Six big tickets: Drag shows, sappy songs, and sensational festivals

The best stage shows and cultural events in Toronto this month include everything from a renowned drag queen to a cutting-edge photography festival. Here are our six favourites.

1. Go to Contact

The 27th edition of the annual Contact Photography Festival is set to take over locations throughout Toronto for the month of May. In the Core Program, artists are presenting lens-based works in exhibitions, site-specific installations and commissioned projects at museums, galleries and public spaces across Toronto including the popular outdoor installations. This year the festival is welcoming several guest curators activating 21 sites across the city. The festival runs until May 31 and is free and open to the public.

2. See Sasha Velour

Internationally renowned drag queen, visual artist and newly minted author Sasha Velour is in town for the Big Reveal Live Show! on May 2 and 6, Bluma Appel Theatre, in support of her new book The Big Reveal: An Illustrated Manifesto of Drag.

The show is billed as an “immersive evening of drag, storytelling and live art, bringing Velour’s book to life.” Velour will perform and be featured in an in-person chat. There is also a special guest and a book signing.


 3. Check out Hayden

As far as sad and forlorn singer-songwriters go, one of the OGs of the genre is surely Toronto’s Hayden Dresser. Hayden started strumming beautifully mopey ditties in the bedroom of his Thornhill family home back in the early ’90s when the music landscape was decidedly different. He released his first EP In September on, wait for it, cassette, followed by his debut album Everything I Long For, recorded at his family home on a four track. It’s been eight years since his last album, but he’s back with Are We Good and will perform at the venerable Massey Hall on May 27. 

 4. Go to The Word on the Street

The 2023 festival will take place on May 27 and 28 at Queen’s Park. The festival will feature over 100 exhibitors and six stages of programming for book lovers of all ages. It is set to feature Canadian and Indigenous authors, an outdoor marketplace for books and magazines and dedicated children’s programming. WOTS was voted one of the city’s Best Local Events in the 2022 Toronto Star Readers Choice Awards. Some of the many authors set to make an appearance include Catherine Hernandez, Kenneth Opell and Zoe Whittall.

The Word on the Street

5. See The Sound Inside

Coal Mine Theatre is set to premiere its second show at the critically acclaimed theatre’s new location following the incredible production of Simon Stone’s Yerma starring Sarah Gadon. 

Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp’s mysterious drama The Sound Inside will run May 7 to 28.  

The play tells the story of Bella Baird, an isolated creative writing professor at Yale who begins to mentor a brilliant but enigmatic student named Christopher. The production will star the illustrious Moya O’Connell (Hedda Gabler, Middletown/Shaw Festival) alongside emerging talent Aidan Correia (Yaga, Touchstone Theatre). Considered one of the country’s leading stage actors, O’Connell transfixed audiences for 11 seasons at the Shaw Festival, including a lauded performance in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

6. Go to A Little Night Music

A star-studded production of the Stephen Sondheim classic A Little Night Music is running at Koerner Hall May 26 to 28. The product features the talents of TV star Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) alongside bona fide Canadian legend Cynthia Dale. Other notable cast members include Fiona Reid and Stratford Festival regular Dan Chameroy. Winner of four Tony Awards, this musical work is set in Sweden in 1900. A Little Night Music explores the tangled web of affairs centered around actress Desirée Armfeldt, played by Dale, and the men who love her.

The production is directed by former Toronto Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian. 

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO