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This week in Toronto: Luminato kicks off with RIOT, Nassim and more

Watch this if: You enjoy your dramedy dark with a touch of revenge.

Chances are you’ll like Plum Kettle (Joy Nash), the heroine of this new original series from AMC, even if she doesn’t like herself. Plum is a plus-size woman set on subtracting from her weight, but others help Plum see that her worth is not measured by dress size. Meanwhile, men accused of sexual assault and abuse are being kidnapped and murdered. Based on the bestselling 2015 novel by Sarai Walker, Dietland is directed and executive-produced by Marti Noxon (UnREAL) and also stars Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Robin Weigert (Deadwood) and Tamara Tunie (Law & Order: SVU). The two-episode premiere will be followed by the debut of the after-show Unapologetic With Aisha Tyler, focusing on female-centric issues. (AMC at 9 p.m.)

—Debra Yeo


RIOT at Luminato

Watch this if: You want to go wherever Panti Bliss leads.

With its combination of comedy, dance, drag, circus and criticism, this production from THISISPOPBABY, a.k.a. “Ireland’s greatest artistic hooligans,” seems certain to be the wild ride that the promotional material promises. It gets a one-day head start on the official opening of Toronto’s annual international arts festival. Other offerings in the fest’s first week include Swan Lake/Loch na hEala, an adaptation of the classic ballet, also from Ireland (June 6 to 10); Nassim (see below); and a performance by TiKA, a Toronto R&B artist, TV personality and activist described as “a mix between Aretha and Solange” (June 7). See luminatofestival.com for a full list of events, dates and venues. (Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, 7 p.m., festival continues to June 24)

—Debra Yeo

Bud Empire

Watch this if: You want an inside look at the life of a pot-repreneur.

Bob Kay is a small business owner with a wife and four kids, and a practising member of the Baha’i faith. But his business, a medical marijuana dispensary in Kelowna, B.C., puts him smack in the middle of a grey area as Canada prepares to legalize recreational pot. Director Trish Dolman follows Kay as he balances his sense of responsibility to his customers and staff against the need to stay on the right side of the law and to maintain his business as big corporate players look to cash in on the green rush. (History at 10 p.m.)



David Chariandy on I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You

Go to this if: You want to be one of the first to hear about this buzzed about book.

David Chariandy won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for his novel Brother last year. This book’s a letter to his 13-year-old daughter about his own experience coming of age as a visible minority in Canada. Interviewing him is Jael Richardson, the founder of the Festival of Literary Diversity. This conversation promises to bring out questions of race and identity — with Richardson a top-notch interviewer and Chariandy full of insight and heart. (Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 6:30 pm,)

—Deborah Dundas

Mirror Staging the Seeing Place/Modern Woman in Search of Soul

Watch this if: You want a woman-led evening in the season of #MeToo.

Closing the contemporary dance season from Citadel + Compagnie is a double bill from Montreal-based choreographer Sasha Ivanochko. Modern Woman in Search of Soul and Mirror Staging the Seeing Place are both solo pieces performed by women (Alana Elmer and Kristy Kennedy, respectively) which dissect how women are reflected and built by the world around them. The first uses stereotypes and live feedback from digital and live audiences; the latter a dance studio mirror and live accompaniment to emphasize its themes of doubling and echoes. (The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance, 304 Parliament St., 8 p.m., until June 9)

—Carly Maga


The Phantom of the Opera

Watch this if: Summer is the time for masquerades and giant chandeliers.

Toronto has had success with mega-producer Cameron Mackintosh before; his Toronto tryout of Les Misérables was a hit before moving on to Broadway. He’s back with a revamped update of another uber-icon of musical theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. Don’t worry: it’s the same melodrama we all know and love, but with more frills – way more. This production features a cast and orchestra of 52. (Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 1:30 or 8 p.m., on until June 30)



Watch this if: You love surprises.

In 2011, Toronto was blown away by Nassim Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit Red Rabbit, produced by Volcano Theatre at the SummerWorks Performance Festival, in which the script is read by a different actor every night, sight unseen. This electric format is replicated in Nassim, which opens at Luminato this week, except Tehran-born Soleimanpour joins the intrepid performers, including Amanda Parris, Michael Redhill and Gavin Crawford. (Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley St., 7 p.m., on until June 16)


Ursula Rucker

Watch this for: Earthy, lyrical wordplay that doesn’t come around too often.

Graduating from the slam scene to go fully amplified a couple of decades ago when she hitched her verses to the tunes of King Britt and the Roots, Rucker’s never looked back, whether working on her own or in collaboration with producers and artists in a variety of media. Any night at this weekend’s Lulaworld fest will do depending on your tastes in Latin and roots, but don’t sleep on her brand of frank hip-hop poetry, a definite left turn not only from that crowd but from fellow Philadelphians Hall & Oates, at the ACC earlier in the week. One treads in mellow pop nostalgia; the other offers a more incendiary, intimate slice of Philly soul. (Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St. W., doors 7 p.m.)

—Chris Young

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura at the Toronto Japanese Film Festival

Watch this if: You live for big-screen manga and other Japanese movie specialities.

A lavish fantasy flick based on a hit manga about a mystery writer who tangles with weird spirits and beasts to rescue his beloved wife, Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura is one of many new movies playing Toronto for the first time this month thanks to the Toronto Japanese Film Festival. Celebrating its fifth year, the fest includes such further highlights as Tokyo Vampire Hotel, the latest freaky delight by cult auteur Sion Sono; and Mixed Doubles, a ping-pong-themed rom-com that scored big time with Japanese audiences last year. (Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, 6 Garamond Court, 7:30 p.m.)

Jason Anderson


Abducted in Plain Sight at the Toronto True Crime Film Festival

Watch this if: You want some cases you can sink your teeth into.

The brainchild of a team of movie lovers who may very well own their own police scanners, the Toronto True Crime Film Festival presents a seamy selection of sensationalistic stories at the Royal. The first TTCFF launches with Abducted in Plain Sight, a new American doc about the very bizarre case of Jan Broberg, a 12-year-old who was kidnapped twice in small-town Idaho in 1974. Along with equally gripping features and docs, the fest also presents symposiums on such topics as true-crime fandom among women, so there’s no better place for mystery fans to get a fix. (Royal Cinema, 608 College St., 7 p.m., festival continues June 9)



Jeremy Dutcher

Watch this because: “We’re not losing words, we’re losing entire ways of seeing the world.”

Consider this Dutcher’s reclamation project and, given this latest landing spot, an exclamation. The 27-year-old tenor’s April release Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa is an astonishing debut of redressing and revival that stitches century-old field recordings of songs in the Wolastoqey language he grew up with — the music for years banned via the Indian Act, the language in decline now to a few hundred in New Brunswick — with his classical piano background and compositional sense. Dutcher has charmed a few small club rooms around town on his own but goes grandest here yet in presentation, with cello, drums and backing voices added in a heritage-building setting to make for a holy communion of sorts. (Great Hall, 1087 Queen St. W., doors 8 p.m.)