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While the rocking was going on at the mainstage, the tent stage closed out the festival with The Peptides, the Ottawa group that is all about live performances. Photo by Landon Entwistle/Apt613.

Highlights: 20 show picks from the fall performing arts season in Ottawa

By Stewart Wiseman and Greggory Clark on September 26, 2018

The days of summer festivals and sun frolicking may be slowly fading away, but Apt613 has come up with a list of exciting shows to keep you busy this autumn Ott-umn.

Whether you’re in the mood for a night of thought-provoking contemporary dance, enlightening biopic theatre, or being screamed at by a hardcore punk band, there’s something for all tastes in the highlights below. Don’t see something you like? Find more suggestions in Apt613’s calendar of upcoming events.


The Weather Station

Ahead of a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play the same day as Paul McCartney at the Austin City Limits Festival, The Weather Station (a.k.a. Tamara Lindeman) will bring her modern country-tinged folk to Ottawa. The Weather Station’s self-titled new album has received glowing reviews and was nominated for the 2018 Polaris Prize. Be sure to get there early to catch Toronto folk-rockers The Highest Order.

📍 Azrieli Studio (National Arts Centre)
🗓 September 28, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $25

Royal Canoe

The Winnipeg-based art rock band is hitting only a handful of cities on tour this fall. We’re lucky to count Ottawa among 12 stops in Canada and the US, where Royal Canoe is debuting brand new music on stage. Once their next record Waver is out, on January 25, the band embarks on a tour of Europe—so catch the Juno-nominated group while you can. They’re a 6-piece unit, which is fairly uncommon to see on a club tour in Canada… but they’re making it work, and that’s how you know this is a band to see live.

📍 The 27 Club (27 York Street)
🗓 October 3, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $20

Tom Wilson & Lynn Miles

The NAC presents a unique double bill pairing introspective songwriters Tom Wilson and Lynn Miles. Accompanied by the NAC Orchestra, expect the pair of Juno-award winning wordsmiths to delve deep into their extensive catalogs. Tom Wilson’s show will incorporate elements of his new memoir Beautiful Scars, while Lynn Miles will feature songs from her latest album We’ll Look for Stars.

📍 Southam Hall (National Arts Centre)
🗓 October 4, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $40–80

Renée Fleming

Over a remarkable four-decade career, Renée Fleming’s name has become synonymous with operatic excellence. Returning to the NAC for an “in recital” performance, audiences can expect to hear classics from Mozart and Dvořák in an intimate setting. Aside from her distinguished career on opera stages around the world, Fleming has contributed to film soundtracks ranging from The Lord of the Rings to The Shape of Water, and recently performed “Danny Boy” at John McCain’s funeral.

📍 Southam Hall (National Arts Centre)
🗓 October 9, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $55–99

Jean-Michel Blais

Jean-Michel Blais is a young pianist whose tastes in pop ballads, classical composers, rural upbringing, curiosity of music and love of life have combined to produced melodies that appeal to music lovers around the world. Growing up in small town Quebec may not have provided many opportunities, but his intense desire to understand music led him to tinker with his family’s organ and paved his way to the Trois-Rivières Music Conservatory. Blais is coming to Ottawa for the second time this year.

📍 Azrieli Studio (National Arts Centre)
🗓 October 11, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $34

Michael Feuerstack

Ottawa-born, Montreal-based musician Michael Feuerstack is expected to fill St. Alban’s Church—where he performed recently as a member of Julie Doiron & The Wooden Stars—for his Natural Weather LP release via Forward Music Group and Record Centre Records. Known for his albums of eloquent, wistful indie folk, Feuerstack was recording music for more than 20 years before The Globe & Mail wrote him up as a “national treasure” (as though he’d been recently unearthed!).

