Watch this because: It could well be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Lifelong New Yorker King and her producer partner Jeremy Most decamped upstate to record Scenery, the followup to her lauded 2015 release The Switch. The new album is less a rural retreat, and more like a flag-planting for her brand of superior R&B, and about time on that. Her career’s been one of stops and starts and highs and lows, from a Grammy-nominated debut over a decade ago to nearly quitting the biz and now this latest indie chapter. Blessed with a sweet and agile voice, and touring with a six-piece band that includes Most and a couple of backup singers, it all sounds well set up for her overdue Toronto debut. (Mod Club, 722 College St., doors 7 p.m.)
Watch this if: You thought your wedding was too expensive.
What it means (and costs) to get married in China has changed just as dramatically as nearly everything else about life in the world’s most populous nation since the loosening of Communist Party restrictions. In this month’s selection in Hot Docs’ Doc Soup program, director Olivia Martin-McGuire gives viewers a glimpse of what may be the weirdest part of China’s $80-billion wedding industry: the business dedicated to providing soon-to-be brides and grooms with ultra-lavish pre-wedding portraits. The effect all this extravagance has on more mundane matters (like love) will be further explored when Martin-McGuire speaks with host Rachel Giese in Q&As that follow her film’s two screenings this week. (Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., 6:30 p.m., also Feb. 7 at 6:45 p.m.)
Watch this if: You’ve got travel envy.
This is the time of year when people leave town for sunnier climates and tropical cocktails. But, even if you’re staying in town, you can get a taste of the glamour of international travel in the latest show from Montreal contemporary circus company Cirque Éloize, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It takes its setting of a glamorous hotel to the next level; the guests here are strongmen, clowns, contortionists and acrobats, and they perform to an original score by Éloi Painchaud. (Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., 7:30 p.m., on until Feb. 16)
- Drunk Girl & Everybody Dies in December
Watch this if: You need some help getting through these cold winter days.
Winter can be hard: it’s easy to become isolated, there’s less sun and maybe we adopt an unhealthy habit or two. Luckily for Torontonians, two award-winning solo shows starring fierce feminist performers are joining forces this week. In Drunk Girl, Thea Fitz-James (Naked Ladies) fuses an academic lecture with personal storytelling to explore the many layers within a woman who likes to drink (a lot). And in Everybody Dies in December, Nancy Kenny (Roller Derby Saved My Soul) places a complex mother-daughter relationship within a family funeral home business. (Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave., 7:30 p.m., on until Feb. 10)
- Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration
Watch this if: You want to see (and hear) stars celebrate a music legend.
Over two nights last November at the Music Center in L.A.’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, famous friends and fans gathered to pay tribute to Joni Mitchell on the occasion of the fabled singer-songwriter’s 75th birthday. In a one-night engagement at two Cineplex locations, this film presents performances and other moments captured at the concerts, whose impressive lineup included James Taylor, Diana Krall, Emmylou Harris, Graham Nash, Seal, Norah Jones and Los Lobos. Expect plenty of shots of Mitchell looking at the stage approvingly from the audience, though we hope she also got some cake out of the deal. (Cineplex Yonge-Dundas, 1 Dundas St. E., and Odeon Eglinton Town Centre, 22 Lebovic Ave., various times)
Watch this for: Bliss.
In little more than a decade, the Icelandic composer and producer has gone a lot of places, from hardcore beginnings (in a Reykjavik band called Fighting Sh–, no less) into techno, Chopin, award-winning soundtracks, field recordings and, most prominently, as a composer of quiet mini-masterpieces that often borrow discretely from points all along that ground. This tour stop mirrors a Luminato appearance last summer, with Arnalds, a string quartet and percussionists going over a career-spanning set list, with special attention to last year’s lovely re:member release. The quality and innovation make it a must-hear for newbies and repeaters alike, full of limpid, at times utterly gorgeous moments that hit the audience right between the ears and heart. (Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 8 p.m.)
Watch this if: You’re intrigued by the idea of an interplanetary mystery.
On Nov. 29, 1980, Granger Taylor drove onto Mount Prevost near Duncan, B.C., telling friends and family he was meeting an alien spaceship and going on an interstellar voyage. He was never seen again. Some of his friends believe he’s still in space; surviving family members ascribe his disappearance to a more tragic, earthbound explanation. This doc examines the strange case and the brilliant but troubled man at its centre. (CBC and CBC Gem at 9 p.m.)
Watch this if: You or anyone you know is a Sting fan.
If you haven’t heard yet, take a deep breath; Sting is coming to town with the musical based on his 1991 album The Soul Cages and his childhood in Wallsend, England, a small town relying on its shipyard industry. The Last Ship had a short-lived run on Broadway in 2015, after which it was retooled for a U.K. tour. Mirvish Productions is using that version to woo Torontonians to the theatre, as well as the promise that Sting will perform in every show. (Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 8 p.m., on until March 24)
- Margaret: The Rebel Princess
Watch this if: You’d like to know more about the woman behind The Crown’s other female star.
Among the many things that made the first two seasons of the royal Netflix drama so captivating was the performance of Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II’s younger and wilder sister. This two-part docuseries examines the real Margaret, who died in 2002, and how her life paralleled the social and sexual revolution of the 1960s, including her scandalous romances. (PBS at 10 p.m.)