Friday, June 9, 2023

Critics’ Picks: 5 Must-See Performances This April

One of the joys cited in attending arts and cultural events is its fleeting nature. A one-night only event, an experience that may never happen again. However, one could argue that the most iconic attractions are ones that are available almost every night of the week. If this is true, than April is full of iconic attractions, as most of our top picks this month aren’t limited to just one day, but have several options for you to choose from. Our favourites are below.

For more details on other events happening in and around Hamilton this month and great shows to check out, stay up to date with our full event calendar

Schubert Festival

The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra spends the first half of the month reflecting on the work of composer Franz Schubert. However, the topic isn’t why this event made our top list this month; it’s the variety of events, networking and connection with other music lovers. The HPO has made sure that this year’s festival brings music lovers together- something that many have missed over the past few years. From a recital where amateur musicians are encouraged to perform for friends and family to a happy hour at Shawn and Ed Brewery featuring music and beer pairings to educational talks and piano demonstrations at a variety of venues in Hamilton and Burlington, the HPO is truly trying to bring classical music to the masses. The festival wraps up with the HPO on April 15, where they’ll present a mainstage concert at the FirstOntario Concert Hall.

Babes, Babes, Babes- Spring Break Burlesque Show

It was only seven years ago where burlesque dancers were being fined by the City of Hamilton and the art form crept underground to regroup. After a new bylaw was passed to allow burlesque in 2018, local dancers and performers planned a comeback only to be stalled by the pandemic. They’ve slowly been gaining momentum since reopening, and on April 6, the Staircase Theatre welcomes top Canadian talent to share a little comedy, a little dance and a lot of entertainment for the $30 ticket price. Headlining the show is Zyra Lee Vanity, who is recognized as one of the world’s top performers and who has also been featured at shows from Vancouver to Montreal and beyond. Joining her will be Buddies at Bad Times regular Belle Jumelles, Toronto Burlesque Festival performer James and the Giant Pasty and more.

Dundas Valley School of Art 52nd Annual Auction 

At an auction, a painting can go from one artist’s personal vision to a collector’s item in a matter of seconds. The Dundas Valley School of Art’s annual auction invites anyone to become an art collector while also supporting the school’s programs. This year’s event offers over 1,400 works to bid on, many featuring local emerging talents, leading Canadian artists and even a lithograph from Pablo Picasso. It’s free to participate in the online and in-person previews, with only those who eventually own the art paying for it. Bidding starts online as early as April 10, and to prevent the auction site crashing as last minute bids pour in, closing of items has been staggered between April 15 and 16. An additional 53 works will be held back for an in-person exclusive auction event, held at the school on April 14.

Tara MacLean 

Remember Tara MacLean? The Canadian singer/songwriter was everywhere in the late 90s and early 2000s. She toured with Dido, Tom Cochrane and as part of the iconic Lillith Fair; was heard on soundtracks like Bounce and Teaching Mrs. Tingle, and even had a small role in Coyote Ugly. More recently, MacLean has written a memoir, Song of the Sparrow, which came out on March 14 and recounts how the singer/songwriter’s inner strength and the sanctuary she found in music created a refuge and future for herself. Naturally, in addition to the book, MacLean has created an accompanying soundtrack of the same name, which she will perform at Mill’s Hardware on April 11. The intimate setting of Mill’s Hardware for $20 a ticket offers a much different atmosphere than her next show, only two days later- where she’ll continue with her book launch and tour at Canada’s National Arts Centre.


Theatre Aquarius closes their season by producing an original musical, Maggie, from April 19 to May 6. The true story focuses on a Scottish single mother between 1954-1976 and is a celebration of family, community and the joy and laughter that can be found, even in the darkest of times. Maggie’s presentation on the Theatre Aquarius stage is a long time in the making; the show had its start at the acclaimed musical theatre program at Sheridan College (known for launching Come from Away) pre-pandemic. Several performers from this workshop production will reprise roles on and off the Theatre Aquarius stage, including musical director Bob Foster, who has worked on Come From Away, Rock of Ages and the music for My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding. Following the world premiere at Aquarius, the production will head east to Charlottetown- and like Come From Away, who knows where it may go next.

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