The inaugural Fort Lauderdale Fringe Festival was like an all-you-can-eat buffet of theater. Three separate Broward College classrooms were converted into black-box-style theaters that would house ten hours of more than 20 plays — largely crafted by local talent. Vanessa Elise, a playwright and Carbonell-nominated actor, was brought on by Broward College (which hosted the event) as a consulting artistic director. "That's the beauty of the fringe: Every piece is absolutely different," she told New Times. "We have one that is a musical in Spanglish. We have a theatrical composition that was submitted as a proposal — they built the script as they rehearsed. There's even a Noh [Japanese musical drama] play written by Cynthia Joyce Clay — it's very slow and poetic and quite beautiful." All that variety helped fill a hole in the Broward arts scene that has been sorely missing for, like, ever. And we really hope the festival returns, bigger and better than ever, in 2016.

Readers' Choice: SunFest

If you have some friends, an hour or two, and a high tolerance for anxiety, the mind-bending puzzles at Escape the Quest will make for a memorable experience. You and your pals are stuck together in a room, given a scenario, and must figure out how to extract yourself. In a crime-scene scenario, you have to use clues to figure out a way to escape without becoming a suspect yourself. In a "Stay of Execution" game, you better hope the governor pardons you before the clock ticks down. The company started in South Beach in 2014. Games are good for kids age 7 and up, though one player must be at least 16. A session starts at $100. They can also organize corporate events.

The Alchemist
Nicole Danna

You're swiping right like crazy, just waiting for something to connect. Finally, a match! Who knows what this creature will be when you encounter it in real life, but the messages are flying back and forth. But where do you go with this potential future partner? Do you meet at a bar? Nah, too good a chance you'll end up shitfaced and alone, puking on your shoes. Meet at a coffee shop! We've got the perfect little peach-colored, wooden house with outdoor seating. This is the Alchemist, so besides the cool, laid-back, and earth-friendly vibe, chances are you will have cosmically good chemistry with your new partner. Order a hot chocolate — you add natural chocolate sticks to steaming milk. Or grab a fresh coconut to sip from as a conversation starter. If romance doesn't bloom (sorry, babe), you can flee with a tasty treat in hand.

The Classic Gateway Theatre

Pick a spot in Fort Lauderdale. Any spot. Chances are, in five years — five weeks, even — that spot will look very different from what it does now. Sure, construction is the sign of a healthy, growing city, but in a way, it's sad. It's nice to have a little permanence in life. However, there is one part of Fort Lauderdale — one very tiny slice — that has remained unchanged since 1951. For the past 64 years, the Classic Gateway movie theater has been scooping popcorn and making pictures come to life. Within walking distance of the beach, the Gateway marquee is a comforting sight to any native and just about the only good thing about being stuck in the mechanical hernia that is Sunrise Boulevard traffic. These days, it's one of the only places to catch indie movies in Fort Lauderdale, and even though the seats are a little creaky, Gateway has found a way to remain relevant and fresh in today's Fort Lauderdale. Keep your fully reclining seats and artisanal organic sodas, modern movie theaters! This is how movies are meant to be watched.

Readers' Choice: iPic Theaters at Mizner Park

When you see Daisy Deadpetals in action — spouting out caustic jokes, laying down some wily dance moves, and looking better than any Boca bitch — it's hard to believe that men who dress up as women were ever considered weird. When Daisy hosts events like dance parties at Camelot and "new meat contests" at Boardwalk or when she simply roams the streets of Wilton Manors, it is with nuclear levels of ferocity. Wish we had a fraction of the confidence.

facebook.com/queendaisyd

Readers' Choice: Daisy Deadpetals

Palm Beach billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is a hedge-fund manager who in the early 2000s was accused of paying underaged girls for sex in his beachside mansion. His sordid tale of hunting for happy endings among mall rats took on new life this past year when his victims turned around and named members of the British and Ivy League aristocracy as the perv's co-debauchees. Multiple allegations of solicitation of minors had been whittled down to a slap-on-the-wrist plea deal for Epstein in 2008, but that arrangement prompted a federal civil suit; the victims sued the government, alleging they hadn't been made aware of the plea-deal negotiations. As part of legal filings in that case, it was alleged that Epstein passed at least one teen girl around like a party favor to his high and mighty friends, including Prince Andrew and Harvard prof and renowned litigator Alan Dershowitz (who helped broker Epstein's plea deal). The two have denied it, but the civil suit drags on.

Get a hanky ready, 'cause this one is a tearjerker. Usually, publicity stunts are just craven attempts to snag the media's attention. Sometimes, however, they actually are for a good purpose. Broward was lucky enough to see the latter in 2014. Last June, Make-A-Wish Southern Florida and TooJay's in Coral Springs granted the wishes of 9-year-old leukemia patient Jaylen Hyde. The local little boy wanted to become Striker Boy, a superhero he cooked up on his own. Various do-gooders not only hooked Jaylen up with a costume and logo for Striker Boy but, along with the Broward Sheriff's Office, planned a whole day of adventures for the pint-sized crime fighter. This included a helicopter ride, a Lamborghini, a damsel in distress, and an arch-evildoer named Sneaky Pete. Striker Boy's day in the spotlight eventually went viral.

Incumbent West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio suffered many a bruising battle in her first term in office, and when City Commissioner Kim Mitchell — following years in which she seemed to be the real straw that stirred the West Palm Beach drink — threw her hat in the ring last year against Muoio, it promised to be a close contest. Both sides were well-connected to the local business community, and Mitchell had the support of three key weapons: a political machine strong in the gated communities of suburbia; her über-lobbyist ex-husband, Richard Pinsky; and her mom, Anita Mitchell, a GOP bigwig. Despite the slinging of enough mud to raise a mountain, Mitchell went down in March in a 63 percent to 37 percent shellacking, dashing the hopes of a would-be Republican Party rising star.

Let's get this out of the way: Marco Rubio is terrible — a high-voiced, bootlicking opportunist who has tried to gallop atop a (partly bullshit) origin story, painting himself as a refugee from Communist Cuba who's risen as a Tea Party gunslinger. But the best part about watching Rubio leave Florida: It leaves his U.S. Senate seat unprotected. (Rubio is running for president, though he first must trek a campaign trail whereupon Republican candidates will use each other for toothpicks.) Enter from stage left Patrick Murphy, the Palm Beach-based congressional rep with a fresh face, strong track record, and — and we actually consider this a plus — a mug shot from a drunken college night that's already all over the internet. Because really, who among us wasn't booted from a South Beach club when we were 18? It's relatable. Really, though, Murphy is already something of a monster-slayer. He took down Allen West, an evil scientist's lab creation of the most vile politician possible.

murphyforflorida.com

The suburban Daniel Boones of the Palm Beach County Tea Party leaped to the fringe of local right-wing circles this year with their serial hosting of crackpot "scientist" John Casey, president of the Space and Science Research Corp. and cofounder and chairman of the International Earthquake and Volcano Prediction Center, both outfits conveniently located in Orlando, where magical thinking meets the Magic Kingdom. Casey preached "global cooling" to the Tea Partiers in a trio of presentations last fall and again this spring and foresees "decades of potentially dangerous cold weather" ahead. He says his studies have never been published in a peer-reviewed academic journal because of "bias." (University of Miami climate scientist Dr. Ben Kirtman has one word for Casey's theories: "Nonsense.")

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