The Awarehouse
On this night, you decide you're tired of the bright gallery lights, the soulless corridors of corporate event spaces, and the stale cigarette-scented couches of megaclubs. You go in search of the rabbit hole — a place where art freaks can wander aimlessly through a maze of exhibits, indie-electro fans can bang heads to the beat all night long in a warehouse garage, and New York City transplants can collapse on beanbags in a 10,000-square-foot garden to watch video projections like they're at a Central Park concert. You drink the magic potion and realize that Wonderland is really Wynwood and that the Mad Hatter tea party could take place only at Awarehouse. You quickly make friends with past partiers: electronic-norteño accordion players from Tijuana's Nortec Collective, funk-heavy hip-hoppers from N.E.R.D., American Apparel enthusiasts freaking over a rummage sale, and a plethora of experimental painters and photographers who love to watch disco lights roam over their canvases. Eventually you'll pine for the real world once again. But tonight you'll happily settle for life through the looking glass.
Two of Miami's finest art stars, Jen Stark and Alvaro Ilizarbe, both listed as Miami New Times' 100 Creatives, aren't just a couple of the most talented folks in town. They're also delightfully pleasant party guests. What makes someone a great shindig attendee? Let's look at the qualifications through Jen and Alvaro: (1) Sometimes when people are good, they think they're too good for other people. This is never the case with these two. They're never grouchy and always stop to say hello. (2) They always seem like they're enjoying themselves. There's never a moment when one is weeping in the corner while the other is punching someone in the head. (3) They're the first ones dancing. This is Miami, and you better get on the floor and move when you're tardy to the party. (4) At theme parties, Jen and Alvaro always dress to impress. One Halloween they arrived as dead surfers, complete with detailed makeup of exposed intestines. A sense of humor and a sense of fun — this pair will always bring these essential elements to your big bash.
Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre
Photo by Diego Pocovi
At just more than three hours long, Tracy Letts's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning August: Osage County is ferocious playwriting at its best. Elaborate and epic in its operatic scope, the emotionally charged and darkly funny play puts family psychodrama center stage. As a result, the unflinching view of a dysfunctional family forced to deal with some thorny baggage packs a palpable punch. It boasted an outstanding cast and a mercurial performance by Annette Miller, who portrayed family matriarch Violet. Comedy and tragedy are present here in all of their forms, and Letts's characters are both complex and provocative. Actors' Playhouse pulled it off flawlessly. It's the kind of play that breathes new life into the Miami theater scene.
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Alliance Theatre Lab has quietly garnered a reputation for showcasing rising local talent — not only actors but also playwrights. In a hilarious, irreverent, and sentimental look at family, friendship, and the abandoned challenges of growing up, Brothers Beckett furthered that trend. Written and starring New World School of the Arts graduate and Alliance Lab Theatre alumnus David Sirois, Brothers Beckett laced sharp banter with the dark and sardonic humor that recalls classic sitcoms such as Seinfeld and The Odd Couple. Kevin and Brad Beckett are brothers, roommates, and best pals. But when Yale grad Kevin decides to propose to his longtime, long-distance girlfriend, jobless slacker Brad's world gets turned upside down. Just before Kevin's girl arrives for a weeklong visit, Brad does everything possible to prevent his brother from moving out of their bachelor pad and upsetting the order of things. It's a simple plot with a familiar outcome, but the blend of wit and heart shows us a glimpse of a bright future for Sirois and Alliance Theatre.
Florida Grand Opera
As with the best operas, The Tales of Hoffman, a 19th-century three-act work by German-born French composer Jacques Offenbach, is a stirring story that involves forbidden love, ominous symbolism, and tragic, untimely deaths. But unlike other operas, it also features enchanted mirrors, trippy magic goggles, and animatronic sex dolls. Based on the short stories of German fantasy and horror author E.T.A. Hoffman, with a French libretto by Jules Barbier, The Tales of Hoffman follows the poet's drunken odyssey of love. True to its creatively ambitious ways, Florida Grand Opera delivered a fast-paced epic production exceptionally conducted by Lucy Arner and featuring stirring performances by tenor David Pomeroy and soprano Elizabeth Futral. A fantasy opera such as The Tales of Hoffman can easily stall and languish under its own weight, but FGO produced a well-crafted spectacle that effectively captured the opera's grand scale and convoluted plot.
