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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The top live theatre shows in Toronto September 2014

September theatre torontoEach month we profile a collection of shows opening soon in Toronto.

True / Citizenry / September 3-13 / $24

Celebrated playwright Rosa Labordé explores the confining qualities of memory in the Fringe-lauded True, about three sisters who must confront the past when their estranged father unexpectedly re-enters their lives. Boasting a talented cast, Layne Coleman, Shannon Taylor, Ingrid Doucet, Sabrina Grdevich and Scott McCord, and some of the city's best designers, Thomas Ryder-Payne, Trevor Schwellnus and Lindsay Walker, there's a reason this one returns for a remount.

Glenn / Soulepper - Young Centre / September 2 - October 1 / $29-$74

David Young's musically-inspired portrait of one of our creative treasures, Glenn Gould, is a Canadian classic. Gould's two distinct versions of Bach's The Goldberg Variations serve as a structuring device for the playwright, who explores four sides of the musician's genius: Prodigy, Perfectionist, Performer and Puritan. Under direction from Diana Leblanc, Jeff Lillico, Mike Ross, Steven Sutcliffe, and Brent Carver bring the music of the pianist to life.

KURIOS / Grand Chapiteau Tent / August 28 - October 26 / $50-$160

An enchanting and whimsical narrative anchors Cirque du Soleil's newest spectacle, KURIOS - Cabinet of Curiosities. Reality is turned on its head inside the curio cabinet of an imaginative inventor who toys with notions of time and space in a desire to explore the limits of possibility. With acrobatic feats and comic scenes, all seemingly given the steampunk treatment, we're curious to pull back the cabinet door and take a peek at what's inside.

Wicked / Ed Mirvish Theatre / September 3 - November 2 / $36-$100+

The story of Glinda and Elphaba, not exactly your Thelma and Louise tale, journeys back to Oz at a time before Dorthy and her house ever toppled into Munchkinland. Wicked took Broadway by storm in 2003, harnessing the popularity of the original film but also by delivering a clever and engaging story. Since Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel originated the leading roles, international tours have keep the musical traveling and here it arrives back in Toronto to set the witch record straight.

Much Ado About Nothing / Spadina Museum / September 10-27 / $25

Single Thread Theatre returns to the Spadina Museum with their WWI treatment of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. When the decorated soldiers return home to Canada after defending their country's freedom, sought after merriment is accompanied by a little mischief. The young company has been gaining momentum as of late with site-specific shows at historic sites across the city -- the Campbell House, the Mackenzie House, and Fort York.

Freda and Jem's Best of the Week / Buddies in Bad Times / September 18 - October 5 / $20-37

Judith Thompson directs Freda and Jem's Best of the Week, a play concerned with the changing nature of love and family in the face of the end days of a long-term relationship. After falling in love and building a family, Freda and Jem say goodbye to their same-sex partnership in their own unique and beautiful way. The play explores how queer culture charts its own path towards family creation and also separation.

Photo by Jesse Milns

by Keith Bennie via blogTO

Labour Day events in Toronto

Labour Day TorontoLabour Day in Toronto is your last chance to wear white before risking the ire of the city's fashion police. If the rules are getting you down, run away from your worries to picnic and dance at Electric Island, featuring Jamie XX, Tale of Us, and more. Try not to get barbeque sauce on your white shir- well, nevermind, RIP summer, it's better to burn out than to fade away. Condiments, come at me!

Videofag's Feminist Film Screening Series will show Born in Flames (bring your own snacks). Today and tomorrow are your last chances to gorge yourself at the CNE, and today is the last day to strain your neck watching the air show. Possible excuse to make it a four day weekend? A day of rest and laundry. For more events, click on over to our events section.

Have an event you'd like to plug? Submit your own listing to the blogTO Toronto events calendar or contact us directly.

Photo of Electric Island via Facebook

by Aubrey Jax via blogTO

Summer's End at the CNE

New TTC streetcars hit the road on Spadina

toronto new streetcarFor the first time in 35 years, a new generation of streetcar is on the road in Toronto. Following years of design and construction and months of conspicuous road testing, two of the 204 new cars entered service on the 510 Spadina route this morning.

Several hundred people turned out for the occasion, some of whom had been waiting more than three hours. "I was here at 7:00, I came out to be the first one," said Adam West, who was third in the line-up of about 100 people. "It's fun. I call myself Mr. First. I do a lot of things first."

