Great Time for Trekkers Toronto is Star Trek heaven this month. Maybe it's because Capt. Kirk was played by Montrealer William Shatner, or maybe it's because this year marks the 30th anniversary of the "Star Trek" television debut.
The Ontario Science Center is hosting "Star Trek: Federation Science," a medium-size exhibit that will have the greatest appeal to hard-core Trekkers. Lots of costumes are on display, but there's also hands-on stuff for kids that illustrates scientific principles like propulsion and the pull of gravity. Best bet is to leave the Trekkers in this exhibit and let other family members enjoy the rest of the Science Center. Call (416) 696-3127 for information.
In addition to the Science Center exhibit, there's a traveling installation hanging out next to the ROM in what was the McLaughlin Planetarium before it closed last year. "Star Trek: The Exhibit" is loaded with costumes and memorabilia that fans of the series will appreciate. The gift shop is also great for the same audience and can be entered without paying for the exhibit. Call (416) 363-9141 for information.
On Nov. 22 to 24, Toronto hosts "Star Trek: The Festival." Rumors are that many of the television stars will make appearances around this time. A ticket to the three-day event is $99 Canadian. It includes admission to special events and parties, and admission to the exhibits mentioned above, among other things. Call (800) 205-7638 for information.
Kids Will Love it The Cushion Concerts, offered many Saturday afternoons at 1 at York Quay Center at Harbourfront Center, are great bargains for visiting kids ages 5 to 12. These musical productions are only $8 for a single ticket, and they run through April. Saturday it's "Peter and the Wolf" performed on a synthesizer, and Nov. 16 it's "The Snow Queen."
Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Harbourfront offers "Kaleidoscope," a creative craft program emphasizing reusables for kids. It costs $2 at the York Quay Center. Parents can accompany children to both these events or they can elect to tour the Power Plant Art Gallery. Exhibits at this facility are always avant-garde, and touring at 1:30 or 4 p.m. Saturdays or Sundays with a friendly guide is a good path to understanding. The new installation is called "Digital Gardens: A World in Mutation." Call (416) 973-4000 between 1 and 8:30 p.m. for Harbourfront information.
At The Museums The current highlight at the Royal Ontario Museum is "Bears: Imagination and Reality," on loan from the Science Museum of Minnesota. The installation runs from a whimsical teddy bear sofa, offering kids an opportunity to cuddle en masse, to great stuffed bears. Kids can pat different bear fur, ogle cases full of teddies and toys, and peer into a bear's den complete with tiny cubs.
This exhibit is complemented by "My Name Is Nanuq: The Diary of a Polar Bear," which features a gorgeous stuffed polar bear surrounded by enlarged diary pages telling of its daily activities. Both exhibits run through Jan. 5. Call (416) 586-8000 for information.
At the Art Gallery of Ontario, more than 50 drawings and painting by Montreal artist Paterson Ewen and more than 240 paintings of Quebec artist Ozias Leduc are on display through Jan. 12. Call (416) 979-6648 for information.
As the weather gets cooler, the free walking tours offered by the Royal Ontario Museum and the Toronto Historical Board are a thing of the past for this year. Good substitutes for those who want to duck indoors are the free tours of the Canadian Broadcasting Co. and Toronto City Hall.
Tours of the CBC are by appointment only. Call (416) 205-8605. At City Hall the tours are self-guided and can be taken any time. Call (416) 392-7341 for information. Meanwhile, the theater season heats up with new shows.
Opera and Ballet Opera fans have to wait until January for the next productions by the Canadian Opera Company, Berlioz's "Beatrice et Benedict" and Poulenc's "Dialogues des Carmelites." Call (416) 872-2262 for information. In the meantime, they can tide themselves over when Opera Atelier and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra combine their talents to produce Mozart's "Don Giovanni," Thursday to Nov. 2 at the Royal Alexandra Theater. Call (800) 461-3333 for information.
The National Ballet of Canada is justifiably proud of its Walter Carsen Center, a new facility housing performance, production and administrative space. It's the kind of behind-the-scenes support that may help the company produce a banner season. The National Ballet kicks off its season with a showcase of shorter ballets ("Cruel World," "Aquita" and "Voluntaries") and Tchaikovsky's "Onegin" in repertory Nov. 13 to 28. Call (416) 872-2262 for information.
Theater Eating New kid on the block in the theater district since the beginning of August is Bravi Ristorante at 40 Wellington St. East. It's a quick walk from the O'Keefe Center and the Bluma Appel Theater and not too far from the theaters on King Street. While the staff at some of the more besieged pre-theater dining spots can be rather blase, at Bravi everyone aches to please.
The restaurant emphasizes pizza (top price, $7.95), panni (all are $6.25), pastas and other main courses with an Italian accent. Guests can go quick and casual, but the ambience works for more dressed-up theatergoers, too. Each meal begins with great complimentary bread and olives.
A meal at Bravi is a tasty bargain. Call (416) 369-9030 for information.
At The Theaters Anticipation is building after two recent press conferences hyped the openings of "Jane Eyre" and "Ragtime." These major musical productions are the first to be conceived and launched in Toronto.
If the shows are as splashy as the conferences, they should be worth the high prices of admission. Both shows will have limited runs before they move on to the big boards of Broadway.
Nov. 22 is opening night for "Jane Eyre," a musical adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte novel. It runs to Feb. 1 at the Royal Alexandra Theater. The cast of 20 was impressive with the numbers it sang from the show. The show, which promises content as well as entertainment, is directed by John Caird, whose hand shaped "Les Miserables" and "Nicholas Nickleby." Call (800) 461-3333 for information.
Also strutting their stuff recently were cast members of "Ragtime," a musical based on E.L. Doctorow's novel. It opens Dec. 9 for an indeterminate run at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in North York. Terrence McNally, who crafted the Broadway hit "Master Class," did the book for this production, which features 32 musical numbers. Call (416) 872-2222 for information.
"Forever Plaid," which previously planned to close Sept. 21, will stay on at the New Yorker Theater until Dec. 31. Call (416) 872-1111 for information. At the Bluma Appel Theater, Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" runs until Nov. 2. Call (416) 368-3110 for information.
Other theaters have some interesting shorter-run offerings this month. A touring company of the perennially popular "A Chorus Line" kicks up its heels at the O'Keefe Center from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3. Call (416) 872-2262 for information. At the Tarragon, "Frida K.," last season's hit play about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, is back on the boards until Nov. 3. Call (416) 531-1827 for information.