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Summer culture preview: Our 60+ picks for the movies, music, books, TV and more to get excited about

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By Star staff

Over the past weekend, the Star’s reporters, editors and critics compiled lists of the arts and culture items they’re most looking forward to this summer. We’ve compiled those stories into a single space here. Enjoy!

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Toronto Star illustration using photos from NETFLIX, APPLE TV PLUS, FX, HBO and Amazon MGM Studios

Looking to beat the heat this summer but nowhere near a lake? Stay inside with the AC on and check out the top picks from the Star’s TV critic Debra Yeo, including the return of major fantasy series “House Of The Dragon” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” a new Netflix comedy series set during the 14th-century plague, plus the highly-anticipated third season of “The Bear.”


Ice Spice, Kehlani, Sabrina Carpenter, Megan Thee Stallion and Nick Cave are all releasing new albums this summer.

Looking for a soundtrack for your summer road trips, pool parties and barbecues, but find it difficult to keep up with new releases? The Star’s Richie Assaly shares a list of new releases on his radar, including projects from Kehlani, Megan Thee Stallion, Jamie xx and Nick Cave and many more.

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Our summer reading guide includes new books from Ann Powers, Aaron Williams and Stephen Kimber.

One of the luxuries of summer is that we’re encouraged to slow down, take some time to ourselves and relax — and opening a good book is a time-honoured way to while away summer hours.

From the immersive to the informative, from doorstoppers to books we can dip into and out of, we all have our favourite summer reads. Here are 20 top picks from the Star’s Deborah Dundas, including new titles from Michelle Hebert, Erin Brubacher and Ann Powers.

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The AGO’s upcoming summer show features paintings by Gerhard Richter (left), Mark Rothko (centre) and Alex Colville (right).

Modernism was the defining force of 20th-century art. Across literature, dance and film, modernist artists rebelled against tradition to create a new way of seeing. In visual art, painters moved away from realism, and instead explored how colour and shape on the surface of a canvas could express both emotion and ideas.

The AGO’s momentous new show “Moments in Modernism” features 50 modernist paintings from its permanent collection. Art writer explains the story behind five canvases of particular note, including work by Mark Rothko and Alex Colville.

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There’s no killer combo like “Barbenheimer” on the horizon this year, but there are a lot of great films heading to theatres that could potentially save the summer from a mediocre box office showing. Here’s film writer Peter Howell’s list of the 10 most anticipated movies, including “Twisters,” “A Quiet Place: Day One,” and Yorgos Lanthimos’s “Kinds of Kindness.”


Toronto Star illustration using photos from St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, Ryan Parker, Capitol Theatre Port Hope, Guild Festival Theatre, Blyth Festival, Lighthouse Festival, and The Thousand Islands Playhouse

Live theatre in southern Ontario is kicking into high gear as arts organizations prepare to raise the curtain for a busy summer season.

While Stratford and Niagara-on-the-Lake are perhaps the province’s most recognizable theatre towns, there’s a rich history of the performing arts in communities across Ontario. And this summer, there’s no shortage of offerings — from Canadian classics and riotous comedies to world premieres and frothy family musicals. The Star’s culture reporter Joshua Chong has a list of the productions you should see at lesser-known theatre companies in southern Ontario, including “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Tempest” and “The Full Monty.”

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TORONTO, ON- JUNE 10 – Principal dancer Heather Ogden, who will be dancing in all three acts of Jewels (Emeralds, Rubies, Diamonds), the Balanchine ballet at the National Ballet. in Toronto. June 10, 2024. Steve Russell/Toronto Star

Heather Ogden is about to achieve a career first.

On Saturday, when the National Ballet revives George Balanchine’s 1967 masterwork, “Jewels”, the celebrated principal dancer will, over successive nights, dance the lead in all three stylistically very different sections: “Emeralds,” “Rubies,” and “Diamonds.”

This is an astonishingly rare feat in the world of dance. In fact, says Margaret Tracey — who along with her younger sister Kathleen, both former members of “Mr. B’s” New York City Ballet, is staging “Rubies” in Toronto — it’s uncommon for one ballerina to perform all three over the span of a career, let alone during a single run of performances.

Ogden, however, is a special talent. She joined the National Ballet at age 17 in 1998, and knows “Jewels” from the bottom up. She began dancing the ballet in the corps before graduating to the lead ballerina roles.

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