more than 100 public installations, many of which invite visitors to be part of the works themselves. The free sunset-to-sunrise event expands into several new neighbourhoods, including Fort York, Chinatown and Bremner Boulevard, the latter of which hosts a magical night circus. Elsewhere, Máximo González’s installation, Walk Among Worlds, takes on political undertones by way of 7,000 beach balls to visualize first- and third-world states. Visit scotiabanknuitblanche.ca for a list of locations.

OCTOBER 5 TO 7 Part of the National Geographic Live series, award-winning photographer Steve Winter shares his experience travelling the globe in search of tigers, cougars and snow leopards. Tickets are $19.50 – $79.50. Roy Thomson Hall, October 5, 2 p.m.; October 6 and 7, 8 p.m. Visit roythomson.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 6 New York-based indie rockers We Are Scientists take the stage at The Horseshoe Tavern with guests Surfer Blood and Eternal Summers. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.50; visit horseshoetavern.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 7 TO 11 Award-winning actor, director and producer Ravi Jain and his mom Asha star in A Brimful of Asha, a family story about the search for the perfect bride. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill St., 416-203-6264.Tuesday to Saturday 9 p.m., Wednesday & Saturday 2 p.m.; $35-$55; visit soulpepper.ca or call 416-866-8666 to buy.

OCTOBER 8 Indie folk-rock chanteuse Cat Power brings her unique fusion sound to The Danforth Music Hall, 8 p.m. Tickets are $36; visit ticketmaster.ca or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 8 & 9 Pop singer-songwriter Jason Mraz plays at Massey Hall, with the show starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $55.50 – $75.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Russell Peters

Russell Peters is back bringing the laughs at the Air Canada Centre on October 9.

OCTOBER 9 Brampton, Ontario’s best-known export, Russell Peters, is back with all-new material in his latest headlining show, the Almost Famous World Tour. Hot on the heels of appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and Notorious on Netflix, Peters brings his trademark brand of wit and observation to what is sure to be a well-attended show—back in 2007, he was the first comedian to sell out the ACC. Air Canada Centre, 8 p.m. Tickets are $58.50 - $125.75; call 1-855-985-5000 or see russellpeters.com for information.

OCTOBER 10 Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Esperanza Spalding—who plays both upright bass and cello—brings her distinctive sound to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at Exhibition Place. Tickets are 49.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to charge.

OCTOBER 13 Aussie pop star Betty Who—made famous by a flash mob proposal video shot in a Home Depot that went viral—takes the stage at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club, with guests Joywave and Great Good Fine OK. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $19.50; visit livenation.com to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 14 A musical journey through the short-lived career of the legendary rock and roll pioneer, who died tragically in a plane crash, Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story features “That’ll be the Day,” “Peggy Sue” and “Everyday.” Various times. Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St., 416-314-2901. Tickets are $29 – $120; call 1-855-622-2787 or visit ticketmaster.ca to buy.

OCTOBER 15 Brit rock band Bastille makes a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre during their North American tour. Tickets are $34.50 – $42.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 16 TO 18 Bach and breakdancing may seem an unlikely combination—until you witness the Flying Steps, that is. The seven-member all-male dance troupe arrives in Toronto for one of two Canadian stops on its Red Bull Flying Bach world tour. Also featuring Swedish dancer Anna Holmström, this high-energy performance combines fast-footed jumps, head spins, jackhammers, hand hops and more choreographed to a live piano and harpsichord performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. Massey Hall, Thursday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., $25 - $70; call 416-872-4255 for tickets; see flying-steps.de for more information.

OCTOBER 18 Christine McVie rejoins her bandmates for a Fleetwood Mac North American tour, making a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. Tickets are $49.50 – $199.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 21 Bruce McCulloch, of Kids in the Hall fame, chronicles his life as a rebellious teenager in Alberta to her early days in Toronto to fatherhood in Young Drunk Punk. The show, presented by the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, combines stand-up, live music and anecdotes in the lead up to McCulloch’s new book Let’s Start a Riot: A Series of Bravery and Stupidity. General admission is $39; admission plus a copy of the book and a post-show reception is $55. Visit torontosketchfest.com or call 647-505-1050 to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 21 October is breast cancer awareness month, and Eat to the Beat provides a novel way to help. The 19th edition of this popular fundraiser for Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support has 60 of the country’s best female chefs preparing signature bites like duck breast on polenta cream, grilled cheese, brownies and pies. Local culinary favourites include Doona Dooher of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Trista Sheen of Crush Wine Bar and Bonnie Gordon of Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., $175 includes all food and beverages, 7 p.m.; call 416-778-6314 ext. 236 or see eattothebeat.ca for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 21 In the world premiere of The Bakelite Masterpiece, set in Holland following World War II, an artist accused of selling art to the Nazis must prove his innocence by painting a work by Johannes Vermeer in front of a prosecutor and art historian. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $48-$53; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 22 TO 26 The crafty and DIYers won’t want to miss the fall Creativ Festival, a massive consumer show bringing together sewing, quilting, beading, knitting, needlework, DIY decorating, crafting, scrapbooking and more. Workshops and seminars begin on October 22, while the Show Floor is open October 24 to 26, offering a chance to browse and buy a variety of goods, including fabrics, fibres, papers, beads, patterns, tools, books, kits and equipment. Show Floor hours are Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission for one day is $4 – $15, and a three-day pass is $25 ($5 for students with valid ID). Hands-on classes and seminars are an extra cost. Visit creativfestival.com for more information or to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 24 The ever-bold Irish singer Sinead O’Connor brings her incredible voice to Massey Hall. Tickets are $49.50 – $79.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Art Toronto

