BEST NEW PLAY 2004 | Blind Date | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Mario Diament's tale of five characters in search of one another proved to be a fascinating exploration of chance, fate, irrational obsession, and love at first sight. Delighting audiences at the New Theatre in Coral Gables, the tale involved a seemingly simple string of impromptu encounters and quiet conversations but was really a complex interweaving of characters and ideas that made for intriguing, intellectually challenging theater.

The ebullient, outspoken Adler might seem a complete mismatch with tart, taciturn Edward Albee (author of The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?). Nonetheless Adler's masterful staging of Albee's provocative tragicomedy at GableStage was a perfect meeting of master minds. Adler is well known for his gutsy, go-for-broke style, but his work with The Goat was particularly risky and insightful, put together with such skill that many of his roll-the-dice choices looked as if he were using loaded bones to make point every toss.

He's big, strong, a double-double rock of muscle and hustle in the center of the Miami Heat's tenacious defense. He has a soft touch on his jumper and adds a dimension of assets that can't be measured by stats. The iron man (with the forgivable iron hands) can even fish fairly well, his favorite off-season hobby. But it's those natty dreads (with a Bob Marley tattoo for emphasis) which remind all that the NBA presses on with a Quaker's sense of individuality. His hairstyle grabs attention the way he grabs rebounds, to the point that the Heat sells Brian Grant dreadlock headbands so that everyone who's six-nine, built like a mountain, and one of the most reliable players in the NBA can be just like him. Sort of.

Clearwood's performance in Stop Kiss as a restless New Yorker who finds herself falling in love with another woman was a significant creative achievement and a highlight not just of the Sol Theatre Project's offerings but of the entire theater season. Clearwood delivered a grounded, honest performance, and had to do so within a mind-boggling, nonlinear narrative, alternating scenes before and after a horrible crime. In so doing, she managed to reveal a fully human heroine -- dazed, confused, hilarious, and heartbreaking.

The multitalented Moreland has long been a South Florida favorite, but her performance as the boozy, deliciously nasty Miss Hannigan in the Actors' Playhouse version of Annie was a revelation. Moreland's comedic skills are tops, but she also discovered the character's dark, desperate side with disturbing clarity. Moreland didn't just re-create the role, she redefined it.

The renowned Bikel has been a major figure in American theater for so long, it's easy to take him for granted. But stage acting doesn't get any better than his turn in The Chosen at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. As an anguished rabbi, Bikel was both a deeply emotional character and a short course in understatement: What he didn't say and do was as powerful as what he did.

Fortune's Fool opened a year ago at the Caldwell Theatre up in Boca Raton, a bit too late to honor this actor in last year's issue, but the memory of Wade's performance lingers on and now's the time to pay him his props and give him his award. As a supercilious Russian aristocrat, he was a model of acting style and craft, balancing superb comedic timing with sudden, unnerving moments of casual cruelty.

This North Miami company devoted to African-American playwrights and culture has managed to survive a looong time, through thick and thin (mostly thin). Past work has been all over the map in terms of quality, but this season it all came together for the Ensemble. Jerry Maple, Jr., and John Pryor's resourceful directing and an increasingly assured team of talents are backed by solid production and technical support in the company's newly renovated studio space. Each show of the season -- The Piano Lesson, Strands, and now Flyin' West -- has been a significant step up in quality and power. What the "M" stands for must remain a mystery, but we do know what it should stand for: More!

While the powers that be in this town have pinned all their most delirious PR pipe dreams (and taxpayer dollars) on ill-conceived money pits such as the Performing Arts Center and more arenas than we have teams, it's the small art spaces and their starving inhabitants that are building the real-deal cultural infrastructure of temporal Miami. This Little Havana space, run by Artemis's lovely Susan Caraballo, is one of the city's sensory treasures. Surreal Saturdays, in particular, tend to mix different genres of art, from passive forms like sculpture and photography to performance art such as plays, interactive dance troupes, music, and intriguing social experiments presented as art. PS 742 has also played host to much of the Subtropics Experimental Music Festival, which, rest assured, will never be booked into the PAC.

In shops along Calle Ocho and Hialeah's Palm Avenue rest bundles of Libre, a Spanish-language newspaper published by disgraced politician Demetrio Perez, Jr. In 2002 the former school board member was removed from office for defrauding two women out of $18,000. The same year, the Miami Herald also exposed how Perez pocketed more than a million dollars in rent payments from public-school funds while he was on the board. Public disgrace is becoming common among journalists, so the sanctimonious Perez naturally launched a newspaper. His weekly publication is a testament to the man's enormous ego and conservative political ideology. Every Wednesday Libre readers are bombarded with communist-bashing propaganda from Perez and decrepit Castro antagonizers such as Armando Perez-Roura and Agustin Tamargo. Perez shamelessly promotes his other business ventures: An advertisement touting Perez's for-profit Lincoln-Martí schools and excerpts from his Citizens Training Handbook are examples. If you buy his worldview, you'll love Libre. If not, read it for laughs, really hearty laughs. You can't lose, even if you're just some illiterate sexist: Thalía or Shakira or some other bodacious Latin bombshell adorns Libre's front page on a weekly basis.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®