1. SANDRA SHAMAS’ WIT’S END III: LOVE LIFE
Comedy queen Sandra Shamas started making audiences laugh back in the ’80s—her show, My Boyfriend’s Back and There’s Gonna Be Laundry, was a huge hit at the Edmonton Fringe Festival in 1987, and led to no small amount of success on the comedy circuit. These days, after a nine-year absence from the stage, her shows reflect a performer more comfortable in her skin, perhaps the result of some country living (she moved to a farm and started growing carrots after the aforementioned boyfriend-turned-husband filed for divorce). Whatever the subject matter, Shamas is still making everyone laugh. To March 13. $25-$65. Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St., 416-872-5555, ticketmaster.ca.
2. BREAD DAY WITH ANDREA GIBSON (FREE!)
For many DIY foodies, bread is the final frontier. Sure, making a loaf is cheaper than tossing a bag of Dempster’s in your grocery cart, but for some (like, say, us) it can be a little intimidating. Enter the fine folks at The Cookbook Store, who are hosting a day-long ode to bread this weekend. Toronto “bread maven” Andrea Gibson, owner of Fred’s Bread, will be on hand to answer questions, and there will be various loaves of bread available for the tasting. February 26. The Cookbook Store, 850 Yonge St., cook-book.com.
3. TOTSAPALOOZA: FRANKLIN’S BACKYARD BIRTHDAY BLITZ EDITION
Franklin, everyone’s favourite turtle, turns 25 in 2011, and this year’s Totsapalooza celebrates that anniversary. The books’ author, Paulette Bourgeois, and illustrator, Brenda Clark, will be on hand during the celebrations, which will include Franklin-inspired crafts and kid-friendly local bands such as Hooded Fang, the Monkey Bunch and Jazz for Juniors, among others. February 27. Adults $17, kids $13. Revival, 783 College St., 416-779-7333, smallprinttoronto.org.
4. OSCAR PARTY (FREE!)
This party, hosted by Metro’s Reel Guys, Richard Crouse and Mark Breslin, is making us reconsider our usual ritual of at-home cocktails and Twitter snark. Champagne, cinematic trivia and the chance to don something a little more sparkly than our PJs is kind of a winning combination. February 27. The Drake Hotel Lounge, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042, thedrakehotel.ca.
5. BROTHEL #9
In this play, the latest from Dora Award–winning playwright Anusree Roy, Rekha, a young woman from a tiny Indian village, travels to big city Calcutta to take a job making light bulbs, only to discover that her new job isn’t in a factory—it’s in one of the city’s notorious brothels. Previews February 26 to March 2, March 3 to March 27. $15–$40. The Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St., 416-504-9971, factorytheatre.ca.
6. OKAVANGO: AN AFRICAN ORCHESTRA
This musical project features musicians from across the African continent. Look out for Ghanaian percussionist Walter MacLean, Malagasy guitarist Donné Roberts and Sudanese bassist Waleed Abdulhamid, among others. They’ll be premiering a CBC-commissioned suite called “Okavango: A Conversation with the Spirits.” February 25. $25. Glenn Gould Studio, CBC Building, 250 Front St. W., 416-872-4255, glenngouldstudio.com.
7. ANNE SOFIE VON OTTER AND BRAD MEHLDAU: LOVE SONGS
The duo behind this one-night-only concert at Koerner Hall may seem unsuited at first, but the pairing actually makes perfect sense. Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter croons everything from ABBA to Mozart, while American pianist Brad Mehldau has won Grammys for his jazz compositions. But both musicians are known for their versatility, and this partnership allows them to push the boundaries even further. Expect a little Brahms, a little Waits, a little Strauss and even some Lennon/McCartney, not to mention a few pieces from Mehldau’s own repertoire. February 25. $25–$65. Koerner Hall, The Royal Conservatory of Music, 273 Bloor St. W., 416-408-0208, rcmusic.ca.
8. DUM DUM GIRLS
The Dum Dum Girls are Dee Dee, Jules, Bambi and Sandy, and while their names might read like a cast of Archie characters, their music is more ’60s pop meets punk. Combine that sound with the studio wizardry of producer Richard Gottehrer—co-writer of the ’60s bubble gum hit “My Boyfriend’s Back”—on 2010’s I Will Be, and the Dum Dum Girls have a winning combo. Plus, the band’s name is an ode to 1980s alt-rockers the Vaselines and rocker Iggy Pop, which is pretty cool, if you ask us. February 26. El Mocambo, $15. 464 Spadina Ave., myspace.com/dumdumgirls.
(Images: Dum Dum Girls, Man Alive!; Mehldau and von Otter, Richard Dumas/Naïve; Shamas, Cylla von Tiedemann)