Sarah's Weekend List, May 6-8

A 'yellow fever' magnolia at the Botanical Gardens, where a wealth of spring flowers and plants are blooming. PHOTO: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)
Sarah Deshaies produces the Andrew Carter Morning Show. Every Friday at 8:20am, she tells you about the big, quirky and off-the-beaten-path events happening in Montreal. Here is this week's list, with links for more information so you can get out and enjoy the city! Submit your event to sarah.deshaies@bellmedia.ca.

Happy Mother’s Day to your mom! And to all the moms, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, best buds and mentors who make the world a little better every day! Maybe ‘moms loving flowers’ is a bit of a cliché, but who wouldn’t want to traipse through the Botanical Gardens this time of year, with magnolias, tulips, forsythias and spring heats on full, colourful display? 

Les Amis de la Montagne launches Mount Royal Month with a series of discovery walks, a photo competition and more programming through the month, including a sunset summit walk Friday at 6pm. Lend a hand by taking part in the first of two volunteer-powered clean-ups! The first one begins at Smith House, Sunday at 9:30am…followed by a picnic and family activities. 

New feature film Peace by Chocolate tells the story of the Hadhad family, who fled Syria during the civil war, and eventually arrived in Canada in 2015. They continued the family trade by launching a chocolate factory in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The movie, directed by Jonathan Keijser, features Syrian actors (Hatem Ali, Yara Sabri) as well as a wealth of Montreal talent (Dawn Ford, Arthur Holden, Paul Van Dyck Laurent Pitre)... and a cameo by the Prime Minister. In theatres, including Cinema Forum, Cinéma du Musée and Cinéma Odeon Quartier Latin. 

The Planétarium hosts AstroFest, a celebration of astronomy and moon exploration for all ages. From 11am to 7pm, there will be workshops, presentations and arts and crafts. Astronaut David Saint-Jacques delivers a keynote on lunar expeditions at 7pm, followed by music at 8pm… and night-sky gazing with a telescope until 8:30pm. Saturday - free!

After a covid scare delayed her show last week, Avril Lavigne gives it another go Saturday, 7pm at Place Bell. Same venue, next night: ZZ Top rocks out at 7pm. 

Humourist Fran Lebowitz has a sit-down with Gazette columnist Josh Freed, then takes audience questions, at St Jean Baptiste Church, Friday at 8pm. 

Aussie alt-rockers Gang of Youths and opening act Casual Male perform at Studio TD (formerly L’Astral) Saturday, 8pm. At the same venue the following night, British prog rockers The Pineapple Thief hit the stage, 7:30pm.

Yum! The Grand PoutineFest moves to Galeries d'Anjou, near the old Sears, with over 20 poutines to choose from (including the burrito poutine!) and a variety of family-friendly fun. Friday to Sunday, starting at noon. (Shoutout to the organizers for offering up recyclable, reusable and compostable containers.)

Celebrate the Kentucky Derby at Ye Old Orchard Pub on Prince Arthur. Participants usually mirror the dress code in suits, dresses and hats and fascinators. Get swank, get a Mint Julep and have fun! This is the 10th edition of the Ye Old Kentucky Derby party! Saturday, 4 to 7pm. 

The Segal has just launched April Fools, an immersive rock musical cabaret created by Israeli singing sensation Keren Peles. Inspired by events in her own life, Keren spins a story about Eva, a woman who has it all - but is tempted to embark on an affair. A team of Montrealers and members from the original Israeli show have translated and adapted this for English audiences. Eva is joined by a female Greek chorus and her sexy affair partner, firefighter Daniel. I loved the music, and the pop culture touches. And don’t forget to download the show app on your phone - it adds a surprising edge to the story! Until May 22. 

Centaur presents the Canadian premiere of A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction, by Brooklyn-based writer Miranda Rose Hall. A theatre company manager has to take over the final show of her play tour after the actors back out. Naomi, played excellently by Warona Setshwaelo, delivers an indictment of overconsumption, an exploration of anguish and a dose of hope as she covers everything from the sixth extinction to kelp to motherhood. Also - the set is minimalist yet lush, complemented by a lovely lighting design.Until May 15. 

Newbie indie company Contact Theatre launches their second musical, Next to Normal. The Pulitzer-winning 2009 Broadway rock musical features Diana Goodman, a suburban mom who lives with bipolar disorder. An exploration of mental health and how one person’s experiences affects their inner circle. Until May 14. 

Infinitheatre presents the English-language debut of Marc-André Thibault’s play Mazel Tov. A shocking incident at an interfaith wedding leads the bride, groom and best man on a trip to the emergency room in this darkly comic story about harsh words. Opens Friday night at Kin Experience, 397A Ste Catherine W. Until Sunday.

Final weekend to check out Black Theatre Workshop’s Pipeline, playwright Dominique Morisseau’s look at the phenomenon known as “the school to prison pipeline”. Mom Nya is a devoted teacher in the public school system who works hard to make sure her son Omari gets into a private school. But will one incident threaten Omari’s academic career - and his future? The production has switched over to a French cast, at La Licorne this weekend. 

