Haig's performance in this show (at the Mosaic Theatre in Plantation) was little seen but indelible. An insular literature professor imprisoned in war-torn Beirut, chained in place for the entire play, Haig could barely move, not even stand, but nevertheless managed to conjure up a moving, nuanced portrait of a limited, conflicted man who discovers a well of strength he never knew existed. As a medieval scholar, Haig's character initially seems the frail one, a man living through his ancient texts in an ivory tower into which harsh reality never makes its way. But Haig reveals a man capable of something more, and shows us a strength derived from words, not force. Haig has always chosen intelligent roles, so it's worth your while to choose his performances whenever they pop up.

The Banana Bungalow is a youth hostel, but a nice one. Pastel-colored and improbably located in one of the most expensive tourist traps in the world, the bungalow is low-key and freewheeling. The young and adventurous from around the globe pour in and out of this place, wedged into the southern end of the Indian Creek waterway. They sit by the pool, play billiards, trade tall tales by the bar. The bartender decides nightly what the happy-hour special will be, but the beer is always cheap. A night will cost you around $15 to share a room with three other travelers; private rooms $50 and up.
They were proof of Miami's status as the Latin-music capital of the world. They were an engine of economic growth. They were a sign of our slowly developing political tolerance. They were a plot to thrust subversive Cuban musicians into our midst. They were the pride and joy of Emilio Estefan, Jr. They were the downfall of exile extremists. They were a glamorous, gaudy, God-awful fuss. But most of all, they were gone. Poof! Somewhere in Southern California, then-Grammys honcho Michael Greene is still smiling at his sleight-of-hand.
And the winner is.... Once again the award goes to Adler for his range of work and the professionalism with which it is produced. From gritty naturalism in the creepy and mind-bending Boy Gets Girl to lyrical musical drama in The Dead to the brilliant absurdism of Edward Albee's The Play About the Baby, Adler moves all over the stylistic map and handles each stop with assurance. His direction is marked by clarity, energy, and a palpable love for the actor's craft. It's no coincidence that many actors shine in his productions. Until someone else manages all this in one season, the crown remains firmly planted.

BEST REASON TO STAY IN MIAMI DURING THE SUMMER

Mo' curls

Sure, the heat and humidity is a killer. But just look at those soft curls you've developed, the streaks of gold in your hair, the silky texture. Who needs a high-priced salon when you can get touched up by the sun? Think of it as deep-heat conditioning for free. Indeed the only folks who don't have a reason to stay in Miami for the summer are, well, the high-priced stylists.
On a metaphorical sea four rafters (a soldier, an explorer, a priest, and an archetypal female) became more than refugees -- they grew into symbols of rebirth and redemption in Teatro Avante's rendition of Colombian playwright José Assad's Cenizas Sobre el Mar (Ashes on the Sea). An enigmatic elixir of magical realism and theater of the absurd, the play, written by Assad in 1989 to commemorate the 500-year anniversary of the so-called discovery of America, concerned four rafters who have been adrift at sea for 100 years. They are symbols of Latin America as a continent of people uprooted, at war, searching, creating and re-creating identities. The key to the play's success? The trinity of theater's most fundamental elements: script, set, and performance. Assad's wonderfully poetic text worked like waves, using the ebb and flow of fixed refrains to give it cohesiveness. Ingeniously, set designer Leandro Soto, an accomplished Cuban visual artist himself, wove together shells, rags, and rope in a circle on the floor, making the raft a blank canvas rather than the site for a real voyage. The actors managed to shape-shift yet remain recognizable. They were at once thumb-sucking and ornery children, raving madmen, soldiers, travelers, and lovers. Cenizas Sobre el Mar revived and reinvigorated the age-old symbol of the sea as the universal metaphor for life, travel, birth, passage, and death. We were lucky to have it wash up on our shores.

Who's afraid of putting on Edward Albee? Not GableStage. And this production of the playwright's mind-bending verbal labyrinth was a dizzying, enigmatic tour de force. Strong all around, from Joseph Adler's crisp staging through the tight and engrossing performances (including some nifty work from John Felix and Cynthia Caquelin). Add to the mix the excellent work of Jeff Quinn, Daniela Schwimmer, and Nat Rauch -- for sets/lighting, costumes, and sound respectively -- and what you get is hard to beat, even if it were competing in a theatrical capital.
The best new building won't be there much longer. It will be taken down not because it is an historic landmark no one cared about but because it wasn't meant to last. But while it stands, it's incredible to behold. Artist George Sanchez decided to create a model of the famous 1929 Le Corbusier house in France, an exquisite example of modernist architecture, and put it up underneath the I-395 underpass off NW Thirteenth Street. That's right -- Overtown at its most blighted decrepitude. It sits clean and sleek -- at night it glows -- amid the concrete and filth of Miami's neglected urban core. Sanchez called it "The Blessing." Maybe that's what the city will need to follow the artist's path and create permanent beauty and hope in an area too long without it.

Tropical Chinese Restaurant
Photo by Andrew Meade
This place is known for its amazing Saturday and Sunday dim sum brunches, in which customers choose from authentic comestibles presented on rolling carts. And it is precisely this movable feast that makes Tropical a great venue for a debut date. For one thing, you can order as much or as little as you want, which means the date can last as long or short as you wish. Like her? Slowly sample all 56 dumplings, buns, rolls, and tarts. Less than thrilled with him? Over shrimp rice pasta, develop a sudden seafood allergy. Want to test his spirit of adventure? Grab an order of chicken feet or fried squid heads. Need to know if she's got a gag reflex? Serve her a sample of congee garnished with a thousand-year-old egg. Best of all, whatever the outcome of this encounter, dim sum ends at 3:30 p.m., which means you've got the rest of the day to, uh, fool around.
Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion Leonard has done what retired fighters just don't do. He's crossed over from the exploited to the exploiter. He has become a boxing promoter. But Leonard isn't much like the parasitic thugs who control professional pugilism. He says he wants to make boxing shows more competitive instead of producing snoozers staged to build up the records of contenders. In two programs so far this year at the American Airlines Arena, both televised on ESPN2, Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing delivered two IBA world-title fights, including Roy Jones, Jr.'s first-ever bout in Miami, and some quality undercard bouts. You can't give Leonard all the credit for raising the boxing profile in Miami. The first fight program at the AAA -- Don King's Felix Trinidad-Mamadou Thiam matchup in July 2000 -- sold out, and the regular televised shows at Miccosukee Indian Gaming aren't all bad. Some sportswriters are saying Miami is making a comeback as a major fight venue. And the presence of Leonard, who recently signed Miami-based Cuban star Diobelys Hurtado, is definitely a catalyst.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®