It's about time Kwiat received recognition as a one-man repertory company. A chameleon of an actor who appears regularly in many local theaters, Kwiat is a director's dream. He can take the tiniest role and turn it into a perfectly realized character. Some of his recent work was memorable -- the brooding Irish drinker in The Weir and the embittered Yiddish actor in Smithereens, both at New Theatre; as well as his hilarious cameos in Comic Potential at Actors' Playhouse. But it was GableStage's Dirty Blonde that really turned into a Kwiat riot as he rolled out one carefully etched characterization after another.

Morgan has long been well-known and well liked on the local theater scene, but her work this season really showed off her range of skills. The British-born actress recently knocked off the crotchety Scottish housekeeper Mrs. Hudson in Sherlock's Last Case for Actors' Playhouse, plus some bizarre comedic cameos as an android actress and a wacky wigged hooker in Comic Potential, also at AP. And her work in Tom Walker for the New Theatre was a range in itself -- playing Tom's nightmare of a harridan wife and doubling as his new love, the harried Widow Baine. While Morgan has been lauded for each of these performances, it's the breadth of her abilities that's really remarkable. Some actors do well by playing the same role over and over. Lisa Morgan is never the same twice.

This year the nod goes to the New Theatre, Coral Gables's Little Theater That Could. It may be tiny in size but its creative vision is large indeed. Recently recognized as one of the top 50 theaters in the nation by the venerable Drama Guild of New York, the New Theatre promotes inclusion as well as excellence. It is one of the few theaters in South Florida that actively casts minorities in main-stage productions, and its policy of subsidizing student ticket prices can't be beat. Where else can a student with an ID grab a ticket to truly professional theater for just five dollars? Founding artistic director Rafael de Acha can always be counted on to deliver nuanced, elegant productions. Another asset is de Acha's eclectic programming strategy, which serves up a provocative menu of contemporary off-Broadway hits, classics (two Shakespeares are on the plate this summer), and especially new plays from a trio of talented playwrights: Nilo Cruz, Mario Diament, and Michael McKeever, works the company often commissions. It's this patient development of and ongoing relationship with writing talent that really sets New Theatre apart from the pack.

This stunning, dreamlike musical was not only the clear champion of the season, it was the best of the past several years. Featuring the gorgeous, complex chromatic harmonies of composer Adam Guettel and Tina Landau's textured, character-driven book, Floyd Collins tracked a simple, true-life tale of a Kentucky man who got stuck in a cave, a misfortune that became a national media obsession. Everything about this production clicked. The cast featured an array of local and New York talent at its best. To this add David Arisco's fluid and inventive staging, a simple but hugely effective set design from Gene Seyffer, great sound design from Nate Rausch, evocative lighting from Stuart Reiter, and Mary Lynne Izzo's carefully detailed costumes. The result was a daring, provocative production that set a new standard for South Florida theatrical excellence.

About seven years ago Robert Moehling, owner of the renowned fruit and vegetable market bearing his name, boarded a collection of turtles and tortoises for his friend Richard Paul, who was leaving town. Moehling was thinking trash removal. The creatures helpfully eat his organic refuse. Now the acre he set aside for the hardbacks has become an intriguing roadside stop. About 40 turtles, including bright-green spur-thighs, so-named because of the large scales jutting from their legs, mix in lethargic grace with others termed simply redfoots and yellowfoots. But clearly the star of the show is Centurion, a Galapagos tortoise who is between 160 and 170 years old, weighs approximately 725 pounds, and ambles about like a slow-moving coffee table. Apparently Centurion had some trouble sharing his space with a large Aldabra turtle named M-2. From the sign on the enclosure: "Centurion #11 isn't usually here because he can't stand M-2.... Centurion has his reasons. M-2 walks, stands, and sits on Centurion's food, cuts him off, makes disgusting noises, and doesn't make the proper Galapagos tortoise head-raising signs in greeting." You'll be happy to know they tolerate each other now, so you can catch both. Best of all, Moehling doesn't charge to view the beasts.

