Must-see Montreal events in January 2017

Here are some Montreal arts and culture highlights for January 2017:

The year kicks off with the Broadway touring production of the Tony-winning musical Kinky Boots which headlines Salle Wilfred-Pelletier from Jan. 3 to 8. After winning Best Original Score at the 2013 Tony Awards, Cyndi Lauper told me, “I didn’t stop to think I was the first woman to win that award [solo because] there were a lot of men involved, people who understood me, like playwright Harvey Fierstein.” To purchase tickets, visit

Over in Old Montreal, the Centaur Theatre presents its 20th annual Wildside Festival, showcasing the best in Canadian indie theatre, from Jan. 5 to 15. This year’s edition features seven plays, including House of Laureen: Backdoor Queens, starring the resident drag artists from Montreal’s fabled Café Cléopatre Cabaret: Anaconda LaSabrosa, Connie Lingua, Dot Dot Dot, Uma Gahd and host Noah in a riveting backstage look at the reality of drag, performance and politics.

You can also see the House of Laureen headline at Cleopatra’s on January 14 at 10 pm (after their early evening performance at the Centaur). The girls will perform their best-loved greatest hits with drag-king guest Biggs O’Toole. The show is offered on a Pay What You Can basis with a suggested donation of $12.

The House of Laureen headline Café Cléopatre monthly (Photo by Kinga Michalska)

The House of Laureen headline Café Cléopatre monthly (Photo by Kinga Michalska)

Later in January, also at Café Cléopatre, Montreal burlesque queen Velma Candyass presents the latest instalment of her long-running Candyass Cabaret on January 20. This month her guests include Damiana Dolce, Diane Labelle, Nat King Pole and Roxie Hardon. Showtime: 10 pm. Admission: $10.

If quirky Hollywood stars are more your speed, then Two Nights With Crispin Glover at Bar Le Ritz PDB promises to be interesting, at the very least: Crispin Glover will screen his 35mm film It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE on January 27, preceded by “Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show part 2” and will screen his film What is it? on the 28th preceded by “Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show part 1” (intentionally presented out of order). This will be followed by a Q&A and book signing on both nights. Admission: $20.

Meanwhile, last November I attended the press screening of director Barry Jenkins pretty intense drama Moonlight about a young kid who comes of age in Miami during the “War on Drugs” era—and whose own mother is a crack addict. The kid also struggles with his burgeoning gay sexual orientation and is beautifully played by Alex Hibbert as child Chiron, Ashton Sanders as teen Chiron and Trevante Rhodes as adult Chiron. This film deserves a ton of Oscar nominations, especially Ashton Sanders as teen Chiron. Moonlight is currently screening at Cinema du Parc in LaCité. The 2017 Oscar nominations will be announced on January 24.

Moonlight is an Oscar favourite

Moonlight is an Oscar favourite

If you’re a dancefloor diva, the good news is the 11th edition of Montreal’s global electronic music festival Igloofest kicks off on January 12 and features an all-new Nordic program, as well as legendary DJs and rising stars, notably the one and only Carl Cox who will spin an exclusive three-hour set on January 13. German DJ Chris Liebing will spin a special three-hour set on January 21, and French DJ Laurent Garnier headlines on January 27. Igloofest is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights beginning January 12 and winds down on February 19, all at their Jacques-Cartier Pier site (pictured up top)  in the Old Port of Montreal. Single entry costs $22 for Fridays and Saturdays this year, while dropping to a friendly $15 on Thursdays. Also beginning on January 12, check out Igloofest’s new Nordik Village created by seven Montreal design firms, each presenting an original vision of winter living, right by the Igloofest site entrance.

Opera buffs have two productions this month: The Opéra de Montréal’s 37th season continues with Dialogues des Carmelites by Poulenc (Jan. 28 to Feb. 4) at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier, while Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus will be performed by the top-notch Opera McGill at the historic Monument National from January 26 to 28.

