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Events

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The Weekender: Sing-Along Messiah, Wildlife and five other events on our to-do list

Ivars Taurins leading the Sing-Along Messiah at Massey Hall (Image: Gary Beechey)

1. SING-ALONG MESSIAH
That only-used-in-the-shower voice deserves to be heard, so why not join your fellow shower-belters in some Baroque music conducted by a man in a fantastically frilly costume? Ivars Taurins, dressed from wigged head to pointy toe as composer G.F. Handel, directs the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir along with an audience of thousands, who can either choose to sit with their voice type or in a mixed area to blend into the din. A little warmup en route to the performance might not hurt, but don’t take it personally if your fellow TTC passengers are less than amused. December 23. $45. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255, masseyhall.com

2. KENSINGTON MARKET WINTER SOLSTICE (FREE!)
To celebrate the longest night of the calendar year (and potentially the last night on earth, according to adherents of the Mayan calendar–based apocalypse), Red Pepper Spectacle Arts transforms Kensington Market with a festival of lights. Handmade lanterns will stream through the streets of the Market in a parade that all revellers are invited to join (although we’re not sure that cellphones held aloft amount to the same thing). The path will wind from Oxford and Augusta through the Market to Alexandra Park for the finale. December 21. Kensington Market, Oxford St. & Augusta Ave., 416-598-3729, redpepperspectacle.wordpress.com

3. AFRIKA BAMBAATAA
As if being an undisputed pioneer and ambassador of hip hop music and culture were not enough, Afrika Bambaataa is currently a visiting lecturer at Cornell University, which is home to the largest archive of hip hop culture artifacts, recordings and photographs in the U.S. Bam will be performing alongside the Soul Motivators, a nine-piece collection of musicians from Toronto’s retro soul and funk scene. December 21. $25. Revival Bar, 783 College St., 416-535-7888, revivalbar.com

4. WILDLIFE
This Toronto-based indie band looks just as natural running carefree through a forest as it does cheerfully jamming onstage. Their 2010 debut, Strike Hard, Young Diamond, epitomized their self-described “Jurassic Park meets Star Wars” sound—every song is precisely tuned to inculcate the urge to get up and dance with abandon. Friday’s show promises to be the perfect antidote to the bummer that is the shortest day of the year. December 21. $15. The Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042, thedrakehotel.ca

5. THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
At a running time of 484 minutes, this is one cinematic event that’s going to take a little pre-planning. A filmed version of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s legendary 1980 production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, this picture catapulted Roger Rees, who played Nickleby, into stardom for his Tony Award–winning performance. There are three intermissions running 15 minutes, 30 minutes and one hour, respectively, so you’ll want to make dinner reservations for the last one, and probably skip the appetizers. This is for the committed Dickens fan who’s sick of all the attention that other work gets at this time of year. December 23. $18.75. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-599-8433, tiff.net

6. SAMA-E RAST
For this world premiere, Toronto’s Sashar Zarif Dance Theatre brings Mugham, the ancient musical tradition of Azerbaijan, to the stage. Acclaimed singer Alim Qasimov and his ensemble have been collaborating with Zarif, a choreographer, for eight years, and on the solstice they’ll be telling the story of man’s spiritual ascent through poetry, dance and music. Also premiering is Azerbaijani filmmaker Elchin Musaoglu’s documentary Three Apples Fell from the Sky, about Zarif’s personal and professional journey. December 21. $41.25–$108.50. Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St., 1-855-985-5000, ticketmaster.ca

7. THE WIZARD OF OZ
Following the search for a Maria Von Trapp in How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of The Wizard of Oz joined the ranks of reality television franchises by finding an actress to play the coveted role of Dorothy through CBC’s Over the Rainbow (though thankfully there weren’t any tear-drenched rose ceremonies or snuffing out of torches). Deemed suitably qualified to step into the iconic ruby slippers is Danielle Wade of LaSalle, Ont., who will be clicking her heels along the yellow brick road en route to a big green projection of Canadian television star Cedric Smith. Joined by a trio of misfits and one yippy terrier, Wade will escort the audience on that well-worn journey from the Kansas dustbowl to the Emerald City as Dorothy searches for a way home. December 20-March 31. $59-$130. Ed Mirvish Theatre, 244 Victoria St., 416-872-1212, mirvish.com

 

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