WHAT Writer/performer in unnamed Second City revue (being developed from February 7, official opening March 14, secondcity.com)
WHY You may have seen Nuñez on the big screen (in Spotlight, as Stanley Tucci's receptionist) and the small screen (the hit CBC series Baroness Von Sketch Show). But comedy lovers know her from shows like True Blue, Throne Of Games (both produced by Bad Dog Theatre) and the remount of Carmen Aguirre's solo show Chile Con Carne. Now she brings her husky voice, great improv instincts and the most seen-it-all pair of heavy-lidded eyes since Bette Davis to the Second City Mainstage as one of three new cast members along with Devon Hyland and her fellow Bad Dog performer Colin Munch. Can't wait to see what she brings to the mix.
WHAT Director of Theatre Rusticle's vision of Our Town (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, March 26 to April 2)
WHY Rusticle's blend of physical theatre elicits emotions through movement as well as text. The company's never tackled anything like Thornton Wilder's classic play about small-town American life - actually a look at the simplicity of all human life. Expect a striking, original take on the material with a cast that includes Hume Baugh, Augusto Bitter, Viv Moore, Lucy Rupert and Geoffrey Whynot.
WHAT Choreographer of Self And Soul, part of the National Ballet's mixed program (Four Seasons Centre, March 29 to April 2, national.ballet.ca)
WHY The National's choreographic associate is carving out an eclectic career creating pieces for New York City Ballet and collaborating with organizations like the AGO (in the recent The Dreamers Ever Leave You, to coincide with the Lawren Harris exhibit) and the site-specific Outside the March (TomorrowLove). This season his new short work, first seen at the Erik Bruhn Prize gala last year, joins the National's mixed program along with more famous names like Wayne McGregor, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Illustrious company. Get used to it.
WHAT Performer in Götterdämmerung (Four Seasons Centre, February 2 to 25, coc.ca)
WHY Dramatic soprano Goerke returns to Toronto to tackle Brünnhilde, one of opera's most challenging roles, in the final segment of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, an epic music drama. She's already played the valkyrie in the Canadian Opera Company's exciting stagings of Die Walküre and Siegfried, bringing to the role a thrilling, resonant voice, commanding stage presence and dramatic warmth. Can't wait for this final instalment, which is set in a modern corporate world complete with unexpected takeovers.
WHAT Ensemble member of Groundling Theatre, part of the company's remount of The Winter's Tale and a new staging of Measure For Measure (Winter Garden Theatre, January 17 to February 19, groundlingtheatre.com)
WHY Parmar's proven herself an ideal ingenue, playing not only Perdita, the passionate heroine with a touch of worldliness in Tale, but also the juvenile lover in a Bollywood production of Much Ado About Nothing. She's sure to be winning in Measure as Julieta, another young Shakespearean heroine whose amorous troubles are resolved by the end of the play.
WHAT Performer in Passing Strange, a musical by Stew, Heidi Rodewald and Annie Dorsen (presented by Acting Up Stage and Obsidian Theatre at the Opera House, January 24 to February 5, passingstrangeto.com).
WHY Fernandes is equally at home in musicals and dramas, as he's proven in Soulpepper productions of Rose, Alligator Pie, Incident At Vichy and Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts I, II, III). In the last he played a loyal mutt with charm and smarts. His latest show, a Tony winner, follows a Black teen in the 1970s who looks for home in a number of cities, his journey accompanied by punk, R&B and soul tunes.
WHAT Performing in her solo show The Big "What Now?" (Fleck Dance Theatre, January 25 to February 5, 416-973-4000)
WHY Shamas is unique among Canadian performers in having chronicled onstage almost every major milestone in her adult life. We've seen her fall in love, get married, get divorced, move to a farm, get older - all with her signature drop-dead honesty and frank humour. In this new show, which she's already workshopped to acclaim, she's wondering what life has in store for her - and, by extension, for the thousands of her devoted fans who've followed her theatrical journey from that first show.
WHAT Co-choreographer of Holy Cow(s)!, part of NextSteps (Harbourfront Centre Theatre, March 23 to 25).
WHY A few years ago, Krishnan heated up the local dance scene with a sizzling, eyebrow-raising piece about queerness called SKIN. Now, just in time to melt winter's last snow comes a white-hot mixed program sending up ideas about gender, sexuality and cultural taboos. The night of solos and ensemble pieces includes works by David Brick, Seán Curran and Jay Hirabayashi. But look for Krishnan's signature style - which mixes contemporary with Indian Bharatanatyam - to get you to say that title out loud.
WHAT Playwright of The Last Wife and performer in The Audience. (Wife at the Young Centre, January 20 to February 11, soulpepper.ca; Audience at Royal Alexandra Theatre, January 17 to February 26, mirvish.com)
WHY Hennig's excellent The Last Wife, commissioned by and premiered at the Stratford Festival, is the first of a trilogy about royal women in 16th-century England. Soulpepper gives the show its Toronto premiere, featuring the original cast, again directed by Alan Dilworth; Maev Beaty plays Katherine Parr, the sixth spouse of Henry VIII (Joseph Ziegler). Personal and political fireworks are sure to light the stage. Hennig herself steps onstage in Peter Morgan's The Audience as Margaret Thatcher, one of a series of British prime ministers who have private meetings with Elizabeth II. Hennig will have a worthy scene partner: Fiona Reid plays the queen.
WHAT Stand-up show (Sony Centre, February 10, ticketmaster.ca)
WHY Before he became one of the world's biggest box office draws in the Rush Hour movies, Tucker was a respected stand-up. Now he returns to his roots in this show, which should be a revelation to people who only know him as a high-energy, helium-voiced scene stealer. After a year in which race was a hot-button issue, let's see if - and how firmly - Tucker pushes the issue comedically.