Best Play 2012 | Red, by John Logan | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Photo by Magnus Stark

Carried by Gregg Weiner's forceful performance and Joseph Adler's tight direction, GableStage's Red was a strongly acted and dense portrait of a complex, flawed, and opinionated man. The venerable one-act drama about the brilliant Russian-born American painter Mark Rothko (played by Weiner) hurled symbolism, existentialism, and Friedrich Nietzsche all up in the audience's face like an abstract expressionist dousing a canvas with paint. At its core, the play is a series of snapshots of the artist's mind through visceral moments where he admonishes his young assistant Ken (played by Ryan Didato) while also feigning indifference and bitching about everything that's wrong with world culture. Weiner's blistering performance revealed the artist as a complicated, narcissistic soul who was deeply influenced by Nietzscheism and who viewed himself as a fading giant in a postmodern world. Adler's masterful direction made an otherwise incomprehensible genius accessible and human. Held together by an absorbing classical soundtrack, set designer Lyle Baskin's stripped-down lighting, and the two actors who delivered playwright John Logan's heavily intellectualized prose with adept skill, Red was everything a profound and engaging drama should be.

Mad Cat Theatre's Paul Tei wanted to explore the impact the Internet has on our lives. His aim was to reveal how communication has been stifled. And with his play So My Grandmother Died, Blah Blah Blah, he channeled our very real struggles with pain, loss, family, love, and resolve through his protagonist Polly's whirling mind's eye. Tei's brilliantly twisted play was an amalgam of witty comedy, textually dense psychodrama, trippy-ass quests of intellectual expression, philosophical meanderings, and comedic kitsch, with some existentialism thrown in for good measure. Melissa Almaguer played Polly, a struggling comedy writer who flew to Hollywood, Florida, from Hollywood, California, to attend her grandmother's funeral and write the eulogy. As she opened her laptop to begin writing, the audience became Alice in Polly's Wonderland of imagination. Her subconscious, made up of four zany "deconstructionists," was the audience's guide on a quest involving lost love, Wikipedia entries, and emotional baggage. It was a furious, frenzied production where we were plunged into the mind of a writer while she trudged through personal issues, relationships with family members, and a challenging career, all while trying to kick a stubborn case of writer's block as she penned a eulogy for her dead grandmother. Writer/director Tei understands that theater doesn't resonate like it should without a nuanced script, fascinating characters, a daring and original story, and just the right amount of crazy. So My Grandmother Died, Blah Blah Blah delivered on all counts.

Photo by Magnus Stark

GableStage's The Brothers Size, a play about three men dealing with their past and struggling to grasp their future, featured extraordinary performances by its three stars. But it was the textured, nuanced performance from Teo Castellanos as the enigmatic Elegba that imbued the production with understated power. Castellanos's portrayal was a surreptitious and seductive one. Moving languidly across the stripped-down, darkened stage with cat-like stealth, the actor brought a tortured yet furtive anguish to a complex and haunted character. With a perfect blend of charisma, vulnerability, and honesty, Castellanos made Elegba a sympathetic and tragic figure, taking the play's shady protagonist and making him wholly likable. In an all-around masterful showing from an actor who knows how to play in the shadows, Castellanos proved once again he is South Florida's premier actor's actor.

Miami may be a tropical paradise, but life in the 305 is still life. You still waste days in line at the dreary DMV, argue with your significant other, get the flu, trap yourself in a cubicle, and eat frozen meals at your desk. But sometimes — on a Tuesday morning when you're stuffing processed muffins down your throat while speeding to work, for instance — you look out the window and think, Holy shit. Where do I live? Westbound on the Julia Tuttle Causeway, connecting I-195 to Miami Beach, the skyline opens up in all its coke-snorting, '80s-era glory. Biscayne Bay shimmers and ripples with speedboats and Jet Skis. To the left of the high-rises, cruise ships churn away from the Port of Miami. Palm trees lining the causeway are adorned with neon halos. The sky is pristine and cloudless or, conversely, before a downpour, a dramatic bruised gray. You can almost hear the synth of the Miami Vice theme song. You still have to make that presentation to your boss today. You still have to slice through the plastic on your mac 'n' cheese before placing it in your workplace's splattered microwave. But knowing you have this drive to look forward to — that this is your commute — makes you feel like the benefactor of incredible cosmic luck. And the fact that the City of Miami once forced sex offenders to live under this very bridge? That somehow just makes your good fortune seem even more miraculous.

In 2004, before he was an Emmy-winning TV producer, DJ Drastic X was one of the first nonpirate radio FM DJs to play Rick Ross tracks. He did it on his It's All Gravy Show on Radiate FM, and the Boss has never forgotten it. The history of this student-run station, affiliated with Florida International University, is marked by a commitment to free-form broadcasting, playing local and independent artists, and representing the diverse musical communities that make up this great area. But whereas Radiate long had a weak signal that restricted its reach to South Dade, the station's recent investment in radio translator technology has amplified its broadcast range so that it reaches most of the county. The station broadcasts on three frequencies: 88.1 in Homestead, 95.3 in Miami, and 96.9 in North Miami. It also streams worldwide on the Web. So whether you're looking for dubstep (Batcave Sessions with Ryan Bats), brutal riffs (Metal Show with Cyrus the Virus), house/electronic (Ravin' and Misbehavin' After Dark with Risto, simulcast live from Korea), riot grrl and queercore (Toxic Shock with Kat Merkin), shoegaze/noise rock (Wall of Sound with Torgo and DJ Count Goldblum), disco (Supernature with Mamey Disco), Latin, African jazz and funk, synthpop, or sports talk, Radiate FM has it. And now, you do too.

