Toronto is one of the top theater cities in the world, with hundreds of venues showcasing everything from huge spectacles to intimate experimental pieces.
Many of the shows are limited runs at seasonal houses like Canadian Stage, which has been home to numerous world and Canadian premiers over the years. The theater’s season ends this month with a new production of Marivaux’s classic The Game of Love and Chance, and the 2012-13 season begins in October with a multimedia piece called Tear the Curtain!.
|Stratford Shakespeare Fest focuses on classics and new works based on classics.|
Toronto also gets many touring productions of Broadway hits, so shows like Shrek, West Side Story and others will often be in town. Conversely, many Broadway-bound shows also get their start in Toronto: The upcoming musical adaptation of the cheerleading movie Bring it On will be running at the Ed Mirvish Theatre (formerly the Canon Theater) through early June. (Visit www.mirvish.com/shows/bringitonthemusical for tickets.)
War Horse, a hit in both London and New York (and recently adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie), has settled into an open-ended run at the Princess of Wales Theatre. While the play, a drama about a boy and his horse and the war that separates them, is great for families, some scenes are very intense, and younger children might be disturbed by the depictions of warfare. Everyone else will be dazzled by the puppetry that brings the “horses” to life. (Visit www.mirvish.com/shows/warhorse for tickets.)
Soulpepper is a highly regarded repertory company that presents classics, modern classics and new works. Some upcoming productions include David Mamet’s Hollywood satire Speed-the-Plow, Neil Simon’s comedy The Sunshine Boys and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and Death of a Salesman. Before any of those productions reach the stage, however, local playwright Ins Choi’s new comedy Kim’s Convenience will be featured, giving visitors a chance to discover an up-and-coming Canadian talent. (Visit www.soulpepper.ca for tickets to all the shows.)
From April to November, two major theater festivals in Ontario attract some of the top talent in the biz, with Tony- and Oscar-winning actors like Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy making repeat appearances. Both festivals are about a two-hour drive from Toronto, and make for easy day-trips from the city.
In Stratford, Ontario, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival focuses on the classics and new works based on classics (although lavish musicals also frequently pop up—last year’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar just transferred to Broadway, and their productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas have been filmed for posterity). This year the big musicals will be new productions of 42nd Street and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown while the newer pieces include the world premiere of The Best Brothers. (For tickets, visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.)
In Niagara on the Lake, the Shaw Festival is all about 20th-century musicals and plays, with fresh takes on classics by Ibsen, Coward and (of course) Shaw. Lesser-known playwrights also get the spotlight (this year will see a rare revival of Githa Sowerby’s A Man and Some Women). The musical Ragtime, which had its world premiere in Canada way back, will be the festival’s main musical this year. (Visit www.shawfest.com for tickets.)
Where to Stay
The new Thompson Toronto has the only rooftop pool and lounge in the city. The hotel is also home to Scarpetta, the first international outpost of New York’s Scarpetta Italian Restaurant. (We’re eager to try the yellowtail with ginger oil and sea salt, or perhaps the moist-roasted capretto with rapini, pancetta and potatoes.)
The 889 Yoga + Wellness Spa has two treatment rooms for massages and facials. (The spa portion of the space was opening as of press time, so details are still to come. Keep an eye on www.luxurytraveladvisor.com for updates about the spa.) Reach out to Chef Concierge Paula Desjardins ([email protected] or [email protected]; 416-640-7778) for reservations or special requests.
In addition to spa bookings, Desjardins can organize local experiences (think shopping, restaurants and—of course—theater and concert events) as well as more far-flung excursions. Since the urban hotel does not have its own golf course, Desjardins can organize day-trips to courses outside of the city.
Top options at the hotel include the two Thompson Suites (Nos. 1004 and 1005), the Executive Suite (1001) and the Penthouse (1002), which has a 270-degree view of the city and can connect to a deluxe double room, which can also connect to a Thompson Suite for a total area of 3,750 square feet.
|Trump Toronto opened at the end of January as the second-tallest building in Canada.|
Superior rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and heated marble floors in the bathroom. Hint: Rooms ending in -04, -05 and -06 have the best views. Small families will want to book the King Suite, which connects to the King Deluxe room. Both rooms have a king size bed, making them good options for up to four people.
Luxury travel advisors should contact Executive Coordinator Sabrina Budhu ([email protected]; 416-601-3604) with any questions.
The Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto opened at the end of January as the second-tallest building in Canada. We hear the Superior & Deluxe rooms are the most popular picks, and that the Deluxe One-Bedroom Suites (Nos. 1108–2208), Grand Deluxe One Bedroom Suites (Nos. 2302–2902) and Grand Deluxe Two Bedroom Suites (Nos. 2314–2914) are best for families. (Good to know: All rooms facing south are considered premium view rooms. These room numbers end in -11, -12, -13 and -14.)
Top digs, however, are on the 30th floor, which has five independent suites, ranging from one to two bedrooms. When it opens in June, the Presidential Suite (No. 3005) will sprawl out over 4,000 square feet and is ideal for CEOs: It has its own media room with projector screen and plasma display for presentations and screenings, and access to a boardroom and lounge. There’s also a full dining room and kitchen. Good to know: Attaché service (providing personalized touches and serving as a liaison between the guest and the concierge) can be arranged for any room, as can in-suite chef service. Groups and families can book the whole floor. (While none of the suites connect to one another, booking the floor guarantees privacy.)
|Ritz-Carlton Toronto All suites can connect with other rooms or suites.|
At the Quartz Crystal Spa, the most popular therapies are the signature facials: Quartz Iridescence, Quartz Opulence, Quartz Platinum Silk and Quartz Crystal Radiance. (Tip: Ask for Holly Henderson for massages, and Ernesta Petrini for facials.) Medi-spa therapies are also available, including acne reduction and skin-tightening. In the summer, the spa will open an indoor, salt-water heated infinity lap pool. Reach out to Director of Spa Operations Daphne Swenerton ([email protected]; 416-637-5591) with any questions or requests.
Foodies and oenophiles will want to visit Stock Restaurant & Bar for a wine-pairing dinner with Master Sommelier John Zabo. (Seafood is a dominant theme at the restaurant, but we’re most impressed by the cheese menu.) In July, the hotel opens SkyPatio, a glassed-in balcony with six tables for two.
Chef Concierge Rhonda Chan-Maloney ([email protected]) and Trump Attaché Manager Aaron Harrison ([email protected]) can arrange in-city experiences like shopping excursions or reservations at top restaurants, as well as trips to Niagara Falls with private drivers, or tours of local wineries.
Luxury travel advisors should reach out to Luxury Travel and Entertainment Manager Frank Campo ([email protected]; 416-637-4428) with any questions.
The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto is another new entry into the city’s blossoming luxury hotel scene.
The two Wellington suites on the 19th and 20th floors have great views from the floor-to-ceiling windows and there’s a dining room for eight. The Ritz-Carlton Suite is the largest pick in the hotel, and has a separate kitchen and private service entrance (no interruptions during dinner!) and a fitness area.
Best of all, especially for families and groups, all of the suites can connect with other rooms or suites (depending on location).
The 16-room spa is located on the all-glass fifth floor of the hotel, letting in plenty of natural light. There are separate-sex and co-ed sunrooms, and a salt-water pool with views of the city. We hear the Flowers And Herbs Body Polish, Breath Of Fresh Air Facial and Cloud 9 Massage For Two are the most popular treatments, but we’re intrigued by the Five Diamond Spa Experience. Exclusive to the hotel, this therapy begins with a one-on-one yoga practice, and is followed by a full-body “Diamond Glow” treatment and a “Diamond in the Rough” exfoliating and hydrating facial. Next is the “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” manicure and pedicure, followed by a Caviar and Champagne lunch nibble. Contact Spa Operations Manager Maria Haggo ([email protected]; 416-572-8003) to make reservations for your clients as far out as possible.
At TOCA by Tom Brodi, some decidedly Canadian dishes include maple-dipped Ontario quail, seared Brome Lake duck breast, steaks from Wellington County and—of course—Nova Scotia lobster. For dedicated foodies, book a chef’s table in the kitchen so guests can watch Chef Brodi and his team at work.
Lead Concierge Melinda Wagner ([email protected]; 416-572-8040) specializes in creating unique experiences for kids. Recently, when an upcoming guest’s child seemed reluctant to travel, Wagner put together a backpack filled with magnets (which she had heard the child collected), books and other amusements as a welcome pack. She also organized a babysitting service and stayed in touch with the sitter to make sure everything was OK.
Reach out to Travel Industry & International Markets Sales Manager Jonathan Hamel ([email protected]; 416-572-8053) with any questions or requests.