Best Of People & Places

  • Best Urban Legend

    Phoenix Has No Culture

    There's an old joke: What's the difference between Phoenix and yogurt? Yogurt has culture. No more, friends. No more. Old is the operative word here, because in the past decade this city has turned a well-earned reputation on its ear. Don't believe us? Flip through the pages of this year's...

  • Best Selfie

    Daniel Funkhouser's Artselfie

    With his temporary installation piece Familiar Glass with Theatrical Spectacle with Transparent Illusion and Artselfie, Phoenix artist Daniel Funkhouser not only engaged the work's viewers, he created something of an Instagram sensation. As part of the spring 2014 ARTELPHX event, Funkhouser created a piece that, when looked at with 3D...

  • Best Scavenger Hunt

    James B. Hunt's "Art Hide"

    Artist James B. Hunt is the best kind of disrupter. In addition to his hilarious, satirical music and culture reporting for www.tempeart.com — which has earned the ire of some local music press and confused local musicians — Hunt made national headlines this year by hiding art throughout Tempe and...

  • Best Arts Festival

    ARTELPHX

    Considering its billing as the world's largest independent hotel art installation, we weren't sure at first what to make of ARTELPHX. But after attending the recurring event, which places both fine artwork and performance pieces throughout The Clarendon Hotel in the spring and fall, we have to say it's become...

  • Best Craft Festival

    Crafeteria

    When it comes to handcrafting our own creative knickknacks, most of us are in DIY denial. Fortunately, there's one night of the year when Martha Stewart wannabes and Pinterest pariahs can holster their sad glue guns and hand themselves over to the professionals. In the midst of the holiday season,...

  • Best Dance Festival

    CONDER/dance's "Breaking Ground" at Tempe Center for the Arts

    At first, it seemed the name of CONDER/dance's yearly contemporary dance festival was a little presumptuous, but groundbreaking actually is a good description of the impressive choreography we saw in this year's celebration. Breaking Ground was started in 2007 to showcase new choreographers from around the world, but these days...

  • Best Film Festival

    Phoenix Film Festival

    Technicolor us impressed. In its 14th year, the Phoenix Film Festival brought to Harkins Scottsdale 101 nearly 200 films from emerging and established filmmakers. Over the course of a week, world-class (and critically acclaimed) flicks including Gillian Robespierre's abortion rom-com Obvious Child, Clark Gregg's Trust Me, and Steven Knight's Tom...

  • Best Music Festival

    Viva PHX

    Presented by New Times and Stateside Presents, Viva PHX felt like the downtown we've always imagined, with big names like Pinback, the Neighbourhood, Yacht, Z-Trip, and Arizona acts like Sergio Mendoza y La Orkesta, Dry River Yacht Club, Playboy Manbaby, Cherie Cherie, and more playing at downtown venues such as...

  • Best Place to Learn to Tell Tales

    South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute

    Long before standing onstage and telling stories became the next big thing, South Mountain Community College was making a name for itself in the ancient art of storytelling. Storytelling is more complex than simply memorizing a script; no two performances are the same, and the tradition is steeped in the...

  • Best Culinary Festival

    Devoured Food + Wine Classic

    It seems every time we turn around, there's a new food festival going down around town. At some point, they all start to blend together into a sea of tiny plates, wine samples, and chef demonstrations. And inevitably, by the end of the festival season, the one that stands out...

  • Best Beer Festival

    Real, Wild, and Woody

    You didn't have to be a beer fanatic to enjoy this year's inaugural Real, Wild, and Woody Beer Festival — but if you are, you'll have no trouble understanding what made it a knockout success. Organized by the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, this event gathered all the state's top breweries...

  • Best Cocktail Event

    Arizona Cocktail Week

    Culinary events tend to fall into one of two categories. There are fun events that center on enjoying great food and drink and educational events from which you walk away with a new understanding about a food-related topic. Arizona Cocktail Week is the first event we've been to that does...

  • Best Mural Event

    Paint PHX

    We're all for adding color to Phoenix's largely beige landscape. Turns out, so is street artist Thomas "Breeze" Marcus. Breeze gathered similarly minded muralists to spend a weekend adding art to walls around Phoenix. In March, local and out-of-state creatives teamed up with businesses along Grand Avenue, Roosevelt Row, and...

