Life well lived
In his award-winning The Time Of Your Life, American playwright William Saroyan lays bare the lives of the habitués of a rundown waterfront bar in 1939. Trust Soulpepper to capture the period and provide a strong ensemble production under Albert Schultz's direction, with a large cast headed by Joseph Ziegler, Derek Boyes, Patricia Fagan, Kevin Bundy and Michael Simpson. Previews begin July 4, opens July 10 and runs to August 11 at the Young Centre (55 Mill). 416-866-8666.
Something from Nothing
One of the few local professional companies still presenting the Bard in a park setting is Driftwood Theatre, which is touring Much Ado About Nothing around the province. Director Jeremy Smith sets the action in a fictional central Canadian town just after the First World War, with the bickering and crowd-pleasing leads Beatrice and Benedick played by Helen King and Andrew Scanlon. July 31 to August 2 at Trinity Bellwoods Park and August 12 at Withrow Park, the former home of Shakespeare in the Rough. 905-576-2396.
For many theatregoers, the busiest time of the year is the 12-day Toronto Fringe. Nine-to-5 jobs, meals and sometimes even families are put aside while avid fans run from one venue to another. This year's fest, the biggest ever with 140 shows, features some old faves (Nicola Gunn, Chris Gibbs, TJ Dawe, Justin Sage-Passant, Nicholas Carella, Michelle Ouellet, Sue Miner, the Rumoli Brothers) and a slew of newbies. July 4 to 15 at various venues around town. 416-966-1062.
The cause is no joke, but expect a seriously hilarious show when five of the T-dot's funniest females gather on the Yuk Yuks stage for Women 4 Women, a fundraiser supporting Ernestine Women's Shelter. The fabulous Debra DiGiovanni hosts local faves Laurie Elliott, Katie Crown and Dawn Whitwell. Headlining the whole she-bang: Sabrina Jalees, a rising star and the youngest stand-up ever added to Yuk Yuk's professional roster. July 8.
Yonge-Dundas Square (plus Yonge from Dundas to Queen) makes like the tower of babble when 80 international acts converge for the Just For Laughs street theatre celebration. Highlights include Russell Peters, extreme martial artists Team Ryouko and German pyromaniac comedy troupe Bngditos. If you see two giant mushrooms walking around, you're not hallucinating - it's France's Thétre de la Toupine's act Les Champignons. Best of all, it's free, so even a struggling comic can afford to check it out. Jul 27 and 28. 416-872-4255, www.hahaha.com.
Give us a breakdance
Global warming isn't the only thing heating up the lakeshore. Harbourfront's Beats, Breaks And Culture explores electronic music and its soul, funk and jazz roots. The fest includes the ever-hot dance-off Pop, Lock And Load IV. This major breakdance competition - Canada's largest - offers a sweet $1,000 purse to the winner. Mix master DJ Serious returns to spin the funk, hiphop and soul so local and international B-boys and B-girls can show off their best moves. July 6 to 8. 416-973-4000, www.harbourfrontcentre.com.