Best Set Design 2015 | Peter and the Starcatcher | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Justin Namon

The script of Peter and the Starcatcher — the high-seas coming-of-age prequel to Peter Pan — left much to be desired. But the Arsht Center's production was as inventive as the story was overplotted, conceiving an imaginative land of danger and wonder. Its witty lighting and transportive sound design had a lot to do with the play's atmospheric vision, but at the center of it all stood the mammoth set by Yoshinori Tanokura, which actor Nicholas Richberg compared to "a big jungle gym playground." With its twin balconies and elevated breezeway, its many ropes and stepladders and nautical props, Tanokura's vision for the deck of a rickety cargo ship was infused with an architect's visionary quirks as well as a mariner's splendor. More important, it was as functional as it was ruggedly attractive, because it required the actors to scamper around it at all times. The Arsht was the first regional theater in the nation to produce Peter and the Starcatcher, and future companies would be wise to follow Tanokura's example.

Karli Evans

If you ever skip services for drag brunch at the Palace on Sundays, Tiffany Taylor Fantasia will still take you to church. A mainstay of the South Beach drag scene and a Miami native, Fantasia is old-school drag entertainment at its finest. Whether she's serving disco diva, glamor doll, or gospel granny, she's sure to give it her all. We once saw her kick her shoe off in the middle of a performance, and it never came back down (it wound up on the restaurant's awning). Legend has it she once threw her wig off during a performance, and it wound up being snatched by a passing car that never stopped. Whenever she gives a performance — whether on the main stage at Miami Beach Pride, during charity events, at a pageant, or at her regular stomping grounds off Ocean Drive — she never holds back. Catch her every week during her hosting gig at the Palace Wednesday and Saturday night.

Orlando Leyba is the voice of the Miami Everyman, and anyone who knows an Everyman in Miami should already know that's a pretty solid bedrock for a comedy act. A married man who until recently was stuck in a dead-end 9-to-5, Leyba took his stories of domestic quibbles, office blues, and general life in South Florida to the stage, with hilarious results. In fact, he's now taken his act across the country and is a regular opening act for comedian Michael Yo. "Hey, Lando, we're trying to make this quota, and I'm going to need you to give me 110 percent this week," Leyba often says onstage while mimicking his old boss. "Relax, buddy — I wasted 50 percent talking myself into just coming here," he quips. Luckily for audiences, it never seems like Leyba has to talk himself into getting onstage, where he always gives 110 percent.

In the heart of Little Havana, amid the art galleries and the cigar rollers, is a quiet dance studio that's been teaching some of Miami's finest bailarines for more than a decade. Brigid Baker created the 6th Street Dance Studio as a space where dancers and artists can break down the usual barriers of traditional contemporary dance. The enormous studio, with its luminous floor-to-ceiling windows, is inspiration enough to take a class. And Baker, a New York transplant who has studied under the likes of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham, is truly a jack-of-all-trades: She even created a style she calls "lightbody," a fusion of ballet with quantum physics and holistic perspectives. Whether you're a serious dancer or simply interested in moving your body in new ways, lightbody classes force you out of your shell and into an exploratory realm of motion. The studio also offers contemporary ballet and urban dance classes and on occasion hosts guest artists.

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival has been a part of Grove culture for 52 years. Fifty-two. CGAF, as it is charmingly called, is beloved by Coconut Grove residents and tourists alike. The festival takes place every year in February, when it spills over McFarlane Road, South Bayshore Drive, and Pan American Drive. Bringing together all aspects of the arts — music, literature, artwork, handmade crafts, and even food — CGAF is designed to entertain all ages. And this past year, New Times organized the fest's music showcase, which, well, rocked. (We know, modesty is one of New Times' strong suits.) The dates for CGAF 2016 have already been announced: February 13, 14, and 15. Where else can you get so much entertainment for so little ($15 per day)?