  • Best Gaming Event

    ZapCon

    For pinball and vintage arcade fiends, ZapCon is a little like Christmas. Except better. Why? Well, for starters, it's a weekend-long convention dedicated to throwback gaming. For the second year in a row, ZapCon rounded up long-lost titles and covetable consoles for a weekend of button-mashing and joystick-wielding. With a...

  • Best Casino

    Talking Stick Resort

    Talk is cheap. But Talking Stick? Well that all depends on your relationship with lady luck. Located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation, this high-end hotel and casino is always humming with the sounds of slot machines, spilling poker chips and shouts suggest how each gambler's night is going...

  • Best Place to Geek Out

    Phoenix Comicon

    It was another banner year for Phoenix's premier comics convention. Phoenix Comicon hit a new record number of attendees. The grand total? That'd be 77,818. Yup, nearly 80,000 people turned up at the 'con's 2014 edition. We'd say a large part of that is thanks to the event's superb people-watching,...

  • Best Paranormal Convention

    UFO Congress Radisson Fort McDowell Resort & Casino

    Presented by local ufology think tank Open Minds, the UFO Congress at Fort McDowell is a massive five-day event, incorporating movie screenings, lectures, and entertainment, all centered on the idea that we are not alone. Though the congress is primarily concerned with extraterrestrials, its guests are treated to information on...

  • Best Home Tour

    Modern Phoenix

    Every year, Modern Phoenix's home tour makes us see our Valley with new eyes. Organized by Alison King, the event opens buildings and homes that reveal elements of Phoenix's Midcentury Modern architecture that we wouldn't otherwise see. This year, for instance, the self-guided event took us through the consistently top-ranked...

  • Best Neighborhood

    Arcadia Lite

    No longer a neighborhood nicknamed with light derision, Arcadia Lite is owning it. Really — with signs, a neighborhood association and everything. Everything, that is, except the markedly higher home prices of the more established Arcadia proper, which lies to the west. In Arcadia Lite, you'll find homes built between...

  • Best Up-and-Coming Neighborhood

    Garfield Historic District

    Go back 20 years and you'd find only two reasons to visit downtown Phoenix: courtside seats and courthouse appearances. But now, thanks to an influx of academic organizations, arts and culture events, and local business, this urban forget-me-not is in full bloom. Hence the gentrification of historic Central Phoenix neighborhoods...

  • Best Art at a Library

    Camp Dreamtree at Scottsdale Public Library

    Don't be fooled by the child-friendly nature of this fun-filled art installation at Scottsdale Public Library: Camp Dreamtree was not just for kids. Created by husband-and-wife artists Roy Wasson Valle and Koryn Woodward Wassoon, Camp Dreamtree was an interactive piece that allowed visitors to earn achievements by completing special tasks...

  • Best Storytelling for the Masses

    Arizona Storytellers Project

    It's not every day we give a Best of Phoenix award to the Arizona Republic, but it's not every day the Republic does something as out-of-the-box as Arizona Storytellers, a program that has been in place for several years and has reached scores of people who otherwise may not ever...

  • Best Independent Movie Theater

    FilmBar

    For FilmBar, it's all in the name. You've got your movies. You've got a bar. But the specific selections are what keep us coming back to the indie theater — with craft beers and a slate of films programmed by Valley cinema mainstay Andrea Beesley. This year, the indie theater...

  • Best Budget Movie Theater

    Pollack Tempe Cinemas

    If you don't mind missing opening night, take pride in being a cheapskate, and can appreciate (a lot of) movie kitsch, Pollack Tempe Cinemas is for you. It's owned by real estate mogul Michael Pollack, whom you'll spot in pictures hanging throughout the lobby, alongside life-size statues of movie stars...

  • Best Luxury Movie Theater

    AMC Esplanade 14

    Dinner and a movie? More like dinner in the movie. For those who'd rather save time, not chat with their movie companion, or need to see it to believe it, AMC Esplanade 14 is the place. Reserve your seats online. Settle into your leather recliner. And press a button to...

