Improv upstarts Last year's Toronto International Improv Festival included a bunch of writers from a tiny show called Saturday Night Live; people still talk about the sold-out show as the best improv they've ever seen. It's going to be tough to top that, but artistic director Kevin Patrick Robbins is determined to try. Among the 76 acts already confirmed are New York's hilarious puppet duo the Josh and Tamra Show , Minneapolis's outrageous Jill Bernard and Toronto's own Slap Happy , Pete and Pat Show and Shortweird Radio . The fest happens August 21 to 27, and confirmed venues include the Second City, the Diesel Playhouse Cabaret Theatre and Bad Dog Theatre, where a 52-hour improv marathon will take place. Yikes - get out the Febreze! www.torontoimprovfest.com/2006.
Who knew mother love could be so tragic? Canopy Theatre , in its sixth season of presenting outdoor theatre downtown, returns to the classics with the greatest of all Greek dramas, Sophocles ' Oedipus Rex . Unlike other open-air troupes, the company's been eschewing the Bard for several years. Returning director Andrea Wasserman helms the production, which features Paul Kit as the Theban King, Lada Darewych as his increasingly distraught queen and Joel Grothe as Creon. Previews July 18, opens July 19 and runs to August 5 at the U of T's Philosopher's Walk, south of Bloor, next to the Edward Johnson Building. 416-978-8849.
The festival formerly known as fFIDA has dropped the word "fringe" from its title and is now called the Toronto International Dance Festival . The lineup hasn't been announced yet, but it takes place August 8 to 19 at the Distillery District (55 Mill). The fest's related workshops include classes and performances by Four Chambers Dance Project , Menaka Thakkar , Larchaud Dance Project and a summer dance intensive with David Earle . www.ffida.org.
'Peg of my heart
We might not want to live there, but Winnipeg's suddenly a cultural hotspot. The folks at Harbourfront have cleverly invited many of the city's top artists to town for Great-West Life: From The Peg . Along with music, film and visual artists, there's a good dance contingent that includes The Royal Winnipeg Ballet performing its award-winning modern piece, Belong , while the Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers perform Sharon Moore's interactive In A Different Light in and around Ann Tindal Park. Go West from July 28 to 30. 416-973-4000.
Fetchez la vache
Flying cows, killer rabbits, drumming coconut shells, opening titles in faux Swedish - it must be Monty Python's Spamalot , the award-winning musical version of the troupe's cult classic, Monty Python And The Holy Grail . With a book by Eric Idle , music and lyrics by Idle and John Du Prez and direction by Mike Nichols , the touring version features Michael Siberry as King Arthur, Rick Holmes as Lancelot and Bradley Dean as Galahad. Don't be surprised if they fart in your general direction. Opens July 12 and runs to September 10 at the Canon Theatre (244 Victoria). 416-872-1212.
If you see a bunch of people with red noses hanging around the Distillery District in July, it's not because they've had too much booze - or sun. They're likely part of the first annual Toronto Festival Of Clowns , a roundup of more than a dozen clowns and bouffons. The entertaining international lineup includes Toronto's Christel Bartelse , David Craig (reviving his nasty alter ego, Napalm) and Rapier Wit . The clowning takes place July 14 and 15. www.torontoclown.com.