Art Toronto brings together contemporary art from around the world. Photo courtesy of Art Toronto.

OCTOBER 24 TO 27 The 15th annual Art Toronto, a modern and contemporary fine art fair, will feature more than 100 galleries from Canada and around the world. There will be a feature exhibition by Quebec-based collective BGL, as well as fair tours and expert talks. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W.; visit arttoronto.ca for ticket info and further details.

OCTOBER 25 Feist, Sarah Harmer, Jason Collett, Hayden, Lou Canon, Kevin Hearn and other musicians will come together for the first annual Dream Serenade Benefit Concert at Massey Hall in support of services for children with developmental disabilities. Tickets are $50 – $200; visit masseyhall.com or call 416-872-4255 to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 In the Henrik Ibsen drama An Enemy of the People, a doctor discovers that his town’s baths are contaminated and must decide if he should inform the public of the health risk or keep it to himself to prevent the local economy from collapsing. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $25-$48; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 27 Canadian synth-pop darling Lights brings her sparkling tunes to The Danforth Music Hall with special guest Rush Midnight. Tickets are $35; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

DeMar DeRozan Continues to Grow with the Toronto Raptors

Despite some rough patches, DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors are making strides this year.

BY CRAIG MOY

DeMar DeRozan Toronto Raptors Basketball NBA

Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (photo: Toronto Raptors)

One of the more intimate pleasures afforded to fans of professional sports is that we get to see our favourite players grow up right in front of us. Forget “rooting for the home team,” look past the highlight reels. If you follow pro sports what you’re really doing is following athletes as they go to work, as they try each day to do a better job than the day before, as they develop their skills, as they mature.

Toronto Raptors supporters know what it’s like. Over the franchise’s 17 years in the NBA, it seems as though we’ve always had at least one talented kid to urge on to greatness. First there was plucky point guard Damon Stoudamire, then Vince Carter, and after him Chris Bosh. This season, we have witnessed the emergence of DeMar DeRozan.

(more…)

Weekend Roundup: January 18 to 20

These weekend events and performances are guaranteed to make your time in Toronto even more memorable!

Toronto Weekend Events

Discover the secrets of James Bond at the TIFF Bell Lightbox (photo: Photofest)

007′s Final Days
There is an art to mixing a martini: shaken, not stirred. There’s also an art to making the man: Bond, James Bond. This weekend marks your last chance to see Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style, a major TIFF Bell Lightbox exhibition of the costumes, props, gadgets and more that have helped fashion the movie world’s most famous secret agent.

Spanish Steps
Dancers from the award-winning company Noche Flamenca use movement to navigate the tension between love and loss, vulnerability and strength, and heart and soul. Featuring Soledad Barrio, the troupe demonstrates that there a few art forms as powerful as flamenco dance this Friday at the Royal Conservatory‘s Koerner Hall.

(more…)

Upcoming Games Against the Lakers and Heat Mark the Toronto Raptors’ Schedule

Raptors point Guard Kyle Lowry is working hard to keep his team competitive (photo: Toronto Raptors)

ON NOW  Two months of competition are behind us in this latest NBA season, and although the Toronto Raptors upcoming schedule is hardly a walk in the park, the team will look to benefit from a prolonged homestand as it continues trying to claw its way toward respectability. The hard-nosed leadership of point guard Kyle Lowry has rubbed off on the likes of DeMar DeRozan—finally emerging as a consistent offensive threat—while rookies Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas are getting better with every game. Don’t miss some of the squad’s most hotly anticipated contests of 2013 when they take on the star-laden Los Angeles Lakers (January 20) and Miami Heat (February 3). Air Canada Centre, $12.50 and up; call 416-366-3865 or visit raptors.com for a full schedule and to buy.  —Ana Taveira