  • Best Cult Movie Series

    Cult Classics at Pollack Tempe Cinemas

    Blockbusters are boring. Rom-coms are cliche. And don't even get us started on what stands for comedy nowadays. Fortunately, the finer films of yesteryear are staying alive and well on Tempe Pollack's big screen, thanks to Zia Record Exchange metro Phoenix movie buffs Cult Classics. Operated by Victor Moreno, Alison...

  • Best Place to Spot a Celebrity

    Gainey Village Health Club

    Members of the Village Gainey Health Club and Spa in Scottsdale are accustomed to doing double takes while they do double time on the elliptical machine. That's because the high-end, high-class gym gets its fair share of A-list members. At this recreation center for the rich, it's not unusual to...

  • Best People Watching

    Arizona State Fair

    When the Ferris wheel starts turning and the food starts frying, Phoenix fair-goers find themselves abuzz with talk of the most ridiculous rides, the craziest confection concoctions, and the lineup of slightly less than A-list musical acts. But truth be told, our favorite attraction at the Arizona State Fair just...

  • Best Bathroom

    He/She bathroom at AZ88

    Attention, ladies, gentlemen, and everyone in between. It's high time we came out of the water closet. The world is not black and white, and a lot more happens in a restaurant bathroom than just number one or number two. Perhaps no one knew this better than the late Scottsdale...

  • Best Literary Journal

    Four Chambers Press

    It's tough to pinpoint the heart of Phoenix's independent literary scene, but Four Chambers just might be it. The journal, released twice a year, collects works of fiction including locally produced poems and short stories, with the goal of creating a stronger network of culturally conscious locals by building up...

  • Best Spoken-Word Series

    Lit Lounge at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

    Local arts dynamo Tania Katan launched this spoken-word series in 2012, and it — fueled by local talent and Katan's actor pals in Los Angeles — was an overnight success. Sometimes humorous, often touching, and always entertaining, this hour-plus of live readings from people such as actress Kim Porter and...

  • Best Place to Be Seen

    Phoenix Art Museum on First Friday

    In-the-know art fans and schmoozers alike drop in between 5 and 10 p.m. on the first Friday of every month, not only to cruise Phoenix Art Museum's current exhibitions and ogle its permanent collection for free, but also to see and be seen among like-minded creatives. Even those who've already...

  • Best New Gallery

    Halt Gallery

    It's no secret that we're fans of Becky Nahom. The ASU grad and arts scene up-and-comer (who's worked or volunteered at nearly every major arts institution in town) won a 2014 Big Brain Award for her curatorial efforts. With her partner, Julia Bruck, Nahom launched Halt Gallery, a mobile curating...

  • Best Art Gallery

    Lisa Sette Gallery

    After 28 years on Scottsdale's Marshall Way, Lisa Sette Gallery has moved to midtown Phoenix. Its new home is a semi-subterranean building by late Midcentury Modern architect Al Beadle. Wrapped in white scrim, it's a beautiful, minimal space in white and gray that's a sleek backdrop to pieces showcased by...

  • Best Pop-Up Gallery

    Hot Box Gallery

    Contain yourself. The downtown Phoenix arts scene has a new pop-up gallery that's made from a repurposed ocean-certified shipping container — and it's a must-see. The Greg Esser-helmed arts project launched with help from Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art, Roosevelt Row CDC, and grant funding from ArtPlace America. Since then,...

  • Best Student Gallery

    Art One

    Not too long ago, Marshall Way in Old Town Scottsdale was the place to be on Thursday evenings, for art walks that predated downtown Phoenix's crazy First Fridays and actually offered art you might want to buy and hang on your walls — assuming you could afford it. One by...

  • Best Stop on Art Detour

    "Apache X: 10 Years of Douglas Miles and Apache Skateboards" at MonOrchid

    To interestingly and engagingly fill the sprawling space of Roosevelt Row's MonOrchid is an impressive feat. The sizable gallery played host to our favorite exhibition during the 26th edition of Art Detour, an annual self-guided tour of galleries and artists' studios in Phoenix. Curated by Nicole Royse, "Apache X" was...