📍 St. Alban’s Church (454 King Edward Ave)
🗓 October 20, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $13–15

Chilly Gonzales

Performing in his red-velvet bathrobe, slippers and socks, audiences are often left to wonder if Chilly Gonzales is really a rapper or a pianist? If he’s pop or classical? In his own words, Chilly aims to be “a man of his times.” His playful concerts blur these lines and have been known to evoke standing ovations mid-show. This year sees his return to stage to complete the Solo Piano album cycle with a one-hour set before he’s joined by cellist Stella Le Page and drummer Joe Flory to perform hits from the rest of his repertoire, which includes songwriting collabs with Feist, Drake, Daft Punk, and many more.

📍 Southam Hall (National Arts Centre)
🗓 October 22, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $45–76

Photo: Terry Steeves/Apt613.

The PepTides

“They’re a Broadway musical on acid,” writes Apt613 contributor Terry Steeves in her review of The PepTides at RBC Bluesfest 2018. Ottawa’s nine-piece and larger-than-life ensemble are an incredible group to see live for their five-part vocal magic, sexy choreography, and over-the-top theatrics that crank the entertainment factor over 9,000. Don’t miss the group which made the cover of Ottawa Life Magazine as “Ottawa’s Best Band” in 2017.

📍 The 4th Stage (National Arts Centre)
🗓 October 27, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $25

Fucked Up

Punk fans rejoice: Fucked Up returns to Ottawa for another night of sonic adventures and hellish screams. The Toronto group finds a way of bridging hardcore punk with artsy experimental rock. Led by the stage antics of larger-than-life frontman Damian Abraham, every Fucked Up concert erupts into a unique performance to remember. Their upcoming release, Dose Your Dreams, already promises to be worthy of the band’s brilliant discography.

📍 The 27 Club (27 York Street)
🗓 November 3, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $20

Bahamas in concert. Photo: Landon Entwistle/Apt613.


November may be the start of chilly weather, but a Bahamas concert is guaranteed to bring you back to those long-gone sunny summer days. After a stand-out headlining performance at last year’s CityFolk, Bahamas (a.k.a. Afie Jurvanen) returns to Ottawa for two-nights of laid-back folk-rock at the NAC. For fans of the now-defunct Maritime group Hey Rosetta!, lead singer Tim Baker serves as the opening act and will combine old Hey Rosetta! songs with highlights from his upcoming new album.

📍 Babs Asper Theatre (National Arts Centre)
🗓 November 9–10, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $41–69

The Souljazz Orchestra

The Souljazz Orchestra has been an Ottawa dance party staple for well over a decade. If you’ve lived in town for any extended period, it’s likely your money maker has been shaken by the band’s funky afrobeats. Their last doubleheader at The Blacksheep Inn sold out quickly—so buy tickets ASAP and figure out carpooling later!

📍 The Blacksheep Inn (753 chemin Riverside)
🗓 November 23–24, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $20

Stars return to the NAC in December. Photo: Stewart Wiseman.


The prolific Montreal indie-pop sextet returns to the NAC in support of their most recent album There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light. Stars’ recent albums are more suited to the discotheque than the opera, but with the NAC Orchestra serving as a backing band, expect deeper flourishes on old favourites like “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” and “Celebration Guns”. Teaming up with Plus 1, $1 from every ticket will go towards providing indigenous women and their children a safe and supportive environment through the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal.

📍 Southam Hall (National Arts Centre)
🗓 December 15, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $51–101


Series Dance 10: Lesandra Dodson + Crazy Smooth + Floorplay

The Ottawa Dance Directive is presenting a triple bill of contemporary dance for three nights in September. Choreographers Yvon Soglo aka Crazy Smooth (of Canadian street dance company BBOYIZM) and Lesandra Dodson headline the program, which is heightened by a bite-size performance by local dancer and choreographer Geoffrey Dollar.

📍 ODD Box (2 Daly Avenue)
🗓 September 27–29, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $20–25

Akram Khan in XENOS. Photo: Nicol Vizioli.

