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WEEKENDER: A Show of Hands at Shenkman, Billy Elliot at the NAC, and four more fab events to start your January right

Billy Elliot plays at the National Arts Centre until January 7.

BROADWAY PRESENTS BILLY ELLIOT
Strap on your dancing shoes! The 2012-2013 season of Broadway Across Canada at the National Arts Centre has featured some of the biggest titles to ever hit the stage. The New Year kicks off with Billy Elliot, the celebratory tale of a boy who discovers his passion for ballet and, in doing so, inspires his family, friends, and entire community. The show is comprised of a phenomenal cast of 45, as well as the Tony Award-winning team that includes director Stephen Daldry, choreographer Peter Darling, writer Lee Hall, and a score by Elton John. Tuesday, January 1, to Sunday, January 7, see website for showtimes. $50-$96. National Arts Centre, Southam Hall, 53 Elgin St., www.nac-cna.ca.

BLACK BOX THEATRE FESTIVAL
The Gladstone is hosting the Black Box Theatre Festival, a series of one-act plays that toured across Canada earlier in the year. The festival will be wrapping up in January with Underbelly, winner of the Georgia Straight Critics’ Choice Award at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival. This one-man performance by actor/creator Jayson McDonald pays homage to the influential American author William S. Burroughs, incorporating poetic tangents and memorable insights into his wild and quirky life. There are even character cameos from a few of Burroughs’ good friends, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, which is sure to add some extra flair to the performance. Wednesday, January 5, to Monday, January 7, 8 p.m. $13-$18. The Gladstone, 910 Gladstone Ave., www.thegladstone.ca.

A COMPANY OF FOOLS: TWELFTH NIGHT
Join a Company of Fools Theatre in wrapping up the Christmas season and bringing in the New Year with their Twelfth Night Celebration. The Fools take classic Shakespearean literature and put their own (ridiculous) spin on it, making for a truly hilarious performance. This celebration started in the basement of a Royal Oak pub during the ‘90s, and has since developed into a local sensation that attracts sell-out crowds at the NAC’s Fourth Stage. There will also be raffle prizes, a preview of the upcoming season, and a feast fit for a king. Join the Fools for an evening of fun, fundraising, and the launch of a new “Fool-ish” year! Saturday, January 5, 7:30 p.m. $31. National Arts Centre, Fourth Stage, 53 Elgin St., www.fools.ca.

CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM EXHIBITION 1812
As the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 comes to a close, so will the exhibition at the Canandian War Museum commemorating this turning point in Canadian history. Although the award-winning exhibition will end on Sunday, January 6, it’s drawn over 110,000 visitors since opening its doors in June of this year. The exhibit explores the War of 1812 from four different, but intertwined, historical perspectives: Canadians, Americans, the British, and Native Americans. Visitors can learn more about the complex conflict that ultimately helped pave the way to confederation and nationhood. 1812 features more than 160 artifacts, including iconic pieces from the museum’s own world-renowned collections, as well as other special collections from across North America and Europe. So for all you history buffs out there, this is your last chance to take a stroll through a pivotal part of Canada’s past. On until Sunday, January 6. See website for ticket prices and hours. Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Pl., www.warmuseum.ca.

"Seeing the Trees in the Forest" by Mary Kritz is one of the pieces in her exhibition entitled A Show of Hands. Photo by Frederic Dekkal.

A SHOW OF HANDS (FREE!)
For all the book lovers and artists out there, here’s an event for you. Mary Kritz is a teacher of “Creative Bookbinding and Book Arts” at the Ottawa School of Art, as well as an artist, and an ARTicipate grant recipient. Her newest exhibit, A Show of Hands, contains eight books, each made with unique materials such as clay, cloth, and acrylic, and each takes the shape of hands. Challenging traditional notions of how a book functions, the idea is to allow readers to interact with more than just the words on the page – visual imagery, feel, and texture all play a role in her work. With one of the books, “Tell Me a Story,” visitors will have the opportunity to create their own narrative, as pieces can be moved around, changing the order and content of the story. Tuesday, January 8, to Thursday, January 27, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The vernissage takes place Monday, January 14, from 7 to 9 p.m. Shenkman Arts Centre (Lalande + Doyle Exhibition Space), 245 Centrum Blvd., www.bookartiste.blogspot.ca.

FURY: PORTRAITS OF TURBULENT SKIES
Storm’s a-brewin’! The Canadian Museum of Nature is featuring Ottawa artist Stephen Hutchings’ powerful and breathtaking paintings of menacing weather. With canvasses that measure a whopping 8 ft. x 8 ft., his paintings reflect his profound fascination with inclement weather patterns (like Snowmageddon, perhaps?) and their ability to act as metaphors that “express the fears and terrors of contemporary life.” Eight pieces of art will be shown during the exhibition, which coincides with the museum’s newest installation, Nature Unleashed: Inside Natural Disasters. Open until Sunday, March 3. See website for hours and pricing. The Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod St., www.nature.ca.