An ode to Honest Ed’s, a Bob Dylan musical, and six other things to do in Toronto this week
An ode to Honest Ed’s
1Honest Ed’s twinkling sign no longer lights up the corner of Bloor and Bathurst, but artist Kristan Klimczak has preserved the landmark in her new exhibition and accompanying coffee table book, You Lucky People, named after cheery signs throughout the building that say, “This way, you lucky people.” When she heard the historic site had been sold to a condo developer, she set out to capture its most candid moments: shoppers trying on $5 parkas, parents introducing their kids to the labyrinthine store, and long-time employees whiling away their shifts. The resulting collection of 60 black-and-white photos chronicles the final days of a quintessentially Toronto space and the people who helped create its peculiar magic. September 12 to October 12, Weird Things.
Rooms with a view
2The wildly popular millennial women’s website Refinery29 is getting into the experience business with 29Rooms: Expand Your Reality, an immersive multi-city art park comprised of 29 rooms, each featuring a different installation, performance or creative workshop. At September’s Toronto stop of what the organizers call a “real-life wonderland,” headliners include mixed-media artist Hannah Epstein (a.k.a. hanski) and Trust No Aunty author Maria Qamar (a.k.a. Hatecopy). Think of it as the AGO meets Burning Man meets the ultimate Instagram opportunity. September 26 to October 6, Exhibition Place.
A Bob Dylan musical
3Bob Dylan gets more than a standard jukebox musical with Girl From the North Country, an ambitious drama, written by the acclaimed Irish playwright Conor McPherson and scored by 19 songs from Dylan’s catalogue. Set at the height of the Great Depression, it tells the intertwined tales of 13 people—including a preacher, a boxer and a pregnant teenager—whose desperate lives converge at a boarding house in Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan’s birthplace. The show arrives in Toronto after ecstatic reviews in London. September 28 to November 4, Royal Alexandra Theatre.
A conversational concert
4Whether he’s fronting the Bad Seeds, starring in Australian prison thrillers or writing Southern Gothic–inspired novels heavy on religious delusions, Nick Cave doesn’t really do the light stuff. Fittingly, his newest tour, “Conversations With,” is billed as “an evening of talk and music” (though Cave has described it as “an exercise in connectivity”). His piano stylings will punctuate the sure-to-be-spirited back and forth between artist and audience. September 28, Convocation Hall.
A triumphant aria
5Puccini’s fairy-tale opera Turandot, set in a mythical China, features possibly the world’s most famous tenor aria, one imbued with a sense of triumph that has made it a favourite song at sporting events. In the opera, it’s sung by Calaf, a prince in love with the beautiful but icy Turandot, who will marry the man who correctly answers her three riddles and behead those who fail. This is grand opera, making huge demands on soloists, chorus and orchestra, though Robert Wilson’s austere staging is happily free of the usual kitschy chinoiserie. Tamara Wilson and Marjorie Owens alternate in the daunting title role. September 28 to October 27, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
A fear-fest at Wonderland
6If riding the Yukon Striker isn’t terrifying enough for you, the annual Halloween Haunt is on at Canada’s Wonderland. In addition to all the usual thrills and chills, there will be freak shows, scare zones, a vampire disco and haunted, scare-your-pants-off mazes, plus roaming zombies and ghouls and monsters galore—all in the dark. Weekends from September 27 to October 27, Canada’s Wonderland.
Ongoing: The inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art
7A swarm of 100 robotic butterflies are programmed to respond to seismic frequencies. Portraits of Indigenous women are lit up by LED fireboxes. These and 100 more installations will occupy 10 sites along the waterfront for Toronto’s inaugural Biennial of Art. Its curators are hoping their show will attract cultural capital, as biennials do for cities like Venice, Gwangju and São Paulo. They’re also asking the 90-plus artists, including art-world stars like Judy Chicago and Maria Thereza Alves, to consider in their works the Indigenous, immigrant and settler histories that shaped Toronto. Saturday, September 21 to Sunday, December 1. Free. Various locations.
A #metoo must-read
8From Robyn Doolittle, the Toronto reporter who helped break the Rob Ford crack scandal and launched a deep investigation into Canada’s ineffectual enforcement of sexual assault laws, comes Had It Coming, a subtler set of essays on how the fall of powerful men—and the attendant online fury—has (and hasn’t) changed sexual mores in 2019. September 24, Penguin Random House.