Love and Information
Watch this if: You’ve got news-feed fatigue.
Caryl Churchill’s 2012 play was born out of the information overload that has defined the last decade: over 50 scenes, with over 100 characters, played by a handful of actors, exploring how our desire for information satisfies and also depletes our capacity for emotional connection. With the dark side of Facebook and the real value of privacy in the 2018 headlines, Canadian Stage’s production of Love and Information, co-directed by Tanja Jacobs and Alistair Newton, is so timely it’s almost like they were eavesdropping on our conversations. (Berkeley Street Downstairs Theatre, 26 Berkeley St., 8 p.m., on until April 29)
Watch this if: You want a little Broadway without crossing the border.
Before the acclaimed revival of Les Misérables hit New York City, the Toronto tryout in 2013 reintroduced us to Ramin Karimloo, who was promptly nominated for a Tony for his performance as Jean Valjean. Now he’s returning to a Toronto stage alongside the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and another Tony Award nominee, Stephanie J. Block (Falsettos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the Wicked national tour), for a reprise of “Bring Him Home.” The two Broadway stars will also sing selections from shows like Company, Ragtime, Gypsy and another musical with a Toronto history, Kiss of the Spider Woman. (Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 8 p.m., repeats April 11 and 12)
Watch this if: You’ve missed the last couple best-of-theatre lists.
Quote Unquote Collective’s Mouthpiece, created and performed by Norah Sadava and Amy Nostbakken, has been one of the most internationally successful theatre productions to come out of Toronto in the last few years — they even got a Los Angeles run courtesy of Jodie Foster. It’s about to start another tour to the U.K., but first this two-hander about a woman processing the death of her mother returns to Toronto for a short engagement to appease anyone here who has missed this hit. (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St., 8 p.m., on until April 22)
John Cooper Clarke
Watch this for: A troubadour of the spoken word and funny as hell to boot.
At 69, Clarke is busier than ever as a kind of grand old punk of letters, his versifying given new legs by a diverse band of followers, including Arctic Monkeys, The Sopranos and England’s high school curricula, with an honorary degree from his hometown University of Salford to add gravitas. Now comes the doctor on tour and, presumably, some of the poems slated for a new fall collection, his first book in 35 years, will be included among the greatest hits: pointed, scathing words delivered in a dry Manc drawl that might require subtitles at times. But anyone down for some wordplay is in for a treat. (Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., doors 8 p.m.)
Shakedown at Images Festival
Watch this if: You want to experience a wild time capsule of LGBTQ culture.
A vivid portrait of a little-seen queer subculture, Shakedown includes footage that director Leilah Weinraub shot in the early 2000s of a weekly party that was at the heart of an underground strip-club scene for African-American lesbians in Los Angeles. A documentary about a reliably wild rager that also served as an invaluable cultural hub for a marginalized and under-represented community, Weinraub’s film has been a fast favourite on the festival circuit since it debuted in Berlin earlier this year. The director presents the Canadian premiere at the opening night of Images, Toronto’s annual festival of adventurous film, video, installation art and other media works. (Royal Cinema, 608 College, 7 p.m., festival continues to April 20)
Madame Hyde at MDFF Selects
Watch this if: You want to see France’s finest actress in fine fettle.
Isabelle Huppert’s Oscar nomination last year for her role in Elle brought a much-deserved transatlantic boost in profile for an actress who’d long ago clinched national-treasure status in France. She’s back onscreen in Madame Hyde, an unconventional new spin on Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that makes its Toronto premiere this week courtesy of MDFF, the Toronto International Film Festival and Cinema Scope magazine. Huppert shows off her comedic skills in the role of a schoolteacher who develops a new side to her personality after she’s struck by lightning. Cinephiles can hear more about how she does what she does during a post-screening Q&A with director Serge Bozon. (TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 9 p.m.)
Watch this for: That bracing feeling when you recall what you were doing at age 13.
English teen Alma Deutscher is already something of a global celebrity for her precocious musical talents — “it’s natural for her, it’s play, and I think it was play for certain brilliant young composers, like Mozart, like Korngold,” says maestro Simon Rattle, who’s called her a “force of nature.” Those kind of heady comparisons have followed her around most of her young life given her virtuosity on the piano and violin, and her work as a composer, including an opera based on the Cinderella story that in its two mountings in Vienna has sold out houses and earned critical acclaim. This recital, her Canadian debut, will include some of that and gets additional oomph from the day’s announcement of this year’s Glenn Gould Prize laureate. (Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W., 8 p.m.)
Elvis Presley: The Searcher
Watch this if: You want to be reminded of a time when music shook, rattled and rolled.
This three-hour, two-film documentary has been touted for the never before seen footage and photos of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, who died in 1977 at the age of 42. And viewers will certainly learn plenty about Presley, from his childhood through to his final recording sessions in 1976. But there’s plenty here to entice fans of music in general, including footage of the legendary Black blues musicians who influenced him, the creative ferment that was Beale St. in Memphis in the 1950s, and commentary from late greats like Sun Records’ Sam Phillips and Tom Petty. (HBO at 8 p.m., also streams on CraveTV beginning April 20)
Fear the Walking Dead
Watch this if: You’d like to see how a beloved character makes out in a new environment.
The Season 4 premiere of this Walking Dead spinoff features the much anticipated debut of Morgan (Lennie James), a new character to Fear who was a favourite on the parent show. It’s likely Morgan will have a much bigger role to play in this new postapocalyptic setting, but his introduction to Fear’s main band of survivors is a rough one judging from the season opener. We also get a look at another welcome addition to Fear’s cast, the prolific Garret Dillahunt (Deadwood, 12 Years a Slave). Meanwhile, The Walking Dead finishes its eighth season an hour before Fear debuts with the end (at least, we fervently hope) to the war between Rick Grimes’ gang and the Saviors. (AMC at 9 and 10 p.m.)