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What to do in Toronto Dec. 22 to 28: Diamond Rings, Skydiggers, the Nutcracker and more

Diamond Rings finishes off a great 2012 with a DJ appearance at the What’s in the Box.

Norman Wong/Photo

Diamond Rings takes stage at What's in the Box at the Drake

In a Bowie-esque transformation, a few years ago the former indie-rocker John O'Regan became Diamond Rings, his nom de pop star and glam persona. With the release of his genre-bouncing album Free Dimensional, the electro-party-rocking artist broke big in 2012, a year which he helps close down with a DJ appearance at the What's in the Box indie-music fandango at the Drake Hotel, Dec. 26 to 30. Here are the three tracks you can expect to hear from Diamond Rings on Dec. 27.

Mainline, by Tensnake (featuring Syron): "This throwback new-jack attack from Berlin-based producer Tensnake and London up-and-comer Syron has been my favourite for the past two months. I usually waste no time and play this one first."

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The Giver (Locked Groove Remix), by Duke Dumont: "He's one of the best producers of the moment. Hypnotic vocal samples, solid 4/4 beats and the perfect ascending bass line make for magic music moments. The original is great but the remix is crazy!"

A Love From Outer Space, by A.R. Kane: "An often overlooked classic from this underrated British two piece. Originally released in 1989, it set the blueprint for most of the techno and electro that have since followed. Get rare if you dare..."

What's in the Box, Dec. 26 to 30. $5. Five acts nightly, including Sandman Viper Command (Dec. 26), Diamond Rings DJ set and Luke Lalonde (Dec. 27), Austra DJ set and Dusted (Dec. 28), Mymanherri (Dec. 29), and Zeus (Dec. 30). Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042.


The Merry Widow

Toronto Operetta Theatre has a genuine affection for the Viennese art form, here with a story about a young widow fending off fortune-hunters while pursuing a childhood comrade. Dec. 28 to Jan. 6. $58 to $84. Jane Mallett Theatre, 27 Front St. E., 416-366-7723.

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The much-loved folk-rockers give the second of two seasonal shows, this year with a new album (Northern Shore) to trumpet, in addition to the annual version of Good King Wenceslas with brass. Dec. 22, 9 p.m. (doors). $25 to $30 (available at Soundscapes and Rotate This). Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W., 1-855-985-5000.


"It'll probably be a bunch of nights at a smaller place," said Dallas Green. The sensitive singer-songwriter, who quit the hardcore Alexisonfire last summer, signed up for a reunion/farewell tour that does indeed bring the Juno-winning band to a stretch of humid club gigs. The four Toronto concerts are sold out, but tickets remain for a show at Copps Coliseum (Dec. 30). Dec. 26 to 29, 8 p.m. $40 to $50. Sound Academy, 11 Polson St., 1-855-985-5000.


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A Christmas Carol

"No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused." With that mind, Soulpepper's beloved annual production of Dickens's bah-humbuggy classic is a must-see. To Dec. 29. $32 to $68. Young Centre, 50 Tank House Lane, 416-866-8666.

War Horse

The musical about a thoroughbred serving its country in the First World War is on its last (four) legs, but we hear the giant equine puppet has a final kick as strong as Seabiscuit, and just as heartwarming a story. To Jan. 6. $29 to $130. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 416-872-1212 or

Without You

An autobiographical one-man show comes from Anthony Rapp, an original cast member of Rent who uses that hit musical's backstory and music to explore love, loss and borrowed time. To Jan. 6. $29 to $69. Panasonic Theatre, 651 Yonge St., 416-872-1212.


National Ballet of Canada: The Nutcracker

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. In James Kudelka's lavish seasonal classic, a troupe of virgin-white snow maidens and a dazzling winter flurry come together in a perfect storm. To Jan. 5, 2013. $25 to $180. Four Seasons Centre, 145 Queen St. W., 416-345-9595.