During his first season in aqua and orange, the dreadlocked one busted out for 1853 yards on the ground. That broke the Dolphins' single-season rushing record and garnered for Williams the NFL's rushing title. (He also broke Miami Herald sports columnist Dan Le Batard's record for most coverage in a single season.) The Dolphonics gave up two first-round and two fourth-round draft picks to grab Williams from New Orleans and have him run roughshod over arch-rival New York Jets, the New England Patriots, and the Buffalo Bills. Naturally Miami's NFL franchise, in typical fashion, wasted (check that: obliterated) Williams's banner year by missing the playoffs in yet another end-of-the-season collapse.

We've always had a love-hate relationship with Channel 7, whose local news programs best represent the kind of town Miami is -- loud, obnoxious, superficial, sometimes ridiculous, but family, you know? Lynn Martinez, a WSVN reporter and anchor for the past twelve years, is adept at handling the station's split personality. At 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. she's professional newscaster Lynn, delivering her lines with a snap and polish that would hold up nicely at the networks. But at 7:30 we get a glimpse of Lynn the mischievous wag as she trades barbs with co-host Belkys Nerey on the silly and thoroughly enjoyable Deco Drive, which would be nothing more than a half-hour ad for the entertainment industry were it not for the evident glee with which Lynn (and the impish Belkys) finesse the clever writing.

Readers Choice: Dwight Lauderdale, WPLG-TV (Channel 10)

While her specialty remains thrashing the school board, teachers' union, and classroom chaos, this "Pitbull in Pumps" (a nickname from her days in Tulsa television) has branched out recently. She's looked into everything from failing police radios in Miami Beach to prescription drug prices to medical fraud. For her fans, Jilda knows how to cut to the chase. To the retired dentist whose "resonator" had no tangible medical value, the relentless investigator asked, "Have you cured AIDS?" Does she have detractors? Of course, and she's proud of the long list. "Why do I have to explain it to Jilda Unruh?" one of the teachers' union members demanded of her when she questioned him about his bloated contract. Well, sir, because if you don't respond, she might just sink her teeth into you.

Some of América TeVe's shows are the boobiest in boob-tube history. Thanks to Tania, Rocio, Isis, Taymi, and Kathy's. Wrapped in shimmering, colorful, skin-tight outfits, they make even the dumbest variety shows exciting. Well, how else are you supposed to get people's attention? Fights about politics is another way. Let's get to the punch: Maria Elvira Confronta, the show with two impacting boxing gloves as a logo. The debate show, hosted by Maria Elvira Salazar, is the contact point between many real issues of the day and the viewing audience. The discussion (always in Spanish) often devolves into the talk-show equivalent of white noise because all four guests and Salazar herself are shouting at once. But at least it's relevant white noise. Is El Nuevo Herald a serious newspaper? Is the U.S. embargo against Cuba a failure? Is plastic surgery a necessity or vanity? Are beauty pageants exploitation or promotion? These are the kinds of questions that can provoke heavyweight bouts of rhetoric any given weeknight from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. Salazar has also drawn crowds with her solo interrogations of Varela Project organizer Oswaldo Payá and chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation Jorge Mas Santos. The station's programmers give viewers a one-two punch at night. After Salazar, Gilberto Reyes and Miguel Gonzalez (a.k.a. Los Fonomemecos) enter the ring to lower the blood pressure with El Mikimbin de Miami. This live studio show mixes serious talk with comedy, reality with make-believe. To wit: A guest like FIU president Mitch Maidique can suddenly end up face to face with Alejo Campuzano, a silly, tacky, and impertinent character performed by Gonzalez (when he isn't doing one of the best Fidel impressions in la yuma).

Readers Choice: WPLG-TV (Channel 10)

Sun may scorch our skin. Heat and humidity can blanket us. Heavy rains could bombard. Tornadoes might threaten. Hurricanes may barrel our way. No sweat. Don Noe's presence -- calm, cool, reassuring -- and his finely tuned forecasts are all we need. As chief meteorologist at Channel 10 (WPLG-TV), Wisconsin native Noe, a fixture on the South Florida airwaves for 24 years, is the consummate pro, confidently standing in front of his map and carefully explaining fronts, fog, barometric pressure, rip currents, and the like to a more-than-skeptical viewership. Telling it like it is, was, and will be. And more often than not, he's right.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®