Weekend Roundup: November 23 to 25

Terminus opens the “Off-Mirvish” series

Friday, November 23
Fresh to the Royal Alexandra Theatre this week, Terminus is the inaugural production for the Off-Mirvish stage season, which highlights original and daring theatrical works. Described as a spoken-word Irish rap-opera, the show chronicles the wildly imaginative but twisted tale of one supernatural night in Dublin. In an enticing twist, the audience is actually seated on the stage while the performance transpires against the backdrop of balconies and chandeliers in the historic Royal Alex.

It’s a big night for music as legendary British rock band The Who rolls into town to play their classic 1973 double album Quadrophenia in its entirety. Original band members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are sure to give audiences a concert to remember as they take over the Air Canada Centre.

What’s that? You want more tunes? The head to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which tonight hosts the Molson Canadian House Concert series. Part of the 100th Grey Cup Festival, the event features Canadian hit makers Matthew Good, Sam Roberts Band and Treble Charger.

Ceramic maple syrup bottles by Marianne Chenard are just one of many products at the One of a Kind Show

Saturday, November 24
Get a head start on all your holiday shopping at the One of a Kind Christmas Show, a huge expo of quality handmade-in-North America goods by more than 800 artists, designers and craftspeople. With cool jewellery, cutting-edge clothing, fine art, ceramics and much more, it’s easy to find something for everyone on your list.

Get in the festive spirit at Toronto’s waterfront neighbourhood opens its annual Winterfest celebrations. Among the opportunities for family fun: visit Santa’s workshop in Queen’s Quay Terminal, where your kids can create holiday ornaments, greeting cards and even decorate an elf hat.

Homegrown indie-rock sensation Metric returns to Toronto tonight after a long haul of concerts abroad. Promoting its 5th studio album, Synthetica, which has been described as “sonically futuristic yet organic,” the band led by vocalist Emily Haines brings a hip and eclectic sound to the Air Canada Centre. Fellow Canadians Stars take the stage to open the show.

Can the Toronto Argos relive their 1990s glory days and bring home a Grey Cup championship?

Sunday, November 25
Celebrating its incredible 100th anniversary, the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup championship game has extra significance for Toronto—our hometown Argonauts will be there, fighting for the endzone against the Calgary Stampeders. The game itself is sold out, you can still get in on the action at the Nissan Family Zone at Yonge-Dundas Square and the Adrenaline Zone at Nathan Phillips Square. There’s also a huge tailgate party and ribfest taking place outside the Rogers Centre, to get you ready for the big game.

After three tough games on the road, the Toronto Raptors return to the Air Canada Centre. Their job, however, doesn’t get any easier; today they’re matched up against basketball powerhouse the San Antonio Spurs. Can DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry continue their effective play? Will Andrea Bargnani finally produce a full effort on both ends of the floor? Learn the answers to these and other Raps-related queries this afternoon!

A classic fairy tale gets the song, dance and comedy treatment from Toronto’s best-known theatrical satirist, Ross Petty, in Snow White the Deliciously Dopey Family Musical. Canadian Idol winner Melissa O’Neil is the “fairest maiden of them all” in this zany pantomime filled with humourous pop-culture references.

Weekend Roundup: November 9 to 11

The Little Years offers period drama at Tarragon Theatre

Friday, November 9
Starting this weekend, audiences can hearken back to The Little Years courtesy of Tarragon Theatre and award-winning Toronto-based playwright John Mighton. The critically acclaimed drama story follows a young woman in the 1950s as she struggles with the transition from life as a precocious teen to the harsher reality of adulthood.

Celebrating the art of voice and story, the Festival of Oral Literatures showcases a wide variety of talented poets, theatre artists, storytellers, spoken-word artists and even beatbox performers this weekend at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Tonight, the pay-what-you-can “House Made of Stories” program features Jan Blake, Susan Coyne, Ron Evans and more.

Check out all the hilarity as the Just For Laughs Comedy Tour comes chuckling into Toronto to tackle the theme of relationships—everything from marriage to dating to family, plus all the humorous complications in between. An all-star cast of comics includes Debra DiGiovanni,Saturday Night Live alum Jim Breuer, host John Heffron and more. Don’t miss all the hysterical insights tonight at Massey Hall.

Alice dances down the rabbit hole again (photo: Cylla von Tiedemann)

Saturday, November 10
Tumble down the rabbit hole once again as the National Ballet of Canada brings its hugely successful Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland back to the Four Seasons Centre. Opening tonight, the production combines classical dance with imaginative design to transport the entire family to a magical new world.

