David Arisco was the driving force behind Murder Ballad, a killer off-Broadway musical at Actors' Playhouse, and that alone is enough to earn him this award. He doubled as the show's immaculate choreographer, placing people in carnal couplings and tragic duels atop bars and pool tables and even among the audience itself. His vision captured both the excitement and melancholy of the source material, and it set a new benchmark for immersive South Florida theater. His successful track record as a virtuoso director of musicals carried over to other Actors' Playhouse shows this season as well: His outsize vision brought the Zeitgeist-capturing period musical Ragtime to vivid life, juggling a cast of more than 40 professional actors in the company's largest undertaking ever. Nothing was lost in translation except for a portion of the song lyrics — victims of a sound grid in disrepair. Arisco promptly fixed this issue with a digital soundboard for his next effort, First Date, a mediocre if relatable musical about the awkward pairing of two young singles. His immaculate direction emphasized the humor and humanity of the words and lyrics, polishing an average stone into something like a diamond.