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Winter escapes

There are plenty of arts-related events in the city to chase away those winter blues and get you out and about this January and February. Here are but six to get you started! 

Classical Beatlemania

Get a little help from your friends at the HPO and relish the extraordinary musical catalog of the Fab Four when the musicians Come Together and pay tribute to the music of the Beatles. Led by conductor Darcy Hepner, the familiar tunes played with an orchestral twist promises to create an evening where – unlike more typical classical performances – audience members will be hard-pressed to not burst out in song. You’ll also gain an increased appreciation of the talents of both Hamilton’s classical musicians as well as those mop-topped Liverpudlians, who all those years ago changed the face of music, virtually across the universe. Come Together! The HPO performs the Beatles, FirstOntario Concert Hall, Feb. 11 7:30 p.m.

Looking Down on History

Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky is known for his large-format industrial landscapes, where he showcases the destructive impact of global consumerism on nature and humankind. In 2014, however, he turned his lens on the scarred landscapes of Holocaust sites where, even nearly 80 years later, the ravages of the unthinkable tragedies that took place are still visible. Yet despite the tragic and sombre subject matter, the exhibit at the Art Gallery of Hamilton is called Chai – the Hebrew word for life – a moniker to remind us that out of the unimaginable devastation there were survivors and we have much to learn from their remarkable journeys. Until April 6 (noting that the AGH is closed for renovations until Feb. 10).

Join the Group

When an assorted melange of near-extinct entities – think wooly mammoth, smallpox virus etc. and played by real-life human actors, thank goodness – attend group therapy to help process their ultimate demise, they come to learn that their therapist is dealing with struggles of his own. In the world premiere of Clem Martini’s production of The Extinction Therapist, Theatre Aquarius audiences, along with the characters themselves, are invited to dissect the murkiness created when one’s heart, environment and personal mortality inevitably mingle. How does that make you feel? Jan. 25 – Feb. 1.

Descend into Disney

We are our parents' children, and for the offspring of some of Disney’s most notorious villains, this adage is a true cautionary tale. Hamilton Theatre’s production of Disney’s Descendants – the Musical follows the evil-doers’ progeny in their search for their own identities. While attending prep school alongside the kids of some of Disney’s most revered heroes, the two groups from different sides of the stories are forced to band together, and in the process, the teens learn how far from the tree the poisoned apple really falls. Feb. 17 – March 5.

Songwriters On Stage

Large-scale concert extravaganzas are always an amazing spectacle, but the intimate experience of listening to live original music in a small venue is unmatched. The Steeltown Songwriters series presented by The Casbah provides local talent – three each night – the opportunity to share their work with new audiences in an unpretentious, cozy setting, and appreciative audiences the chance to someday say “I knew them when.” Feb. 1 and March 1, 7 p.m.

Yes, and a Night of Improv Awaits 

Since reopening after a lengthy lockdown-related break, the venerable Staircase Theatre has become a thriving arts incubator, community gathering spot, and – as homebase to Staircase Improv – Hamilton’s favourite spot for performers to hone their comical comebacks. In addition to weekly drop-in classes, a more raucous Improv Jam is held on the last Wednesday of each month. During these hosted evenings of quick-thinking and rapid retorts, performers are invited on stage to test their comedic mettle, while audience members can choose their own adventure by suggesting scenes, jumping on stage to take a turn, or simply sitting back to enjoy a show that will never be the same again. Staircase Theatre, 25 Dundurn St. N.