Best Actor
Courtesy of Miami New Drama

Set in the garish and raucous world of professional wrestling, Miami New Drama's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is an ethnological fable wrapped in a flashy parable told through the eyes of narrator Macedonio "Mace" Guerra, a lucha libre-masked wrestler portrayed with ardent passion by the magnetic Pierre Jean Gonzalez. Mace is a wrestler's wrestler — a student of the game and a natural heavy who gets relegated to playing the "bad guy" role in every match, partly due to his massive talent for making lesser but more charismatic wrestlers look good in the ring. Gonzalez played Mace with a frenetic energy that could have quickly lost its bearings in a less-talented actor. But Gonzalez walked the fine line between exaggeration and understated ambition. Along the way, the audience witnessed Mace's growth as a character and, in the end, it was Gonzalez's infectious charisma that made crowds root for the bad guy.

Best Actress
Courtesy of GableStage

Does DNA decide not only where we come from, but who and what we're meant to be? That question is the starting point of GableStage's Informed Consent. At the center of the play is a genetic anthropologist named Jillian, played with heart-wrenching intensity by Betsy Graver. In the story, Jillian finds herself in an ethical and personal dilemma: Her mother died at a young age from complications brought on by early-onset Alzheimer's, and Jillian fears not only that the gene has been passed down to her, but that she may have passed it on to her own young daughter. Jillian is so driven to unlock the genetic mystery that could save her and her daughter that she dives into her work without thinking much about its moral consequences, and how it might affect an entire indigenous tribe living in Arizona. Based on a true story, Informed Consent is a complex drama fraught with existential crisis, and Graver was at the center of that hurricane, playing Jillian with a subtle brilliance that echoed a mother's deepest anguish while struggling to preserve her moral dignity.

Best Musical
Photo by Matthew Murphy

The Color Purple is a heartbreaking period piece based on a harrowing novel about the hardships African-American women faced in the early 20th Century. Audiences know it best from the 1985 film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Oprah Winfrey, but modern audiences have witnessed Alice Walker's poignant journey through a Tony Award-winning musical, which came to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in February. With a stripped-down set and minimalist lighting, the production made way for its talented cast and accompanying music themes including gospel, jazz, blues, and ragtime. It should be a nearly impossible feat to put music and dance to a gut-wrenching story like The Color Purple, but this cast pulled it off in what was truly a work of musical theater alchemy. And yet, that is the indomitable spirit of the African-American plight: suffering overcome through song. The Color Purple musical nailed it.

Best Drag Queen
Photo by Honest Henry
Even in the world of drag, there can be pressure to conform to a certain visual standard. Miss Toto — a drag goddess by night, competitive bodybuilder by day, and marine researcher to boot — says screw all that. Miss Toto, born William Evans, towers over her subjects at drag events such as A Statute of Gender-Nonconforming Liberty. Her shoulders are huge, her biceps are thick, and if you so much as mouth off at one of the bingo nights she hosts at Gramps, Miss Toto could squish your skull like a ripe melon. But at the same time, she brings a presence, grace, and femininity to her drag performances. Sure, she looks like she could throw a javelin the length of an entire football field, but who’s to say a person that strong can’t be feminine too? But perhaps most important, the thing you realize when you see Miss Toto in action is how much darn work she puts into looking the way she does. Do you know how many hours it takes to contour your pecs and your cheekbones?

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®