YANNA McINTOSH, actor
Always an impressive performer, technically and emotionally, McIntosh comes off a stellar season at the Stratford Festival playing the fairy-tale evil queen in Cymbeline and the anguished title character in Elektra. She returns to the Toronto stage in the Company Theatre's Speaking In Tongues, a play about the dark side of human nature by Australian writer Andrew Bovell, in which a woman's disappearance throws four marriages into disarray. Jonathan Goad, Richard Clarkin and Helene Joy join McIntosh under Philip Riccio's direction. In association with Canadian Stage, October 29 to November 24 at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley). 416-368-3110.
MARIA BAMFORD, comic
Although frequently associated with the alternative Comedians Of Comedy tour and movie, the giddily neurotic Bamford hasn't broken out like Patton Oswalt (who's playing JFL42 this weekend) and Zach Galifianakis. Which is a shame, because she's just as funny - if not funnier. She's as good a performer as she is a writer, impersonating family members or high school nemeses with equal ease, and getting laughs because her material's based in truth. Her work plays best in small clubs, so don't miss her three-night run November 1 to 3 at the Comedy Bar (945 Bloor West) as part of its Dark Comedy Festival. comedybar.ca.
JONATHON YOUNG, actor
Young, who helped give memorable life to the Electric Company's out-of-the-box productions of No Exit and Studies In Motion, returns with the troupe and director Kim Collier as part of the Canadian Stage season in Tear The Curtain!, in which a jaded theatre critic surveys the playhouse and cinema Mob wars of 1930s Vancouver. Ever think of Vancouver as a film noir town? You'll discover it is, in gritty action that moves back and forth between stage and screen. In association with the Arts Club Theatre, October 7 to 20 at the Bluma Appel (27 Front East). 416-368-3110.
SUSIE BURPEE and LINNEA SWAN, choreographers/dancers
In the past few seasons, Burpee and Swan have emerged as two of the most dramatic dance artists around. Character is integral to Burpee's dances like The Spinster's Almanac and A Mass Becomes You, while Swan has made some fine crossovers into plays like Appetite. So their collaboration, Road Trip, exploring feminine rivalry using techniques of modern dance and clown, should provide one helluva ride. October 18 to 20 at the Enwave (231 Queens Quay West). 416-973-4000.
CARLA HUHTANEN, singer
The best operas feature not vocalists but singing actors, and Huhtanen has both the voice and the dramatic chops to win over audiences. Known for her work in contemporary works (Svadba, Orlando/Lunaire) and classical ones (Don Giovanni, Armide), she was on our top 10 artists list a few years ago. She returns to Opera Atelier for its first German romantic opera, Der Freischütz, a Faustian tale about a hunter who makes a deal with the Devil for magic bullets. Count on her to hit the production's bull's eye. October 27 to November 3 at the Elgin (189 Yonge). 1-855-622-2787.
ADAM BRAZIER, director
Although still best known as an electric performer in shows like The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot and musicals Mamma Mia! and The Rocky Horror Show (for which he won a Dora), Brazier made a brilliant directorial debut with Birdland Theatre's production of Assassins. Now he's at the helm of one of the fall's major theatre events, Bloodless: The Trial Of Burke And Hare, the inaugural production by Theatre 20, Canada's only artist-led musical theatre company. Joseph Aragon's show chronicles the lives of Irish serial killers in 19th century Scotland, and features a talented cast that includes Evan Buliung, Eddie Glen, Trish Lindström and David Keeley. Bloodless? Hard to imagine, with Brazier involved. October 9 to 28 at the Panasonic (651 Yonge). 416-872-1212.
TARA BEAGAN, actor
When we first saw the talented Beagan, she was performing in her Dora-winning script Thy Neighbour's Wife. She's since written other plays, worked as a director and currently heads Native Earth Performing Arts. The Métis artist returns to acting in Keith Barker's The Hours That Remain, in which a woman desperately searches for her missing sister. Her cohorts include director David Storch and performers Eli Ham and Keira Loughran. Presented by New Harlem Productions, October 19 to November 3, at the Aki Studio Theatre (585 Dundas East).
BEN CHAISSON and BETH KATES, designers
Chaisson and Kates are known for such exciting theatre productions as Bigger Than Jesus, MacHomer, Yichud and Dark Star Requiem. This season they're enlarging The ToyBox, which began life as an exploratory SummerWorks project and is now subtitled What's Fun(ny) About Toronto? The free interactive event allows young and old to use their imaginations and play with toys, green screens and projections that reflect the entertaining side of our city. The Playground Studios production, co-presented with Theatre Passe Muraille, is currently at City Hall (100 Queen West) through September 22 and returns to Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson) December 12 to 15. 416-504-7529.
JUSTIN BOTT, actor
Angelwalk Theatre has carved out a niche presenting off-Broadway musicals, and one of the company's freshest productions was 2010's cleverly self-referential [title of show], which brought the versatile Bott to our attention. He's appeared in a number of things since, like Angelwalk's Songs For A New World and Hart House's Great American Trailer Park Musical. But this season you've got two chances to see him: in the Canadian premiere of Adam Gwon's Ordinary Days, about a quartet of 20-somethings looking for love and happiness (November 29 to December 9), and in a one-night showcase with Kelly Holiff called From Justin To Kelly (October 3). Both at the Studio Theatre at Toronto Centre for the Arts (5040 Yonge). angelwalk.ca.
GEORGE HAMILTON, actor
A walking advertisement for sunscreen, the legendary entertainer of film and TV comes to town in La Cage Aux Folles, the touring production of the Broadway revival of Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein's musical about a same-sex couple whose son is marrying into an ultra-conservative family. The former matinee idol doesn't have a lot of recent stage experience, but remember that he took part in Dancing With The Stars a few seasons ago, which should also come in handy when he's delivering those high kicks. October 10 to November 18 at the Royal Alexandra (260 King West). 416-872-1212.