The Toronto Raptors one-win and four-loss record to start the current NBA season belies the team’s promise. Will point guard Kyle Lowry be back in the lineup after suffering an ankle sprain earlier in the week? Can Andrea Bargnani rediscover his shooting stroke? Can the team put together four full quarters of effort and pull off its second victory? Find out tonight as the dinos take on the Philadelphia 76ers at the Air Canada Centre.

Often compared to other Canadian greats like Ron Sexsmith and Rufus Wainwright, Toronto-based singer-songwriter, arranger and producer Royal Wood tonight swings by the historic Winter Garden Theatre. A soulful crooner known for heart-wrenching ballads, Wood changes his tune slightly on his new album, which offers more up-tempo tunes.

Mats Sundin takes part in the Hockey Hall of Fame’s induction weekend festivities

Sunday, November 11
The NHL season may be on hold, but there’s no reason you can’t get your fix. This weekend, the Hockey Hall of Fame gets set to welcome Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Joe Sakic and Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin as its newest members. Today’s Induction Weekend celebrations include a Q&A session with the honourees, followed by the Legends Classic game, featuring top players from years gone by.

With over 75 speakers and 200 exhibitors, the Whole Life Expo is the largest event of its kind in Canada. Shop for the latest in health and beauty products, explore alternative and natural approaches to medicine and care, and get great advice on living an eco-friendly life!

Today marks your final opportunity to check out the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Fun for the whole family, the 90th annual event combines a farm and livestock show with an equestrian competition, plus delicious food, giant vegetable displays, dog shows and more.

 

 

Where Loves: The 2012-13 Toronto Raptors

By EVA VOINIGESCU

Kyle Lowry’s hard-nosed style has endeared him to Toronto hoops fans (photo: Toronto Raptors)

The NHL lockout has for the moment sidelined Toronto sports fans’ primary passion. Fortunately there’s more than one game in town. Last week the Toronto Raptors began a new season with a promising one-two scoring punch and a beefed up defense that could help return Canada’s only NBA team to respectability.

It’s hard to predict how the rest of the year will play out after just five games. but Raptors fans have reason for optimism. Despite a disappointing 20-point loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Toronto’s 1-4 record belies its competitiveness. Were it not for a few poor quarters, the squad could easily be sitting above the .500 mark; once the Raptors find their bearings within a new system and with new players, they’ll have a strong chance to contend for a coveted Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Head coach Dwane Casey spent much of last year instilling a defence-first attitude; this year the team hopes to show further improvement by turning its stopping power into fast-break points. Thus far that game plan has been inconsistently executed, but if the players can maintain their defensive pressure and nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic, it seems clear that they’ll be embraced by Toronto sports fans and hopefully rack up some victories. Flashes of potential have certainly been displayed by the high-scoring backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. New addition Lowry opened the season with three consecutive 20-plus point games (before incurring an ankle sprain against the Thunder), while DeRozan’s improved defence and rebounding, combined with offensive aggression, continues to pay off.

DeMar DeRozan has been a consistent performer so far (photo: Toronto Raptors)

Meanwhile, after a successful pre-season, much-hyped rookie Jonas Valanciunas is still learning how to match his skills against more sizable NBA centers. Worrisome, too, is veteran power forward Andrea Bargnani. Back on the court after an injury-plagued 2011/12, he has yet to find his shooting stroke, and his effort on the glass is still rather suspect. However, increased depth at the point guard, wing and forward positions should help the team’s chances and ensure that injuries will be less problematic than in previous years.

The Raptors are in tough for the coming month, with 12 of the team’s next 17 games on the road. When they do manage to make it back to the Air Canada Centre, you can catch them against the Philadelphia 76ers on November 12, the Utah Jazz on November 12 and the Orlando Magic on November 18.

Where in Toronto: Ghosts of Seasons Past

Jose Bautista leads the Jays into a hopeful new season (photo courtesy of the Toronto Blue Jays)

Ever since Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista graced the cover of Where Toronto’s April issue, it seems as though I’ve been seeing the team everywhere. No—I wish I’d been running into the likes of Adam Lind and Ricky Romero around town; I mean that I’ve started noticing Jays hats, sweatshirts, merchandise in the windows of every sporting-goods store, and, of course, even an entire section dedicated to the Jays in Sears at the Eaton Centre. It might be that I’m just beginning to take notice of our hometown team, or maybe it’s just Toronto getting into the spring swing of things. (more…)

Hot Date: Will the Raptors Finish Strong?