Montreal’s ever-popular Danse Danse series presents The Batsheva Dance Company who will perform Last Work from charismatic choreographer and artistic director Ohad Naharin, whose Gaga language fascinates all audiences, from January 19 to 21, at Théâtre Maisonneuve. No less than the New York Times says, “This piece is breathtaking for the extraordinary dancing by the Batsheva dancers, and the way Mr. Naharin can evoke states of pleasure, pain, madness and a kind of animality—a sheer state of being in the body—through his movement.”

Over at the EVO Hotel on January 28, Black Theatre Workshop, Canada’s oldest and revered professional black theatre company, presents its 31st Annual Vision Celebration Gala to launch Black History Month in Montreal.  Trailblazers being honoured this year are actor and director Winston Sutton, who will receive the Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award, and Montreal arts, culture and community legend Pat Dillon-Moore will receive the Clarence Bayne Community Service Award. Admission: $125.00 per person (Tax receipt of $70.00 issued).

Speaking of theatre, two must-see plays open in late January: the Segal Centre for Performing Arts presents British playwright Michael Frayn’s much-anticipated classic 1982 farce Noises Off from Jan. 29 to Feb. 19. Directed by Award-winning Montreal filmmaker Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky), this play-within-a-play follows the on and off stage shenanigans of a hapless director and his ragtag group of actors who must pull their act together to put on a show. Then Infinitheatre’s production of playwright Oren Safdie’s Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, about a Jewish-Canadian gay author and Palestinian sympathizer held captive by a Palestinian terrorist, plays at the Théatre St. James in Old Montréal from Jan. 31 to Mar. 5.

The Focus: Perfection – Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition continues at Montréal Museum of Fine Arts which opens on Sept. 10 and continues to Jan. 22, 2017.

The blockbuster Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition continues at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts until January 22.

Last but not least, do not miss the blockbuster exhibition Focus: Perfection – Robert Mapplethorpe, which continues at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts until January 22.

American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once famously said, “I am looking for perfection in form. I do that with portraits. I do it with cocks. I do it with flowers.”

The MMFA’s Focus: Perfection exhibition deals with issues of gender, race and sexuality, and features Mapplethorpe’s famed photographs of New York’s underground BDSM scene, of which he was an active participant, as well as many celebrity portraits, including Richard Gere, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Deborah Harry and Mapplethorpe’s soulmate, punk-rock icon Patti Smith. In all, there are some 300 works on view, mainly black-and-white photographs but also colour prints, Polaroids and Mapplethorpe’s famed X, Y and Z portfolios, all three on display in their entirety: X shows S&M scenarios; Y, floral still lifes; and Z, nude portraits of African-American men.

About Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett self-syndicated his national column Three Dollar Bill in over half of Canada’s alt-weeklies for 15 years, has been banned in Winnipeg, investigated by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary over charges TDB was “pornographic”, gotten death threats, outed politicians like former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair, been vilified in the pages of Jamaica’s national newspaper The Gleaner for criticizing anti-gay dancehall star Sizzla (who would go on to write the 2005 hit song “Nah Apologize” about Burnett and UK gay activist Peter Tatchell), pissed off BB King, crossed swords with Mordecai Richler, been screamed at backstage by Cyndi Lauper and got the last-ever sit-down interview with James Brown. Burnett was Editor-at-Large of HOUR until the Montreal alt-weekly folded in April 2011, is Editor-at-Large of The Charlebois Post (Canada), is a columnist and writer for both Fugues and Xtra, writes the POP TART blog for The Montreal Gazette, and is the pop culture pundit on The Barry Morgan Show every Friday from 8:30 – 9 pm on Montreal’s CJAD 800 AM Radio. Burnett was named one of Alberta-based Outlooks magazine’s Canadian Heroes of the Year in 2009, famed porn director Flash Conway dubbed Burnett “Canada’s bad boy syndicated gay columnist” and The Montreal Buzz says, “As Michael Musto is to New York City, Richard Burnett is to Montréal.”

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