Readers' choice: Art Basel Miami Beach

Best Reason to Stay in Miami for the Summer

Miami Spice

Miami summers are pretty disgusting. Walk outside from June to September and you instantly feel like some invisible giant dumped a damp, warm mop on your head. No amount of showering can rid you of the feeling that you're a sweaty, stinky mess. Then there's the constant threat of a killer hurricane that never comes — the tropical version of the Cold War. Miami turns into a no man's land, with only mad dogs and tourists going out in the scorching midday sun. There's only one thing to do: Seek shelter inside one of the Magic City's air-conditioned restaurants. Luckily, Miami Spice, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau's way of preventing a mass exodus to cooler destinations like Asheville (or Anchorage), is implemented, much like an emergency nonevacuation system. The program, which runs from August 1 through September 30, allows you to chow down on three-course lunches for $23 and dinners for $39 at some of Miami's schmanciest restaurants, such as Hakkasan, Azul, and the Cypress Room. These are places that cost hundreds of dollars for dinner any other time of the year, but you, a savvy yet broke gourmand, get to enjoy these top critics' picks for pennies on the dollar. Coupled with the fact that some of these restaurants are booked solid in season, this is one helluva deal. Wonder how you'll get through July? Just peruse the menus of the restaurants where you want to dine — in the comfort of your refrigerator.

"Irregardless," Aimee Carrero drawls, her head and torso wrapped in towels, her wrists covered in gaudy bracelets, her long nails lacquered, "I don't care." No sketch better encapsulates the stereotypical Miami girl. The proof is in the more than 2 million views Carrero and her crew earned for the equally brilliant video surrounding that sublime moment — the viral hit "Shit Miami Girls Say." That clip may have been most South Floridians' introduction to Carrero, a 26-year-old Dominican-born, Miami-raised actress, but she's spent the past two years proving that her chops go way beyond perfecting a Dade County accent. Carrero broke into the biz with guest spots on shows such as The Mentalist and Hannah Montana before turning heads with a four-episode run on arguably the best drama on TV these days, The Americans. Now she's poised to blow up. While doing a regular gig on ABC Family's Young & Hungry, she'll star alongside Vin Diesel in a popcorn-time, big-screen thriller later this summer, The Last Witch Hunter. And in 2016, she'll break barriers as the voice of Disney's first Hispanic princess on the TV show Elena of Avalor. You may not have joined the cult of Carrero yet, but it's basically inevitable.

Rapper Iggy Azalea may be Australian by birth, but when she moved to the States at the age of 16, she lived in Miami first. The Magic City influenced her Southern hip-hop sound, and ever since she rapped the lyrics "No money, no family. Sixteen in the middle of Miami," we've been claiming her as a local. Iggy made it big in 2014 when The New Classic climbed to the top of the charts. The album produced five hit singles and garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album, but the rapper has been a lightening rod of controversy. In a single year, Iggy has had beefs with Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, and Madd Mary. Then there was the time when rapper Azealia Banks, herself no stranger to controversy, accused Iggy of appropriating black culture, a criticism that many music critics had already leveled at the white rapper's faux-accent and persistent unwillingness to acknowledge that rap was built on the experiences of impoverished minorities. But Iggy dug in her heels and insisted she's "the realest." If one thing got Azalea angry this year, it wasn't other rappers calling her out; it was Papa John's. On the heels of losing the Grammy, Iggy took to Twitter to blast the pizza chain for its business ethics and lack of respect for customers' personal information. Not long after, Iggy quit Twitter (but eventually returned). Despite her bumpy year, Iggy continues to churn out hits. That's because she's the "realest."

Usain Bolt better not look back — Jamal Walton is gaining on him. Walton, a 16-year-old who runs for the track club Miami Gardens Xpress, has broken Bolt's records in the 400-meter dash. A student at Saint Thomas Aquinas High, Walton is from the Cayman Islands and has already competed both nationally and internationally. He ran about 47 seconds to best Bolt's under-16 record at the CAC World Youth Championships in Mexico and the Jamaican champ's under-17 mark with a similar time at the CARIFTA Games. "He floats," says Xpress coach Darius Lawshea.

This Miami Dolphins linebacker may yet save his career. But after a third NFL substance-abuse violation, the University of Oregon grad was banned for the entire 2015 season. The Fins chose him third overall in 2013 and handed over to the Raiders the 12th and 42nd picks. What have the Dolphins gotten for it? Forty-six tackles, three sacks, and one start in two seasons.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®