  • Best First Friday Hangout

    Grant Street Studios

    The warehouse district is on the up and up. And ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is getting in on the action. Along with five graduate studio programs from the School of Art, the school moved its Step Gallery from Tempe to a warehouse renovated by preservationist Michael...

  • Best Temporary Public Art

    Sarah Hurwitz's Participation Prize

    There's no other way to say it: Sarah Hurwitz's Participation Prize made us smile. (Full disclosure: Hurwitz is a New Times contributor.) As part of the Valley-wide temporary public art initiative IN FLUX's fourth cycle, the piece was installed on Roosevelt and Fourth streets. The interactive sculpture is a purple...

  • Best Permanent Public Art

    James Turrell's Knight Rise

    Light is acclaimed artist James Turrell's medium of choice. And it shines just right through his Scottsdale skyspace Knight Rise. Completed in 2001, the work is, to put it simply, a circular room with a bench lining the walls and a circular cutout in the ceiling, above a curved wall...

  • Best Graffiti Artist

    El Peezo

    Now you see them, now you don't. The wheat paste works of graffiti artist and 2014 Big Brain finalist El Peezo are like the Houdinis of 'hood art. Adorning the walls of abandoned buildings and occupied structures, down secluded side streets and major public access roads, these colorful yet easily...

  • Best Poet

    Alberto Álvaro Ríos

    Arizona is rich in the traditions of poetry. Local poets who keep the art of verse alive include Alison Hawthorne Deming, Norman Dubie, and N. Scott Momaday, but none are so celebrated as Alberto Álvaro Ríos, our own State Poet Laureate. The author of ten books of poetry, three collections...

  • Best Mural

    JBAK's Generations

    It's hard to miss JBAK's six-story mural on Thomas and Central. Though Berlin-based artists Karl Addison and James Bullough, who together make up JBAK, are accustomed to doing large-scale work, Generations marked the first mural of this magnitude in Phoenix. But the piece isn't earning accolades for size alone. Generations...

  • Best Designer

    Monique Sandoval

    Chances are, right now in the back room of her Pinterest-perfect boutique, Cleo & Clementine, Monique Sandoval is creating something beautiful. The fashion designer, whose label is called Ouma, has garnered quite the reputation as a go-to wedding dressmaker for the Etsy set, with airy bridal gowns and delicate party...

  • Best Left-Wing Blog

    Steve Muratore's Arizona Eagletarian

    Arizona Democrat Steve Muratore doesn't suffer fools gladly, whether he's wondering whether Attorney General Tom Horne is a "psychopath," accusing a spokeswoman for schools Superintendent John Huppenthal of polishing a piece of merde, or calling out the Capitol Times for kissing up to pro-plutocrat legislators. What makes him different from...

  • Best Right-Wing Blog

    Seeing Red AZ

    Seeing Red AZ is the blog to go to if you want to explore the bizarro-world mind of the average Republican activist in Maricopa County. Granted, it's a journey into darkness, but one where you will make some astonishing discoveries. For instance, so-called "Common Core" is not a matter of...

  • Best Lifestyle Blog

    Field & Fellow

    Ashley Eaton, she of mobile vintage boutique Merry May Handmade, got married. Now she goes by Ashley Eaton Denton. And in chronicling her wedding to Trevor Denton, he of local band Sun Ghost, the duo created our new favorite locally run lifestyle blog. Field & Fellow follows the newlyweds as...

  • Best Zine

    Michael Max McLeod's Texas Porno Roadtrip

    If you thought you would never get to see the inside of an adult video arcade, think again. Photographer Michael Max McLeod has been documenting these ever-disappearing establishments across the country for the past few years. Beginning in Phoenix, McLeod eventually branched out; after a summer trip through The Lone...

  • Best Library

    Desert Foothills Library

    This award-winning library serves the residents of Cave Creek and Carefree and surrounding areas, and it serves them awfully well. When's the last time you visited a library with its own grand piano? Desert Foothills has one, and it uses it, too, for its live music events. The library also...

