Home Alone in concert, a Beatles singalong and seven other things to do in Toronto this week
A feel-good schmaltz-fest
1Sure, it’s a tale of criminally negligent parents, wildly persistent burglars, and an eight-year-old with a penchant for Tarantino-esque violence, but there’s just something so darn heartwarming about Home Alone. For the third year running, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents Home Alone in Concert, complete with popcorn, hot chocolate and—oh yeah—the full orchestra performing John Williams’s sensational score. Mississauga’s Resonance Youth Choir lend their angelic voices to the scene where Kevin visits a church on Christmas Eve. December 6 and 7, Roy Thomson Hall.
A Beatles singalong
2Ones: Beatles #1 Hits will have you belting in your best Liverpudlian accent. Led by recording artist Frank Zirone alongside four other vocalists, Ones recreates note-perfect covers of all the Beatles’ number-one hits—close your eyes and you’ll swear it’s the Fab Four sending all their loving to you. The Penny Lane Strings play songs like “Eleanor Rigby” and “Yesterday,” while former Q107 host Al Joynes narrates multimedia stories for the show. For maximum authenticity, Ones will feature nearly two dozen musicians, playing through ’60s-era amplifiers. December 7, Meridian Hall.
A footie musical
3Take an inspirational sports story, set it in a South Asian immigrant community, add a big dose of girl power, and you have Bend It Like Beckham, the 2002 smash movie about a British Sikh teenager and her passion for “footie” (soccer, to you Yanks). Harnessing the film’s feel-good energy, writer-director Gurinder Chadha has turned it into a stage musical, which makes its North American debut in Toronto with songs—by Howard Goodall and Phantom of the Opera’s Charles Hart—that blend Broadway-style balladry with Punjabi bhangra music and dance. December 7 to 24, Bluma Appel Theatre.
A synthy show
4With Perez Hilton’s approval as an “instant gay icon” and a wardrobe that rivals Lady Gaga’s, Raffaela Weyman—better known as Ralph, inspired by her favourite character from The Magic School Bus—is next in line for the title of Toronto’s new queen of pop. Influenced by her hippie parents and their massive vinyl collection, her music takes notes from the icons of the latter half of the 20th century: Prince’s exuberance, Joni Mitchell’s one-two-punch lyrics and the Supremes’ femme power ballads. Fresh off a tour with fellow Canadian pop queen Carly Rae Jepsen, Ralph is bringing her self-described “sexy disco falsetto realness”—along with her neon jumpsuits and sky-high rainbow platform sneakers—back to her hometown for a dance-fuelled solo show. December 5, Mod Club.
The ultimate redemption arc
5Soulpepper’s annual production of A Christmas Carol has become as much of a Toronto holiday mainstay as sipping mulled wine at the Distillery Christmas Market. For the 13th year, theatre veteran Michael Shamata—who also delved into Dickens back in 1996 with an adaption of Great Expectations—reunites OG grinch Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim on stage for the ultimate Yuletide ghost story. Whether it’s your first time seeing the show or your 13th, a box of Kleenex is highly recommended. December 6 to 24, Young Centre for the Performing Arts.
The other Russian winter’s tale
6This holiday season, The Nutcracker isn’t the only fairy tale transporting us back to Imperial Russia. Anastasia, the glittering Broadway musical inspired by the beloved 1997 animated film, retells the saga of Anya, an amnesiac orphan who turns out to be the sole surviving member of Russia’s deposed royal family. For Anya’s journey to the past, songwriters Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty of Ragtime fame interweave a new score with popular tunes from the movie. Terrence McNally’s adaptation adds a pinch of sophistication and historical colour to turn the kids’ story into romantic all-ages fare. December 3 to January 12, Ed Mirvish Theatre.
A Latin song through the ages
7The Tallis Scholars, an a cappella group of 10 singers, are best known for their mastery of Renaissance choral works, but The Tallis Scholars: Reflections also includes pieces by 20th-century composers Poulenc and Messiaen, thanks to an illuminating curatorial approach that makes text, not era, the program’s organizing principle. Each program item puts the same well-known Latin text into the hands of composers from the Renaissance up to the 20th century and from Europe to Mexico. The styles may be vastly different, but the fervour remains the same. December 8, Koerner Hall.
A Mozart marriage
8Figaro’s Wedding updates Mozart’s classic opera to present-day Toronto. Sung in a wickedly clever English translation by Against the Grain founder Joel Ivany, and with the audience seated as guests at a millennial wedding, the show captures the joy, heartbreak and sheer chaos that’s been an integral part of the marriage ceremony since Mozart’s day. Bruno Roy as Figaro and Ally Smither as Susanna, his betrothed, lead a talented cast of fine young singing actors under the musical direction of Rachael Kerr. December 3 to 20, Enoch Turner Schoolhouse.
An impressive neo-impressionist
9Darlene Cole’s soft, hazy paintings feel like half-remembered, Renoir-inspired dreams: gardens burst with flowers, young girls wade into the frothy waves of a lake, or, in one memorable picture, sit cross-legged in the shadow of a towering elk. To celebrate 20 years of representing the artist, Bau-Xi Gallery presents Entwine, a solo exhibition of her work, which has shown across Canada, the United States and the U.K. December 7 to 21, Bau-Xi Gallery.