An alternative musical, an expanded world-class comedy festival and lots of outdoor events are among the big draws this summer
A is for Adult
A poor but optimistic college grad comes to New York City and moves into an apartment on Avenue Q, whose residents are both live actors and hand puppets. It might sound cutesy, but the Broadway musical hit by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty is anything but. The show’s a blend of kids’ Sesame Street-?style learning and the kind of adult situations Big Bird would never run into. Dancap presents the touring show at the Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge) from July 29. 416-?872-?5555.
B-?boying and breaking are hotter than ever, in no small part thanks to that awesome doc Planet B-?Boy. If you haven’t seen it, the film screens as part of Harbourfront’s Beats, Breaks & Culture fest (Friday to Sunday, July 4 to 6). But why sit in a dark room when you can watch the real thing? More than 20 crews from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Colombia compete for $1,500 and major bragging rights in the Pop, Lock And Load competition (July 5 and 6). Some confirmed acts include M.E.C., Unity, Albino Zebras, the Rude Boy Posse, Canadian Floor Masters and Guilty Brats. Free. Around 235 Queens Quay West. 416-?973-?4000.
Last year’s Just For Laughs Toronto fest was a big success and raised lots of awareness, especially with the Yonge-?Dundas neighbourhood closed to traffic. This year’s is even larger, with names like Jimmy Fallon, Jason Alexander, Martin Short and Wendy Liebman taking to the stage, plus appearances by younger acts like Pat Thornton, Jo Koy and Sugar Sammy. We also like the fact that there’s a sketch presence and a greater use of the city’s other comedy clubs, including a homegrown series hosted by our own fabulous Debra DiGiovanni at Absolute Comedy. It all happens July 24 to 26. hahaha.com.
Place your bets on Horse Feathers, the latest by outdoor troupe Clay & Paper Theatre, which regularly stages productions about little-?known local history. Written by David Anderson and Krista Dalby, the show uses stilt walkers, music and large-?scale puppets to trace the history of the Dufferin Race Track, which occupied the site of the current Dufferin Mall. From July 16 at Dufferin Grove Park, which is big enough that you won’t have to jockey for a good seat. clayandpapertheatre.org.
Think a solo show doesn’t allow for much dramatic range? Kenneth Welsh’s tour-?de-?force rendition of Under Milk Wood should make you change your mind. Last year’s Luminato hit returns as part of the Soulpepper season. Written as a radio play, Dylan Thomas’s lyric yet comical look at a day in a Welsh village features more than 50 characters, all voiced by Welsh. Ted Dykstra directs, with music by Mike Ross. From July 11 at the Young Centre (55 Mill) 416-?866-?8666.
Older and useful
A few years ago, three hilarious female teenagers named Mae Martin, Gaby Leith and Nicole Simon dubbed themselves the Young and the Useless, stormed the comedy clubs and got a ton of press and laughs. Then they disappeared. Until this summer. Now they’re reuniting – “kind of,” according to member Martin – for a series of shows about friendship and post-pubescent life called Planet Platonic at Bread & Circus (193½ Baldwin). Could be a nice indie alternative to Just For Laughs. July 25 to 27. 416-?792-?7040.
Park it here
What would the summer be without outdoor dance? The always well-?programmed Dusk Dances continues its journey throughout Ontario’s parks. The series comes downtown in August, when choreographers Santee Smith, Karen Kaeja, Sashar Zarif and others showcase their work in Withrow Park, at Logan and Carlaw. August 12 to 17. www.duskdances.ca.