  • Best Model

    Alexis Hamilton

    Three words regarding Alexis Hamilton: Girl. Can. Walk. Not in the everyday, putting-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other sort of way. No, it's more of a pretty-sure-she-could-win-Top Model type of vibe. And Phoenix's fashion scene is all the better for it. When Hamilton powers down the catwalk, it's damn near impossible to not think of...

  • Best Fashion Collaboration

    Bunky x Sentrock at Bunky Boutique

    Bunky owners Rachel and Jim Malloy and artist Joseph "Sentrock" Perez go way back. Sentrock, a Phoenix native based in Chicago, came to Bunky looking for a new shirt to wear to his first-ever exhibition opening. In the seven years since, the Malloys and Sentrock have stayed tight, with the...

  • Best Fashion Week Cameo

    Robert Black

    Phoenix Fashion Week 2013 opened with a bang. The annual style outing brought together emerging and established designers to show off their wares. But local fashion icon and boutique owner Robert Black brought to the runway something a bit different. He styled pieces from his eponymous shop with a Southwestern...

  • Best Creative Collaboration

    The Creative Center

    The Creative Center of Scottsdale, an eco-friendly co-working space set to be completed later this year, is a collaborative project by owner/photographer Michelle Pelberg-Biely and green designer Christina Noble of Contour Design Studio. The idea is inspired: a social hangout and networking hub for local creatives. In addition, this 6,000-square-foot...

  • Best Phoenician to Follow on Instagram

    Helen Yung

    If you've been to Sweet Republic for ice cream (and who hasn't?) you know that ice cream maker Helen Yung has great taste — from the Toffee Banofi sundae to every sweet detail in the new Central Phoenix outpost of the tiny ice cream empire she and business partner Jan...

  • Best Phoenician to Follow on Twitter

    Robbie Sherwood

    He's charming and funny, and if you aren't lucky enough to know Robbie Sherwood personally, you can follow the political consultant on social media. His posts are newsy, smart, and entertaining — and he never takes himself too seriously. Hey, Robbie, maybe you should run for public office!...

  • Best Politician

    Congressman Ed Pastor

    It turns out that it's completely possible to be a member of Congress without being desperate for attention, and it's not actually a requirement to make constant appearances on Fox News or MSNBC to blame all of society's ills on President Obama or Republicans in Congress. Democratic Congressman Ed Pastor...

  • Best Power Couple

    Kate and Ruben Gallego

    In a state where Democrats are an endangered species, Ruben Gallego is a liberal's dream candidate. He's a Harvard graduate and Iraq War veteran who's fought hard for every progressive cause as a state representative, from marijuana legalization to supporting a recall of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. After just four years...

  • Best Cry Baby

    John Huppenthal

    One of the best features of many blogs is the ability to comment anonymously — unless someone figures out the identity of the person behind the comments. That happened this year to state schools Superintendent John Huppenthal, who commented on a progressive blog as Falcon9, Thucydides, and Socrates. It turns...

  • Best Political Zombie

    Tom Horne

    Why did Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne stay alive so long — politically speaking? Hey, don't blame us. New Times was the first to tell the public that Horne had hired his mistress to a top post at the AG's Office for a six-figure salary. Horne then ordered an internal...

  • Best Prosecutor Who Should Be Attorney General

    Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk

    What is wrong with Arizona that a scummy politico like Attorney General Tom Horne is the state's top law enforcement official, while the most ethical prosecutor in the state will probably never occupy that position. The latter, of course, is Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, a staunch Republican who does...

  • Best Joe Arpaio Jokes

    State Representative John Kavanagh

    Far-right Republican state Representative John Kavanagh, who is looking to ease on over to the state Senate this year, has a couple of things going for him, from a journalist's point of view. First, he always calls us back, though he knows that New Times is likely to rip him...

  • Best Smackdown

    Judge G. Murray Snow

    A clash between the judge who ruled against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Arpaio himself was inevitable. Federal Judge G. Murray Snow decided against Arpaio and his office in 2013, essentially finding the MCSO to be guilty of racial profiling. Later, Snow enumerated a long list of requirements for the Sheriff's...

