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.
The New Century is a tough play. Its challenge lies in taking extremely improbable characters and locating within them a common humanity. Patti Gardner's character, Helene Nadler, is puzzling over the fact that her three children have become gay. But not just gay — they are peerlessly queer. The eldest is a garden-variety lesbian, the middle child is an M-to-F transwoman and a lesbian, and the youngest, a boy, is an S&M submissive obsessed with scat. Nadler prides herself on her complete, open-minded acceptance, and boldly, loudly declaims her love for her kids all over the place — but pulsing just underneath that confident façade is a deep mourning of the ordinary family life she had imagined for herself in girlhood. It was a delicate balancing act, and Gardner nailed it like few could.
For more than 30 years, Liberty City pastor George McRae has toiled with an unpopular specialization: Caring for those living with HIV/AIDS. When he first became pastor of Mount Tabor Baptist Church on NW 66 Street in 1989, AIDS held such a strong stigma that its victims were shunned by many priests and pastors. But Palatka native McRae, who from his first day was out on the streets trying to clean up Liberty City's most drug-infested corners, has never been afraid to bring anybody into his flock. His church has become a haven for those who might be denied refuge anywhere else, where those inflicted with HIV/AIDS are given hot food, counseling, sermons, and as much of Reverend McRae's time as they want.
Miami Theater Center
At first, we thought Broadsword's cast was too muted. What with Paul Tei, Scott Genn, Greg Weiner, and Erik Fabregat, the play should have been louder than life, as loud as the play's dark, metallic final song (for which several of the actors had to learn to play instruments). Later their sobriety came to seem entirely appropriate. As a band of aging, might-have-been rock stars from a working-class New Jersey town, these were men whom life had nearly beaten. Their shared tiredness communicated almost everything we needed to know about their shared history. Sofia Citarella, as the band's former biggest fan, and Weiner, as an impresario with a not entirely trustworthy smile, are the only ones who give off a whiff of life. Together they hint at the joy and the danger the rockers must have felt in their music, back when they still knew how to make it.
At age 33, Aaron "the Downtown Don" Bondaroff can't be called a hip kid anymore. He's just a little too old for that tag. These days, Bondaroff is more a man about town. Two towns, actually. A half-Jewish, half-Puerto Rican high school dropout, Bondaroff initially made his mark during New York City's mid-'90s Alleged Gallery boom. But unlike other scene stars such as Harmony Korine and Ryan McGinley, the Don didn't actually make art. He was just the most downtown dude around — a last-minute party promoter, a self-taught curator of the coolest shit, a BFF to everyone who mattered. And Bondaroff eventually turned this niche celeb status into a career with his store-slash-gallery-slash-hipster-clubhouse aNYthing. Now, after a decade-plus hyping, repping, and shaping the Lower East Side scene, the Don (with help from local business partner Al Moran) brought his brand of NYC raditude to Miami — first via killer west-of-Wynwood art space O.H.W.O.W. and then through Bar, a sort of resurrected PS14 with superpowers. Over the past year and a half, the Don's imported famous friends have included Korine, NeckFace, the Ed Banger crew, Todd Jones, and David Lynch, while he still has tons of Miami buds such as Freegums, Psychic Youth Inc., and Roofless Rex. You know, a downtown dude can never have enough BFFs.
Basically, a classy hotel room is demolished by a mortar blast in about five seconds, and the smoking wreck continues to crumble throughout the remainder of the play. The skies open up and rain pours through what used to be the ceiling, squarely onto the face of actor Todd Allen Durkin, who's half-hiding in a hole in the floor. It didn't just look like the approximation of a ruin; Tim Connelly's set seemed to be a ruin, and the darkening sky beyond seemed to be the sky. Then, in a matter of seconds, the whole thing was reassembled and the set became a hotel room once more.
For a dozen years, Sarah Nesbitt Artecona crafted the messages that Miami-Dade commissioners wanted to convey to the public. As director of the county's communications department, Artecona was their voice. But one too many tongue lashings by the likes of former commissioner Miriam Alonso, and she sought greener (and orange) pastures at the University of Miami as the school's communications division associate vice president. In 2007, she was promoted to assistant vice president to UM chief financial officer Joe Natoli. During her seven years at UM, Artecona has found time to serve on various civic groups, including the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, Goodwill of South Florida, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Given the dedication Artecona shows the Magic City, we'll forgive her allegiance to her alma mater, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.
We believe theater comes best in small packages, and the Naked Stage's space is so tiny that the folks in the back row are closer to the actors than the people in the front row at the Arsht Center. Such intimacy allows the artists to utterly transform a space, to make the audience feel as though they inhabit an extension of the imaginary world constructed upon the stage. There was no more immersive theatrical experience in Miami last year than the Naked Stage's Macon City: A Comic Book Play. We were in Macon's ruins, and we could almost smell the toxic ooze sluicing through its overburdened gutters. The Naked Stage has managed this trick show after show. Now if only they would do more. Macon City was their only show in 2009, and for 11 months of the year, we missed them terribly.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®