Any time a debate about Miami's local music scene occurs, it ends up one big blame game. Promoters don't want to pay. Venues only care about DJs. Bands expect too much. Stop it already! If the Magic City is going to be an indie music mecca, everyone has to work together. That's why Lauren Perlstein is the perfect champion for the cause. Instead of getting mixed up in arguments that go nowhere, she supports the scene the best way she knows how: by writing about it. She and her army of contributors make up the local music blog South Florida Music Obsessed, where she writes plenty about visiting national acts but also shows local outfits lots of love. Talking with her, you can clearly see she is not only passionate about music around South Florida but also knowledgeable. Perlstein is expanding her reach beyond writing. With her Music Obsessed brand in tow, she has begun staging events around town with local music on the bill.

Most music blogs are fine with just throwing up a SoundCloud link, writing a couple of sentences, and calling it a day — but then again, they aren't Miami's Nightdrive. At this corner of the Internet, their job as music masters is taken a bit more seriously. "Down here we find ourselves partaking in a collective redesign of Miami's cultural landscape," they state on their "About Us" link. "Regardless how we got here, we [have become] part of a city that is now struggling to figure out where it's going, how it's going to get there, and what it's going to become." Nightdrive is headed by Laura (of Miami) and Patrick Walsh. There are others too: Terence Tabeau, Steve "Stevezy" Saiz, and their roster of DJs. They also like to feature guest posts from community tastemakers. Nightdrive works hard to bring readers the hottest in up-and-coming artists from many genres, as well as exclusive interviews with rising stars and details about local events. Hell, they even bring music to town, such as the May 24 show with Nightdrive favorite Todd Terje at the Electric Pickle. As Laura put it, the show was "a perfect example of how all the Nightdrive elements work together."

This is not a record label in the traditional sense. It doesn't produce and distribute records. But Maybach Music Group is the umbrella group overseeing all Rick Ross-involved projects, from the rapper's own albums and mixtapes to those of local supergroup Triple Cs (Gunplay, Torch, Young Breed, and Ross himself). It also reps the rapidly expanding roster of rappers — Philly's Meek Mill, D.C.'s Wale, NYC's York's French Montana — that Ross has pulled into his orbit in the past three years. Most recently, the imprint announced the signing of R&B singer Omarion at a high-profile news conference at Manhattan's Eventi Hotel. It also revealed a blockbuster slate of album-release dates, including this summer's two most anticipated rap albums, Ross's God Forgives, I Don't and Mill's debut LP, Dreams and Nightmares. MMG releases music through not one but two major record labels: Island Def Jam and Warner Bros. This all but ensures that whatever the fate of the declining music industry, Miami will most likely remain a hip-hop power center for years to come.

If your girlfriend, parents, or neighbors think your music sucks and they don't ever want to hear one more note of it, it's time to find your band a practice space. You know, a place where you can turn your amp to 11 and rock out at 3 in the morning without some whiny, soulless bastard crying about the noise. But unless your dad owns a warehouse in an industrial part of Hialeah, you probably don't have that opportunity. Well, now you do. Destroyio House is a roughly 1,000-square-foot air-conditioned warehouse space with tube amps, vocal mikes, a PA, drum gear, industrial fans, and an ice-cold minifridge where punk-rock impresario Fabio Destroyio rents out space for bands to practice music. For just $25 for two hours and $10 each hour after that, you can play any type of music you want, as loud as you want, whenever you want, for as long as you want. That means four people can jam for four hours and pay just about $11 each. When your band is ready, he'll book you a show at Churchill's, and you can use the door money to book more time to practice. You'll find a like-minded community of musicians there already, so you can make new friends, and when your bandmates become whiny, soulless bastards, you can join another group.

Photo courtesy of Fox's Lounge

Since 1946, Fox's Sherron Inn has been serving South Miami with shots, suds, steaks, good times, and jukebox music. But like cigarette vending machines and pay-as-you-go porno peep shows, the classic juke — a partially automated, coin-operated, 400-pound music-playing device with a library of only about 200 songs — is an anachronistic and impractical piece of technology that's slowly but surely disappearing from the American cultural landscape. Our nation's bars, diners, pizza joints, laundromats, and soda-pop shops are getting rid of their jukeboxes at an epidemic rate. And the replacements are satellite radio, iPods on shuffle, and touch-screen MP3 selectors that look like knockoff ATMs from some defunct factory in Taiwan. But thankfully, the Sherron Inn hasn't given up on its enormous, old, occasionally broken music machine. So fill your pockets with loose change, feed Fox's box a few quarters, and pick 119, 142, and 206.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®