  • Best Self-Inflicted Wound

    The Arizona GOP's Censure of U.S. Senator John McCain

    Let's be honest, no one really likes U.S. Senator John McCain all that much. (Self-love aside.) So is it any wonder that far-rightists in the Arizona Republican Party would hate the guy, too? GOP hard-liners regard McCain as a RiNO (Republican in Name Only), particularly for his support of comprehensive...

  • Best Example of Religious Extremism

    Cathi Herrod of Center for Arizona Policy

    CAP's Cathi Herrod acts like she owns the place, meaning, of course, the Arizona Legislature, where her anti-LGBT initiative, Senate Bill 1062, backfired big-time, with a statewide and nationwide backlash that forced Governor Jan Brewer's hand and resulted in a veto. Herrod was rightly demonized, but we've got some bad...

  • Best Unpaid Political Strategist

    Tyler Montague, president of the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance

    Tyler Montague works from home for a national banking firm. Politics is not a profession for him. It's a hobby, one that he just happens to be very good at. During the recall campaign against former state Senate President Russell Pearce, he was one of the Mesa Republicans who helped...

  • Best Public Information Officer

    Matt Roberts of the Arizona Secretary of State's Office

    Matt Roberts is the hardest-workin' man in state government. The communications director for Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett left his post in June to help his boss run for governor, and he was missed almost immediately by the local Fourth Estate, which had counted on him for years to...

  • Best TV Host

    Ted Simons of KAET Channel 8

    If you actually want to know what's going on around Arizona, the local PBS station's Arizona Horizon is the only place on TV to find it. Instead of the short mash-up of soundbites that make up so many local TV news programs, Arizona Horizon host Ted Simons brings the sources...

  • Best TV Newscaster

    Carey Peña, KTVK Channel 3

    Sometimes you have to wonder if the Valley's TV newscasters are robots who just get unplugged at the end of the program every night and stuffed in a storage closet until they get plugged in again at 6 p.m. the next day. Not 3TV's Carey Peña. She's a competent news...

  • Best YA Author

    Tom Leveen

    He's thrilled a generation of young adult readers with his smart, bestselling Young Adult novels and made Phoenix proud, besides. Because Tom Leveen, who lives here with his wife and young son, is that rarest of guys: a literary local boy made good. After toiling for more than 20 years...

  • Best Poetry Slam

    Phoenix Poetry Slam

    As poetry slammers go, these folks are the champs. Headed up by Lawn Gnome Publishing, this slam team isn't about rhyming moon and June. These poets not only write, practice, and compete on a national level with other laureates, but also perform at private parties, speak at local schools, and...

  • Best News Radio Station

    KJZZ 91.5 FM

    Insightful coverage and reporting from nationally syndicated programs like Talk of the Nation and PRI's The World provide excellent national and international coverage, but it's KJZZ's Arizona and Southwestern-centric reporting that sets it apart from other news outlets in Phoenix. Whether it's The Show, covering adaptive reuse of historic properties...

  • Best In-the-Works Radio Station

    102.9 FM

    When we heard Phoenix's airwaves would soon be home to a new community station, you better bet we were all ears. Though 102.9 FM is currently static, the frequency is also filled with possibilities. A full schedule of programming is expected to launch in August 2015, and a few shows...

  • Best Digital Magazine

    Emma

    Martha never looked this good — at least, she hasn't for a very long time. Emma bills itself "for the modern domestic goddess" — and it's clear the magazine is targeting the Stewart-inclined millennial. Smart thinking. From how to make fork pompoms to how to make a faux bob, with...

  • Best Dancer

    Gavin Sisson

    When Scorpius Dance Theatre presented A Vampire Tale for the 10th year in a row, we couldn't take our eyes off Gavin Sisson. Between completely selling his role as a creepy vampire to moving with unparalleled energy and leading the troupe in its aerial work with silks draped from the...

  • Best Performance Art Series

    Performance in the Borderlands

    Phoenix may not have open-air theaters like London or Shakespeare in the Park like New York City, but, as it turns out, the desert makes an even more interesting performance art venue. Performance in the Borderlands is an ASU initiative that has been responsible for the curation of all kinds...

