Miami Theater Center
Though Broadsword has not, as of this writing, had its official world premiere, it certainly appeared to be a finished piece of work when it spooked audiences at the Light Box. The farcical concept — basically "old metal band reunites to rescue its savant lead guitar player, who has written a guitar riff so darkly perfect it opened a portal to Hell" — didn't for a moment obscure the play's big heart or serious subject matter. This was a play about temptation, loyalty, and friendship, given a fantastically atmospheric production by a ceaselessly inventive theater working at the top of its game. Moving and fun.
Celebrity is a fickle beast. When nude photos of Miami rapper Trina showed up online and were not exactly flattering — think a mysterious pancake-size rash on her arm — her next album suddenly became a "comeback" project. And unlike Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson, and other sexpots who had their most intimate moments revealed to basement masturbators from Topeka to Bombay, you really can't blame Trina for the leak: The photos got away from her after her cell phone was stolen at an awards show. So, no, it's not fair that Trina has to fight to get her career back on track. But when your lyrics are all rote sexual boasts — "Eat me like Hannibal Lecter" — you have no one to blame but yourself when your own fetishization comes to a screeching halt.
Equus is a dangerous play. It's both talky and impassioned, and in clumsy hands can tend toward bombast. But in a sparse, surreal production at New Theatre, Ricky J. Martinez revealed a heretofore unsuspected sensitivity, imbuing the play's labyrinthine lines with complexity and nuance. He was mightily assisted by actors David Hemphill and Samuel Randolph (who receive awards elsewhere in this issue), but you can't thank them for the play's dark, spare aesthetic — the way skeletal horses' heads seemed to float like ghosts through the dark or how even Dr. Dysart's bright office felt haunted. Equus's elements fit together perfectly and composed perhaps Martinez's finest work.
Before a movie plays at the Gusman Theater, Darrell Stuckey lumbers to his balcony box two floors above the stage. He puts on the slippers he keeps there, sits on his wooden bench, and with the push of a button, turns on the wind turbine on the other side of the stage that powers the 85-year-old pipes of the theater's Wurlitzer organ. Stuckey is Gusman's organist, a job he's held since 1984. At 75, he's only a decade younger than the instrument he plays year-round. During this year's Miami International Film Festival — his 17th — he played ten nights in a row. A rare feat anywhere. Few theaters have Wurlitzers anymore, and even fewer use them before the projector is turned on — the organ was popular during the silent movie era, when it provided the sound effects and score to the films. As a volunteer at the Gusman, Stuckey plays at high school graduations and special gatherings, but his favorite gig is the film festival, where he plays the Wurlitzer as it was first meant to be heard. His body is not unlike his instrument: He carries it slowly up the stairs as if the whole thing were being pulled by a complicated system of pulleys and levers, each step creaking louder than the one before. But then he sits at the organ, taps the wheezy keys, and the whole theater shakes, brought back to life by a sound that's spectral and captivating — like the first time Garbo spoke onscreen.
A tie is a terrible thing, but there was simply no way that either of these performances couldn't win. Todd Allen Durkin is a veteran actor who, year after year, blows minds in theaters across Florida. He has won every award known to man, save for a Tony, a Nobel, and a Darwin. And in this spring's Blasted, he turned in a performance that made everything he has ever done before look like amateur hour. As a sociopath journalist/soldier, he was a man seemingly incapable of feeling, but he turned his cold placidity to pain without seeming to try. Later, when he was degraded beyond all measure — when he is lying next to a dead baby in a hole in the floor of a bombed hotel room, newly eyeless and recently raped — he bellowed for redemption, and it was a sound that haunted your car ride home. As the sensitive yet surly — and more than a little deranged — young protagonist of Equus, David Hemphill delivered the year's most surprising and most career-making performance. Nobody had played Alan Strang better. In the play's long and wrenching final scene, Hemphill was more naked on the stage than any actor we've seen — and his lack of clothing was the least of it.
While Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist have battled it out on the right, throwing tea bags, credit card receipts, back wax allegations, and pictures of man hugs at each other, Kendrick Meek has quietly held his head high and pursued the U.S. Senate seat, one he might actually have something of a chance of winning now. Don't get us wrong — Rubio and Crist are both adept politicians (perhaps in a slightly more cynical definition of the word politician), but Meek has balanced his duties in the House and on the campaign trail and still found time to do more than just talk about the Haiti earthquake and BP oil spill. In his fourth term in Congress, Meek has gained a respectable amount of power and influence, sitting on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. When Meek entered the Senate race, he seemed a sacrificial lamb. Crist was supposed to wipe the floor with any Democrat. Now that Crist is running as an Independent, there just might be a chance Meek could win. We know he can do a good job holding office; the only question now is if he's as good at getting elected to do a bigger job.
It's almost impossible to add something new to a role as well trodden as that of Amanda Wingfield, but Angie Radosh did precisely that. As an aging Southern mother, wrenched from both the South of her youth and the gentility to which she was once accustomed, she wore her dignity like a summer dress — one that, unlike her other clothes, never frayed. What Radosh brought to her role was a sense of the titanic strength it takes to inhabit an illusion of wealth and entitlement, to breathe life into such an illusion for the good of one's self and one's children. In other productions, Wingfield tends to come off as a talent; Radosh made her into a hero, albeit an unsung one, who redeems a flawed world by the power of belief alone.
On January 13, Rev. Richard Dunn found himself back in familiar territory: in second place. Dunn, a firebrand community activist and pastor at Faith Community Baptist Church, had lost every election he'd touched since a stint as an appointed city commissioner in 1996. This year, yet again, he lost to incumbent Michelle Spence-Jones, who ran in a special election for her own District 5 seat after Gov. Charlie Crist removed her over a bribery charge. Spence-Jones won that election but lost her second game of chicken with the governor, who suspended her again. For Dunn, second place turned into the golden ticket. The reverend outlasted five other candidates to earn an appointment to fill Spence's troubled seat representing Little Haiti and Overtown, in exchange for a promise to not run again in the next election. Dunn quickly squashed any suspicion he'd come back to the commission as a placeholder. He's been a full-on force since January, fundraising in Lib City, spatting over redevelopment plans, and backing a controversial proposal for earlier nightclub hours. And now, in true-blue politico fashion, he's all but officially reneging on his pledge not to run for the seat again this fall. Welcome back, Rev!
Stupid actors cannot play smart characters, and smart actors cannot play brilliant ones. Dr. Martin Dysart, a shrink and classics scholar, is an almost frighteningly brilliant character, making abstract connections between the ecstatic religious life of classical antiquity and the spiritual inertia of modern Western existence. James Samuel Randolph understood and felt every nuance of every line, and this breathtakingly wordy role became a window into a fascinating and fully articulated mind.
It's early 2009, somewhere on Florida's sun-kissed Gulf Coast, and Charlie Crist stumbles out the attic window at a house party, stares down at the drunken crowd around a pool, and screams, "I am a golden god!" Wait, maybe that's a scene from Almost Famous. Still, that pretty much sums up how Florida's crisply tanned golden boy felt 12 months ago. After winning the '06 gubernatorial election with 54 percent of the vote, the guv played it smartly moderate and watched his statewide approval ratings regularly top an astounding 60 percent. The presidential candidates were all begging for his nod of approval; a VP spot might just be on the table. And then, to keep our Almost Famous metaphor alive, came the world's most turbulent turboprop ride through a rumbling thunderstorm. McCain didn't tap him for VP. Crist's hand-chosen state GOP chairman, Jim Greer, turned out to be a credit-card-abusing fiend. And most important, the Tea Party masses rebelled over his support for Obama's stimulus package. Enter Marco Rubio, a young Cuban-American, former Florida Senate leader. In what seemed like an overnight shift, Crist's 30-point primary lead evaporated. Suddenly, Rubio the wunderkind was on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, speaking on every conservative show, and raking in thousands of dollars. By April, the tables had shockingly turned: It was now Rubio with a 20-plus-point primary lead, looking like a golden god of Florida politics. Now Charlie Crist is out of the Republican primary altogether and running for Senate as an independent. Win or lose, Rubio's rise is already a coup for the ages.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®