Nine things to do in Toronto this week


  • Toxic Beauty

Watch this if: You’ve ever used skin cream, shampoo, makeup or talcum powder.

This documentary tackles the issue of chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products and, in particular, suggested links between the use of baby powder and ovarian cancer. It’s a good bet you’ll be tempted to empty your drawers and makeup bags after watching it. It makes its broadcast premiere after a Hot Docs debut in 2019. (CBC documentary Channel at 9 p.m., also airs Jan. 7 and 12)

— Debra Yeo


  • How to Bee

Watch this if: learning beekeeping is high on your 2020 to-do list.

The city’s many documentary devotees can start another busy year of viewing with this Canadian standout. “How to Bee” charts filmmaker Naomi Mark’s efforts to inherit her father’s love and knowledge of beekeeping, a tricky task made more daunting by his declining health due to a degenerative lung disease. A doc that blends an intimately scaled family story with vivid Yukon scenery and some potentially valuable tips for prospective honey-makers in the audience, Mark’s film is attracting some buzz (sorry) for its one-night engagement across Canada. (Cineplex Cinemas Yonge Dundas, 10 Dundas St. E., 7 p.m.)

— Jason Anderson


  • Julius Caesar

Watch this if: The news isn’t filled with enough political scandal.

A New York production of “Julius Caesar” made headlines in 2017 by giving Caesar a bright red tie and Calpurnia a Slovenian accent, but you don’t have to go to such obvious lengths to draw parallels between the famous historical murder and political upheaval and what’s coming in 2020. But with this production, premiering Tuesday, at Crow’s Theatre (with the ever-reliable Groundling Theatre Company) — with Chris Abraham directing and starring Dion Johnstone, Graham Abbey, Jim Mezon, Moya O’Connell, and even more all-star acting names — it’s also almost guaranteed to be an enrapturing production on its own merits. (Streetcar Crowsnest, 345 Carlaw Ave., 7:30 p.m., through Feb. 2)

—Carly Maga


  • Next Stage Theatre Festival

Watch this if: You want to get a wintertime taste of summer festival.

Compared to the Toronto Fringe, its July sister performing-arts juggernaut, the Next Stage Theatre Festival is much more manageable but still offers the variety of performance genres that typifies the Fringe spirit. This year’s lineup includes the beloved drag character Pearle Harbour, sketch comedy from the Tita Collective and TallBoyz, an Iranian playwright’s autobiographical account of the Iran-Iraq War in “Winter of 88,” a solo performance by Bilal Baig about a trans woman escaping from Bangladesh “Kitne Saare Laloo Yahan Pey Hain,” a surreal drama about consumerism and the environment “Consumption Patterns,” a personal solo work by disabled artist Ophira Calof in “Literally Titanium,” a remount of the sold-out Fringe hit “Morro and Jasp: Save the Date,” and more. (Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St., through Jan. 19)


  • Phantom of the Opera

Watch this if: You want an Andrew Lloyd Webber double bill.

So you’ve seen the new “Cats” movie, and you’ve seen the “Cats” stage show that ends its Toronto run on Jan. 5. How will you fill the Lloyd Webber void, you ask? Lucky for you, Mirvish Productions is bringing the show that topped ALW’s singing cat-show success: “Phantom of the Opera.” This tour of a revamped staging of the classic musical by director Laurence Connor is the same that rolled through town in the summer of 2018, featuring a cast and orchestra of 52, the appropriate ensemble size for a Lloyd Webber spectacle. (Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 8 p.m., through Feb. 2)


  • Fortunate Son

Watch this if: You’re game to travel back to the 1960s via a well-made Canadian drama.

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This drama from Andrew Wreggitt (“North of 60,” “Pure”) sets up a compelling cat-and-mouse game between an American fugitive turned Canadian anti-war activist who smuggles a young Vietnam draft dodger over the border and the CIA agent who’s out to get her. It boasts a top-notch cast, including Kari Matchett (“Covert Affairs”), Darren Mann (“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”) and Stephen Moyer (“True Blood”). (CBC at 9 p.m., also available on CBC Gem)

— DY


  • Luke Lalonde

Watch this if: An indie-rock veteran in full troubadour’s protest voice.

Fresh off a 2019 that had his Born Ruffians band ticking along nicely and touring into late fall while promising new music in 2020, the band’s lead singer kicks off his own new chapter for a new year. And it is all his own, as in November release “The Perpetual Optimist,” his second solo record that’ll come into sharp focus at this sold-out show. The title’s a bit of a deception — Lalonde’s got a few things to say, mostly about rampant consumption, complicity and our poor old Earth, a place where we “squeeze it till you die,” as he puts in on the Dylanesque tune Dusty Lime. (Drake Underground, 1150 Queen St. W., doors 8 p.m.)

—Chris Young

  • Vertigo in 70mm

Watch this if: you dig the dark side of Jimmy Stewart.

TIFF Cinematheque’s 2020 programming begins on a high note (and a high ledge) with a limited run for the most famous collaboration between director Alfred Hitchcock and star Jimmy Stewart, who’s also the subject of a retrospective that starts this week. Voted the very greatest of all motion pictures in the most recent critics’ poll by Sight & Sound magazine, “Vertigo” remains a mesmerizing tale of sexual obsession, one that revealed a less wholesome side to the beloved actor. A four-day run of the 70mm version of the 1958 classic serves as the launch for Call Me Jimmy: The Films of James Stewart, a series that runs until April. (TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 6:30 p.m.)

— JA


  • Miriam Khalil

Watch this if: Catch one of the country’s hottest operatic voices in a signature role.

The Royal Conservatory’s seventh 21C Festival of contemporary music takes no chances with this opening-night program, dedicated to the work of Argentinean-born composer Osvaldo Golijov. Calling on Toronto’s boundary-busting Against the Grain Theatre team to pull one back from their archives, the Lebanese-Canadian soprano Khalil fronts an ensemble of 11 top-drawer instrumentalists to backstop the night with Golijov’s “Ayre,” a gorgeous 45-minute song cycle she made her own in a 2016 AtG production and subsequent live recording that earned a Juno nomination — “It is as if she was born to sing it, or even better, born for each other, she and Ayre,” Golijov has said. (Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W., 8 p.m.)



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