  • Best Actor

    Jon Gentry in Around the World in 80 Days

    It's amazing to think that Jon Gentry, one of our longtime most dependable stage players, made his Arizona Theatre Company debut this year in that company's production of Jules Verne's classic Around the World in 80 Days. In Mark Brown's adaptation directed by Childsplay's David P. Saar, Gentry's Passeportout, manservant...

  • Best Actress

    Shari Watts in August: Osage County

    Tracy Letts' epic, relentlessly dismal yet moving and entertaining August: Osage County won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. And in last year's Mesa Encore Theatre production, Shari Watts takes local honors for her performance in the lead. She assayed the role of Violet with a heartbreaking resignation that never...

  • Best Performance by a Child Actor in a Professional Production

    Riley Glick in Ruthless! The Musical

    Packed from end to end with faultless performances, Phoenix Theatre's Ruthless! The Musical was a stunner. Joel Paley's book and lyrics — about a little girl who'll do anything to play the lead in the school musical — provided a convulsion of nudging and winking at anyone up on their...

  • Best Theater Director

    Ron May

    Even if Ron May, founder of Stray Cat Theatre and recent star of the one-person show The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, had only brought us his company's production of The Whale last season, that would have been enough to snag him our undying gratitude and admiration. In that...

  • Best Playwright

    Dwayne Hartford

    He's a talented actor and a well-loved theater educator, to be sure. But we're proudest of Dwayne Hartford's remarkable body of work as a playwright. Hartford, the associate artist and playwright in residence at Childsplay, only began writing in 2000, yet his work, often developed through Childsplay's Whiteman New Plays...

  • Best Professional Theater

    Arizona Theatre Company

    Okay, so they dared to torture us last season with the roller-disco monstrosity Xanadu. But the state's professional theater, also brought us a stunning production of Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities and David Ives' Tony-nominated Venus in Fur, beautifully acted by Michael Tisdale and Gillian Williams and expertly directed...

  • Best Children's Theater

    Childsplay

    It's almost unfair to laud Childsplay for its many finely tuned theatrical productions, because this professional company has had 37 years to learn to do children's theater right. And, boy, have they! Last year alone, they thrilled (and educated) kids all over the Valley with The Miraculous Journey of Edward...

  • Best New Black Box

    Phoenix Theatre's Black Box Space

    Twenty years ago or more, Phoenix Theatre operated a black box, where those of us who liked edgier plays and musicals could go for offbeat theater. Late last year, the now-93-year-old company unveiled, as part of its multimillion-dollar renovation, a new black box space. Those of us who once laughed...

  • Best Community Theater

    Stray Cat

    Stray Cat's 11th season may not be remembered as its best ever, but no one who saw the company's production of The Whale, starring Damon Dering and directed by the company's founder, Ron May, will forget it. This also was the year Stray Cat scored a coup with film and...

  • Best Stage Surprise

    Mary's Wedding, Theatre Artists Studio

    Set "somewhere in Canada" in 1920, Mary's Wedding offered a simple story about a transplanted city girl who doesn't like the country so much until she meets a pretty farmhand named Charles. Canadian playwright Stephen Massicotte's sweet memory play got a first-class staging, early this year, by this often iffy...

  • Best Reason to Go to the Theater All Season

    Damon Dering in The Whale

    If culturally minded people remember anything about Valentine's weekend 2014, it will be this: That was the weekend Stray Cat Theatre brought us The Whale. Samuel D. Hunter's story about a morbidly obese man seeking redemption at the end of his life featured a career-making performance by actor Damon Dering,...

  • Best Return from the Theatrical Grave

    Actors Theatre

    The behemoth stirs! We're grateful that this smart professional theater company didn't just blow away after plunging into financial despair in 2012. Instead, artistic director Matthew Weiner and his staff got busy raising funds, booking plays, and spending a whole season as vagabonds, working out of several different playhouses. And...

  • Best Trip Down Memory Lane

    Vintage Phoenix

    There are times when living in Phoenix can be tough. Politics, the endless sprawl of chain restaurants and strip malls. But Vintage Phoenix, a Facebook page managed by local musician and photographer Dave Driscoll, doesn't make Phoenix perfect, but the vintage pictures, of canoe paddlers at Encanto Park, the Tovrea...

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