Metallica's Enter Sandman thumped over the loudspeaker as the first streetcar, number 4403, broke through a banner strung across the track at Spadina station. The song "seemed right," said TTC spokesman Brad Ross.

toronto new streetcarThe first passengers were mostly reporters and TTC officials. Many of the people who had waited in line specifically to ride the new streetcar were forced to take the second vehicle, such was the size of the crowd.

"It feels awesome," said Mazin Aribi, the co-vice chair of the TTC's Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit, who uses a wheelchair and was one of the first people to board the new streetcar.

"It will make a huge difference. Downtown is run by streetcars that are not accessible and finally today, for the first time in many, many years, it is wheelchair accessible, so finally I can use it. It's opening a lot of doors for us. We can go anywhere we want. It's a great day."

toronto new streetcarThe low-floor, air-conditioned vehicles have room for up to 251 people, 50 more than the TTC's current articulated ALRV streetcars, and 119 more than CRLV model used on most other lines. Blue buttons on the doors summon a retractable ramp and there are two bicycle docks on board each vehicle for use outside rush hour. Best of all, the new streetcars are heated and air conditioned.

Apart from the plush new surroundings, riders will notice another key difference on Spadina--fare vending machines. The red boxes located on the streetcars and at each platform accept cash or tokens and issue paper transfers. Drivers are no longer responsible for accepting payments and newly hired fare enforcement officers are patrolling the line.

toronto new streetcarDignitaries on hand for the launch included Finance Minister Joe Oliver, Ontario transportation minister Steven Del Duca, and mayoral hopeful Olivia Chow. "I live at Spadina and College, so I take the streetcar all the time," said Chow, the only one of the leading candidates to attend (Rob Ford was a no show, of course.) "My mum is on a wheelchair half the time so the fact this is low floor is really going to help."

The TTC plans to keep adding new streetcars to Spadina until the end of the year, though an ongoing strike at Bombardier's Thunder Bay production plant could put the schedule in jeopardy.

toronto new streetcarAs it stands, 511 Bathurst will be added in early 2015, followed by 509 Harbourfront and 505 Dundas in 2015 and 2016. The 501 Queen route will come online in 2016 and 2017, followed by 504 King (2017,) 512 St. Clair (2017/2018,) 502 Downtowner (2018,) 503 Kingston Road (2018,) and finally 506 Carlton, which is due to round off the process in 2019.

The current streetcars entered service between 1979 and 1989. The TTC hasn't said when it will begin scrapping its CLRVs and ALRVs--both will remain in service beside the new streetcars, for now.

new ttc streetcartoronto new streetcartoronto new streetcartoronto new streetcartoronto new streetcarChris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Christian Bobak/blogTO

by Chris Bateman via blogTO

The top 10 events in Toronto for September 2014

september events torontoThe top events in Toronto this September won't allow us much time to mourn the passing (or almost-passing, we hope) of summer. Lit fans will browse books at Word on the Street, runners will honour Terry Fox, foodies will gorge at AwesTRUCK and Dîner en Blanc, and Taste of the Kingsway and Roncy's Polish Fest will bring neighbours together, but then there's TIFF and Mike Tyson, standing over us with fist raised and saying "this is an event."

Here are our picks for can't-miss events in Toronto this September.

TIFF - September 4-14

"I'm trying to show what it's like to be human and to be alive" Roy Andersson told The Guardian this week. The Toronto International Film Festival's 38th year will be the second festival to show Andersson's A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence , nearly a decade in the making. He claims this will not be his last film, and we expect this will not be our last TIFF whirlwind, but who can say? Life quivers before an uncertain future - even these lives. Our advice for this mortal plane: best-of-fest, hype, CanCon, docs, staff-picks, foreign.

Riot Fest - September 6-7 - Downsview Park

How does a band come to define one's sense of self - is it because we form our identities during the moments of greatest turmoil - moments when we also relied on the emotional support of Robert Smith and Ben Gibbard? Pop music is perhaps our generation's most beloved crutch and illusionary cloak, yet it also acts as an adhesive between us wandering and lonesome generation-whatevers, a rare glue in a craft cabinet containing rows upon rows of decorative ornaments but very little instruments of support. The Cure, Metric, and The National headline.

Inland - September 6-7 - 99 Sudbury

My good Canadian mother scorned fashion - clothing was a practicality. To cover oneself from the biting elements as cheaply as possible: thrift shops, sale-watching, coupon-cutting, and bushels of hand-me-downs wrapped in black plastic. Please let there be something cute in there. "Do you dress yourself?" two girls ask with a snicker, and I knew the question was cruel. "Yes." Would my mother have taken me to a two-day shopping experience featuring 80 Canadian designers? If I asked her to, of course.