GableStage at the Biltmore has had its share of critically acclaimed and controversial plays — some comical, others surreal. But GableStage really shines when it comes to theatrical drama. Its small and intimate setting is perfect for productions such as last year's provocative Fifty Words and this year's moving A Round-Heeled Woman. Because the auditorium is packed tightly against the stage, the audience is right on top of the actors, lending a unique perspective. And the intimate space nurtures a more honest performance than the exaggerated belt-it-to-the-last-row screaming required in larger theaters. But the company's choice of plays, such as the politically driven Farragut North and the controversial Blasted, is what makes GableStage such a rich place to catch varied, diverse, and engaging dramas.
Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre
Photo by Diego Pocovi
Gary Marachek is a whole actor. He acts with his voice, his shoulders, his extraordinarily malleable face, and his quick fingers and feet. He acts so completely and with such acute physical instincts that his whole body seems to change shape from role to role. In 2007's La Cage aux Folles, he appeared rotund and with shortened arms, resembling a flamboyant tyrannosaur. As Fagin in Oliver!, Marachek became spindly — the miserly thief-master's nervous, calculating intelligence reflected in the tiny manipulations of his suddenly elongated fingers and in the softness of his fast, mincing steps. His grin, usually warm, stretched across blackened teeth to become ghastly and sepulchral, and his careworn face was twisted into a representation of long-frayed nerves — a sign of anxiety that has for so long overtaxed his adrenal glands that there is no longer a difference between giddiness and fear. Marachek did all of this while dancing and singing, and night after night he delivered perhaps the greatest version of "Considering the Situation," alternating between three or four distinct character voices to reflect the mercurial mental states of his poor, confused character.
Sharon Gless is best known as Cagney in the '80s cop procedural Cagney & Lacey and to modern TV audiences as the neurotic, chain-smoking mom in Burn Notice. But Gless made her mark on the South Florida theater scene as Jane, the semiretired 66-year-old divorced schoolteacher looking for some nooky in GableStage's provocative and humorous production of A Round-Heeled Woman. As the sexually repressed but always amiable Jane, Gless owned the stage via a humorous and earnest performance that had audiences laughing and suffering with her. Employing an even mixture of emotion and vulnerability, she was equal parts innocent and sexual adventurer, and her genuine openness and underlying heartache pulled viewers in while Jane's coital odyssey unfolded. In a 90-minute play sans intermission, Gless grabbed hold of her uninhibited character and put on an exceptional performance that conveyed Jane's repressed angst, struggles, and irrepressible hope.
Sure, the Dolphins don't have a viable franchise quarterback. They don't have a field-spreading deep threat. And they don't have a very competent coaching staff. But they do have a skull-crushing, quarterback-mauling sack machine in linebacker Cameron Wake. He was drafted by the New York Giants out of Penn State in 2005 but failed to make the roster. He then went to the Canadian Football League, where he led the league in sacks for two consecutive seasons. That's when the NFL took notice, and in 2009 he signed a four-year deal with Miami. During his two seasons with the Dolphins, Wake has amassed 19.5 sacks, 14 of them coming in his first full season last year, and has quickly garnered a reputation around the NFL as one of the most feared pass rushers. Wake will be releasing the kraken all over NFL offenses for the Dolphins for years to come.
Sharon Gless's outstanding turn as Jane in A Round-Heeled Woman was made all the better by a terrific cast that portrayed multiple characters. Antonio Amadeo in particular stood out with a versatile performance in which he brought humor, tragedy, emotion, and sympathy. He was slick, sexy, and hilarious as a dance teacher. He was obtuse and romantic as the imagined literary character John Ball come to life. And he was charming and hopelessly smitten as the amiable Graham. But his portrayal as Jane's troubled son Andy really had Amadeo digging deep into a turbulent bag of emotion and intensity. Playing such varied and wide-ranging roles in one performance could lead an actor to lose his way or to simply mail it in, but Amadeo nailed it. His characters ran the gamut of outrageous to tragic, and the actor pulled it off brilliantly.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®