A Hedda its time
It's hard to imagine a better piece of casting this season than the vibrant Yanna McIntosh in the title role of Henrik Ibsen 's Hedda Gabler , playing a frustrated woman whose options become fewer and fewer in a stultifying society. Director Ross Manson surrounds her with an equally stellar cast - Tanja Jacobs , Tom McCamus , Alon Nashman , Nigel Shawn Williams and Cynthia Ashperger - in this Volcano production, which uses an adaptation by Judith Thompson . May 22 to June 12 at Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). 416-975-8555.
The biennial World Stage fest returns with a new focus - solo shows - and a full concentration of theatre, dance, readings and visual arts at Harbourfront Centre. Don't think one-person shows are challenging? Then check out the nearly two dozen international and Canadian shows, including works about Orson Welles and Franz Kafka and a play performed in a car. Among the performers are celebrated performance artist Laurie Anderson and talented Canucks Karen Hines , Alon Nashman , Charles Ross , Marie Brassard and Denise Clarke . Can't beat the $25 ticket price for all shows. April 13 to May 1 at various Harbourfront venues. 416-973-4000.
Queer comedy bargains
This year's We're Funny That Way queer comedy fest opens in retro style with a gala modelled after the legendary variety show Laugh-In, complete with swinging doors. On the lineup so far are local queers Gavin Crawford , Maggie Cassella , Ed Sahely and Jonathan Wilson and cool hets Colin Mochrie , Deb McGrath , Women Fully Clothed , Kate Rigg , Shoshana Sperling and others. Hmmm... who's gonna be Jo Anne Worley? Apart from this $250 gala, the rest of the fest - which includes many of the above funny folks - is pay what you can. May 11 to 14 at Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). 416-975-8555, 416-907-9099.
Ballet Hat trick
Last season, the National Ballet of Canada 's James Kudelka finally showed he had a sense of humour in his revelatory Cinderella (back for two performances April 23-24). So we're primed for his An Italian Straw Hat , a new full-length ballet based on a 19th-century farce. Michael Torke 's original score should be good - his work stood out in his last Kudelka collaboration, the otherwise flawed The Contract. Let's hope the narrative is easier to follow than that ballet's, though. At least librettist Timothy Luginbuhl has solid source material to work with. Runs May 1 and 11 to 15, at the Hummingbird (1 Front East). 416-345-9595.
Ernest and Ernestine are ideal sweethearts - until they get married and start living together. Then neat freak Ernest and careless Ernestine are at odds, despite the love that brought them together. Theatre Columbus remounts the classic dark comedy The Anger In Ernest & Ernestine by Leah Cherniak , Robert Morgan and Martha Ross , with Cherniak again directing and Rick Roberts and Jenny Young stepping in as the couple who don't live happily ever after. Catch it from May 7 to June 5 at Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson). 416-504-7529.
It hasn't been the most thrilling dance season, but a new work by our own Christopher House (April 12 to 16) and the local debut by Italian choreographer Emio Greco could change all that down at Harbourfront. Greco and his partner, Dutch theatre director Pieter C. Scholten , present Rimasto Orfano , an abstract look at the struggle between mind and body, harmony and chaos. The soothing grey silks from the design sure look cool. May 3 to 7 at the Premiere Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West). 416-973-4000.