TO APRIL 26 Fans of the Toronto Raptors didn’t expect their team to make this year’s NBA playoffs—it’s been a rebuilding season, after all. But the hard-working squad can still make things tough on the competition as the regular season winds down. Among the best dates to cheer on Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and company: April 11 against the athletic Philadelphia 76ers, April 13 versus the hated Boston Celtics, and April 16, when the Atlanta Hawks fly into town. Air Canada Centre; call 1-885-985-5000 or visit here for more information and tickets.

Where in Toronto: Springin’ Forward

Spend a sunny spring day exploring the Evergreen Brick Works (photo by Craig Moy)

This week, seemingly just as I had become comfortable using it, I left the sheltered PATH system in favour of my original ground-level route between Union Station and Where‘s offices on Queen Street. I traded my Ugg boots for flats, switched my winter coat for a light spring jacket and strutted up Yonge Street. With the sun in my face and the snow gone (or rather, averted), it seemed as though hibernation season had ended. Thermometers have already donned double-digit temperatures, after all—the sort of warmth we don’t typically feel until April; It’s only mid-March, but the timing is perfect to get a head start on spring.

What’s the first thing to do under these conditions?
Get out. Out of the house, the office, wherever. Just
get outside. We don’t get much time to spend outdoors, comfortably at least, so it’s best to take advantage of the few months we do get. And Toronto has a plethora of ways that city dwellers can enjoy
the pleasant weather. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: January 6-8

Friday: Demar DeRozan looks to lead the Raptors to a third straight victory

Friday, January 6
The NBA lockout finally concluded on Christmas day, the shortened basketball season is starting to pick up and our hometown Raptors are on a two-game winning streak. Cheer them on tonight as they take on the New Jersey Nets (including former “Mr. Kardishian” Kris Humphries) at the Air Canada Centre.

The Next Stage Theatre Festival is back for another year at Factory Theatre. The festival’s first weekend features top independent stage shows including The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A-Go-Go! and Living with Henry.

Drama meets punk rock as Broadway smash American Idiot continues its short-term run at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Featuring tunes such as “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from Green Day’s Grammy-winning album, this contemporary musical is not to be missed.

(more…)

Weekend Roundup, December 17th to 19th

It’s the final weekend before Christmas and there is a lot more to do in the city than just shop. If you’re looking for a break from holiday cheer or hoping to dive into it a week early Toronto’s got you covered.

Friday: Rock on with Alexisonfire

Friday, December 17th
The classic tale of Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas premieres tonight at the Sony Centre. This holiday favourite is given the Broadway treatment with fantastic sets, terrific costumes and all-new songs.

St. Catharines natives Alexisonfire return to their roots with an all-ages show tonight at Sound Academy. Expect to rock out to tunes from their recent album, Old Crows/Young Cardinals, as well as many of their past hits.

Television personality Gerry Dee brings his comedic stylings to the Panasonic Theatre stage with his Gerry Dee and Friends Holiday Show. Canadian comedians Darrin Rose and Frank Spadone also drop in for so stand-up hilarity.

Saturday: See the intriguing movements of Studies in Motion (photo by Tim Matheson)

Saturday, December 18th
Climb aboard the Mariposa Cruises’ Northern Spirit ship for its family-oriented Santa Cruise. This afternoon tour of the Toronto harbour offers children the chance to meet Santa and his elves while taking in Toronto’s iconic skyline.

Tonight presents your last chance to see Studies in Motion at the St. Lawrence Centre’s Bluma Appel Theatre. The well-reviewed play examines the life of the brilliant yet troubled artist Eadweard Muybridge.

The Toronto Children’s Chorus performs tonight at Roy Thomson Hall. Ruth Watson Henderson’s The Last Straw will be sung by the ensemble’s 300-plus children. Its 150-voice Alumni Choir is also be featured as part of this joyous concert.

Sunday: Cheer on Andrea Bargnani and the Raptors

Sunday, December 19th
The Los Angeles Lakers may be one of the most imposing squads in the National Basketball Association, but somehow our Toronto Raptors always manage to put up a good fight. Head to the Air Canada Centre this afternoon to see if Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson and the rest of the Raptors can come out on top.

Catch a performance of Stephen Sondheim’s hilarious farce, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, at the Canon Theatre. This baudy musical is sure to have you rolling in the aisles.

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without Handel’s Messiah. Today you can hear it twice: the Toronto Symphony Orchestra offers “Toronto’s Biggest Messiah” at Roy Thomson Hall—featuring more than 60 instruments—while the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir encourage audience participation in its Sing-Along Messiah, a long-time Toronto tradition.