Colonel Tom Parker's Beer Barrel Bingo

Chicken, waffles and a popular game of chance? The honky-tonk DJ and bingo-caller Colonel Tom Parker has our number. Dec. 22, 2 p.m. Free. Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., 416-850-4579.


San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker

Given that the San Francisco Ballet was the first company in North America to present Tchaikovsky's dreamy ballet, it made sense for choreographer Helgi Tomasson to set his version in that bay city, specifically during the era of the 1915 World's Fair there. A film shot in high definition celebrates an enchanting sugar plum ballet – a foggy holiday tradition since 1944. Dec. 22 and 23, 1 p.m. Fox Cinema, 2236 Queen St. E., 416-691-7330.

It's a Wonderful Life

"Hello, Bedford Falls! … Merry Christmas, movie house!" The snowy, communal, smalltown tale starring Jimmy Stewart is Capra-esque in its black-and-white charm. (Because it's a classic Frank Capra film, but still.) Dec. 24, 3 p.m. Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., 416-637-3123.


Mozart's Magic Castle

The genius composer Mozart will have an effect on children with his beloved opera The Magic Flute, presented at Casa Loma by the baroque dandies of Opera Atelier. The production is interactive, with educational workshops and performances adding to the mansion's annual events featuring elves, strolling carollers and scavenger hunts. To Dec. 30, 10 a.m and noon (no performances Dec. 24 and 25). $11 to $20. 1 Austin Terrace, 647-725-1822.

Theatre Columbus: The Story

A carnival-esque nativity play is performed promenade-style in an outdoor setting, where audiences are advised to wear warm socks and indulge in the hot cocoa for sale. It's written by Martha Ross, who, according to Globe theatre critic J. Kelly Nestruck, is more interested in secular, existential questions than the birth of sweet baby Jesus. To Dec. 30. $10 to $27.50. Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Ave., 416-504-7529.

Sing-along Sound of Music

Follow the bouncing ball, for the the hills are alive with the sound of Julie Andrews. Dec. 22, 2 p.m. (1 p.m., on-stage costume parade). $25 to $35. Rose Theatre Brampton, 1 Theatre Lane, Brampton, Ont., 905-874-2800.

Sing-along Sound of Music

Follow the bouncing ball, for the the hills are alive with the sound of Julie Andrews. Is there an echo to these Alps? Dec. 27 to 30. $13.25 to $18.75. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-599-8433.

Christmas By Lamplight

No one takes a dim view of a lantern-lit Victorian-style Christmas, especially when taffy-pulling and mulled cider is involved. Dec. 22, 6 to 9:30 p.m., $27.95 to $32.95. (Dinner sittings at 6 and 8:30 p.m., $50.95 to $75.95.; reservation required, 416-667-6295.) Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross, 416-736-1733.

ROM for the Holidays: Paleo World

Hands-on activities involve dinosaurs, fossils, volcanoes, massive meteorites and more. Also, sources tell us that that the dino mascots are not only adorable, they're downright pre-hysterical. Dec. 26 to Jan. 6, 2013, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. $6 to $9 ($11 to $19, with Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibition). Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park, 416-586-8000.


TSO: Handel's Messiah, Dec. 22 (8 p.m.) and Dec. 23 (3 p.m.). Roy Thomson Hall, 416-872-4255.

Tafelmusik: Handel's Messiah, Dec. 22 (7:30 p.m., sold out). Koerner Hall, 416-408-0208.

Aradia Ensemble: The Dublin Messiah, Dec. 22 (8 p.m.). Glenn Gould Studio,

Tafelmusik: Sing-along Messiah, Dec. 23 (2 p.m., sold out). Massey Hall, 416-872-4255.


Puppetmongers: Cinderella in Muddy York, Dec. 28 to Jan. 5. Theatre Passe Muraille,


Traditional Scottish Hogmanay Dinner, Dec. 29 to 30. Gibson House, 416-225-0146.

Ballet Jorgen's The Nutcracker, Dec. 30. Markham Theatre, 905-305-7469.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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