Dirtybird BBQ - September 7 - Sherbourne Common

Any new project entails risk. A San Francisco barbecue among friends. A record label. A tour. Suddenly you're a chef on the road with DJs like Claude Von Stroke, Justin Martin, J. Phlip, and Christian Martin, and Canadians unknown to you are complaining that they have to pay $25 to enter a park you've never seen where you plan to cook them free BBQ all day until supplies run out. And supplies will run out, but you believe people will have a good time. A friend from SF will text "how's Canada?" and you'll reply, "Awesome."

Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth - Sept 10 - ACC

What's more real than a live Mike Tyson one-man-show tell-all? The hair standing up on the back of your neck as you walk home on the evening you finally get over the first heartbreak of your teenage life. You weren't even aware you were healing until you realize you made it through the darkness. You can love again. Your heart will go on. Why are you wearing a Slipknot shirt? That moment can't be re-lived, but Mike Tyson's facial tattoo and your capacity for life are still kicking.

Beer Week - September 12-20

You were never into crafts. Yet these labels with their intricate artwork cleverly referencing endless idioms that subtly resonate with your diverse pop/cultural heritage are pleasing - you become something of a light fetishist. You enjoy letting your eyes run over the unique labels and you indulge in a craft cruise or two. Your Tinder bio includes a few descriptors but "beer snob" becomes a defining call. You love the taste but you also love the idea. Your strong hands caress a 50-venue map via smart phone.

Ukrainian Fest - September 12 - 14 - Bloor West Village between Jane St. and Glendowynne

My baba never taught me to make pysanky but her hospital bed was shrouded with bright and intricate hand embroidery and she would have taught me had she not been firmly housed in the dusk of her abilities. Dark hours have haunted Kiev throughout the ages and this year, yet in Toronto a vibrant community celebrates rather than despairs. To spend hours detailing one of nature's most delicate creations is to triumph over fear.

JFL42 - September 18 - 27

It's impossible to bullshit about a comedy festival. When you see a comedy show at JFL42, you can check in via smart phone for a credit to see another show for free. Headliners Seth Meyers, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, Joe Rogan, and Nick Offerman sit at the top tier of 42 acts in venues around the city. The festival links this classic pug video from their website.

Manifesto Festival - September 18-21

Sometimes a stacked program (music/art/dance/beer/food/all-the-things) reads as a gimmick. Mad respect for those whose multidisciplinary line-ups denote an obvious and refreshing enthusiasm. Here's the art show deets, and here's our photo roundup from last year. Manifesto's hip hop love-in is one of the year's best Yonge-Dundas Square take-overs.

Junction Music Fest - September 20

I propose we end festivals of any kind in the Junction. While some of my compatriots enjoy riffling through the remains of these festivities, the influx of smells is more than mildly disruptive to my delicate senses. Added to that, meandering through even lightly intoxicated revellers means we'll likely never make it to the bus stop at Keele, and I will be unable to perform my marking upkeep. Please inform The Sadies, Kashka, and Teenage Kicks they are not welcome. Sincerely, Mr. Snugglesworth, Junction Community Pug Leader.

Photo of the Manifesto Festival

by Aubrey Jax via blogTO

What open streets used to look like in Toronto

Open Streets Toronto HistoryThe second edition of Open Streets TO takes place today, so what better time than now to recall what Toronto's first pedestrian takeover looked like. We've already traced the history of the Yonge St. Mall, but these photos bring something new to the table. Can you believe how packed the streets are. Alas, this is a far cry from the diminished version of the event that's takes place today, limited as it is between the hours of 8am to 12pm before most businesses are open.

At its peak in 1972 and 1973, the Yonge St. Pedestrian Mall spanned 11 weeks. And the people took note. Far from a criticism of the hard work that Open Streets TO organizers have done to push through a pedestrian-focused event like this in a political climate that's unfriendly at best, I'd point to these photos as an example of just how popular a wider application of an open streets initiative can be.

There were problems with the first iteration of the Yonge St. Pedestrian Mall, but the consensus was that it was mostly successful. That's food for thought as our main streets are open once again, for however long it lasts.

Open Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryOpen Streets Toronto HistoryPhotos from the Toronto Archives and the Vintage Toronto Facebook page

by Derek Flack via blogTO