Akram Khan Company: XENOS

Award-winning visionary choreographer Akram Khan is bringing his latest work, XENOS, to the NAC for its North American premiere. Commissioned by the United Kingdom’s 14-18 NOW arts program to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of World War I, XENOS tells the story of a shell-shocked Indian colonial soldier fighting under the Union Jack. Khan has announced this will be his last full-length performance as a solo dancer. XENOS earned a perfect five-star rating from The Guardian and is a must-see performance for all fans of contemporary dance.

📍 Babs Asper Theatre (National Arts Centre)
🗓 October 11–13, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $35–60

Company Wang Ramirez: Borderline

With their first Ottawa performance since 2016, acclaimed choreographers Honji Wang and Sébastien Ramirez return with Borderline. Featuring original music by LACRYMOBOY, Borderline combines elements of hip-hop and free-cables to craft scenes that take the audience from gritty streets to aerial-freedom levitation. Accompanied by three b-boy dancers, Wang and Ramirez explore social boundaries through their physical performances combined with voice-over testimonies about poverty and dynamics of power.

📍 Babs Asper Theatre (National Arts Centre)
🗓 November 7–8, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $35–72


The Virgin Trial

Directed by Great Canadian Theatre Company Artistic Director Eric Coates, The Virgin Trial reimagines the scandalous story of young Elizabeth I as a modern day crime drama, complete with political and sexual intrigue. The Virgin Trial is a sequel to Kate Hennig’s lauded The Last Wife and explores themes ranging from feminism and female empowerment to victim shaming and sexual awareness. The Virgin Trial is sure to be a highlight of the GCTC’s 2018–2019 season.

📍 Great Canadian Theatre Company (1233 Wellington St W)
🗓 September 11–30, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $38–54

Fresh Meat

Theatre makers are invited to create and perform new 20-minute shows at the indie festival. Their works tend toward the experimental—at odds with traditional boundaries of theatre—and this 2018 lineup looks to be as freaky as ever.

📍 Arts Court Studio (2 Daly Avenue)
🗓 October 11–20, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $20

L to R: Graham Cuthbertson, Tara Rosling. Photo: Claus Andersen.


Despite her world-famous husband’s name in the play’s title, Silence: Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell shines a spotlight on the remarkable life of Mabel Hubbard Bell. Directed by former NAC English Theatre Artistic Director Peter Hinton, Silence traces the inspirational story of Mabel Hubbard Bell who learned to speak and lip-read in multiple languages even though a childhood bout of crippling scarlet fever left her completely deaf in both ears.

📍 Babs Asper Theatre (National Arts Centre)
🗓 October 17–28, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $35–93

Playwright/actor Jacob Sampson as Sam Langford. Photo: Nicol
Vizioli (Ship’s Company Theatre).

Chasing Champions

Proclaimed as one of the greatest boxers who ever lived, Sam Langford’s story has been largely mired in obscurity. Although he was one of his era’s greatest fighters, Langford was never given the opportunity to compete for the title of world champion due to factors ranging from racism to boxing greed. Nova Scotian playwright Jacob Sampson strives to bring Langford’s life and legacy to the forefront in his theatrical biopic Chasing Champions: The Sam Langford Story.

📍 Azrieli Studio (National Arts Centre)
🗓 November 13–24, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $54

The Hockey Sweater: A Musical

It is hard to believe Roch Carrier had any idea that a national phenomenon would rise from his short story about children playing hockey in 1940’s Quebec. Having already been transformed into a short film and quoted on the old paper Canadian five-dollar bills, the latest iteration of The Hockey Sweater takes the form of a musical. Directed and choreographed by Donna Feore, this musical adaptation tells the tragic tale of a Quebecois boy receiving a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey instead of the beloved bleu-blanc-rouge jersey of provincial-idol Maurice Richard.

📍 Babs Asper Theatre (National Arts Centre)
🗓 December 5–22, 2018
🎟 Tickets: $20–93

See the calendar for more show listings.