Nathan Macintosh headlines the Comedy Nest, Friday and Saturday, 8:30 and 10pm. The very funny Rodney Ramsey and Darren Henwood join the lineup on Friday. 

Variations Mile End is a dance school now launching a space for improv and comedy performances on the Plateau. Performer and manager Jason Grimmer launched comedy classes during the pandemic, and now students and comedy lovers can visit Théatre VME for performances. Four shows this weekend, Friday and Saturday at 8 and 9:30pm. 

On the bill at Montreal burlesque HQ The Wiggle Room this weekend: Sweet Coco, Roxy Torpedo, Clara Develours and Heaven Genderfck. Shows Friday and Saturday. 

Streaming: Mike Myers dons multiple costumes in Netflix conspiracy comedy The Pentaverate.

Arcade Fire goes for their fifth appearance on Saturday Night Live. Benedict Cumberbatch, who waltzes back into theatres this weekend with the much-anticipated new Doctor Strange movies, is doing hosting duties. Saturday, 11:30pm. 

St Jean Berchmans Church hosts a flea market, starting at 9am on Saturday and Sunday. 5945 Cartier, near Rosemont Metro. 

Church of St. John the Baptist hosts a rummage sale on Saturday, at 233 Ste. Claire, Pointe-Claire. Items on offer: vintage items, clothing, small electronics and toys. 

ONGOING

The Insectarium has reopened post-renovation with a fresh look at all the creepy, crawly, pretty creatures. The team redesigned the space to give visitors an intimate look at what it is to be an insect: in the Alcoves, vibrating floors and ultraviolet projections allow you to imagine how insects feel and see the world. Visitors get to move like an insect, too, slipping through cracks or trodding on rods hanging from the ceiling. Then you get to observe bugs up close, followed by a trip through the Dome, and finally, a greenhouse-like space, the Great Vivarium, where roaming butterflies are the special attraction. 

And reminder that the first signs of spring will also be visible nearby at the Botanical Gardens, and the Planetarium and the Biodome are also open - but getting your timed ticket in advance is an absolute must! A little further away, on Ile Sainte-Hélène, the Biosphère is also open. 

At the Montreal Science Centre, explore evolution in Human or explore the process of invention in Fabrik - Creativity Factory. Plus, the movie theatre is open, so you can sit back and learn about Sea Lions and the Great Bear Rainforest - in IMAX 3D! 

Stranger Than Kindness is a new exhibition based on the life and work of Nick Cave, the  Aussie-born artist known for his deep baritone and religiously-tinged lyrics probing love, religion and violence. We start in his hometown Wangaratta, then travel to London then Berlin, then a loving recreation of his actual home office. Over 300 bits of ephemera, from lyrics to letters, books to bits of hair, bring the show to livid life. Keep your eyes peeled for an email Leonard Cohen wrote to Cave after tragedy hit his family… Cohen is one of Cave’s inspirations, and that’s partly why Stranger Than Kindness is stopping off here after its inaugural run in Copenhagen. The show opens Friday at Galerie de la Maison du Festival, 305 Sainte-Catherine. Until August 7. 

At the McCord: Piqutiapiit celebrates and elucidates the incredible craftwork of Inuit women. Montreal-based, Kuujjuaq-born artist  Niap is the driving force behind the show. We view the tools and the practical works they helped to craft, including beadwork and clothing. And there is original work from Niap, who is currently artist-in-residence at the McCord. 

Also check out the fascinating exhibit JJ Levine: Queer Portraits. The Montreal artist presents 52 intimate images of people who self-identify as queer, selected from three different series taken between now and 2006. 

Indie venue Montreal Improv is back, at its new home in St Henri. Catch one or more of the four shows up this weekend! Tickets and schedules here

Cabaret Celeste is a new show at the recently renovated Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel. A meeting room has been converted to a cozy cabaret space for this Cirque Éloize production, which was cancelled hours before its original opening back in December (thanks, Omicron). Celeste draws inspiration from the astrophysical… think tarot, horoscopes, planets and deities … and it is by equal turns sensual and silly! I loved the creative clay juggling act, and the master of ceremony’s Cyr wheel act. The talented and gorgeous Coral Egan provides the vocals through a slew of pop songs, ranging from Frank Sinatra to Coldplay to Leonard Cohen. 

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts presents Nicolas Party: L'heure mauve, a look at the Swiss artist’s pastels, watercolours and sculptures, set against murals he’s painted in the Museum… plus with 50 works selected by Party from the Museum’s collection. The show title is a reference to ‘that fleeting moment when the fading light casts purple hues over the landscape’ - how dreamy! 

Exporail, the Canadian train museum in St Constant presents: Train, a Railroad to Dreams: A World in Miniature. It’s an homage to toy trains… so you start with the smallest of the trains, then pivot to marvel at the 50 life-size vehicles on display in the Grand Gallery.

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