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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Barista

Every coffee snob has his favorite barista; it's sort of like rooting for your hometown football team. But how do you determine who's actually the best of the best? The answer was the first-ever Mountain Regional Barista Competition, held in March in Thornton — though the results were a letdown for latte-loving locals, since they can't actually enjoy the efforts of several of the top contenders, who were either based in other states or didn't serve drinks to the public. It was sort of like a fantasy football team winning the Super Bowl. Thankfully, you can partake of one champion's work at a local coffee shop: third-place winner Heidi Bickelhaudt of Trident Booksellers and Cafe in Boulder. Bickelhaudt, who learned the ropes in such coffee hot spots as Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin, pulls a mean espresso and knows the secrets of roasting, too. Next time you get a cappuccino from her, you can tell your jealous friends you just had the best coffee drink around, and you won't be talking java jive.

Best American Idol Knockoff

What's much more fun than watching American Idol every week? Trying to become the British Bulldog's Rock Idol. Competitors had to choose songs from such categories as "'90s" and "female vocalists." With the Bulldog's buy-one-get-one-free drafts and well drinks, there were plenty of people in the audience for the would-be Rock Idols to entertain, and in this competition, singing was second place to entertaining. Will Rock Idol return for a second season? Let's hope the folks at the British Bulldog are up for another round.

Best Actor in a Black-Hearted Comedy

Gene Gillette held the stage with complete authority in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, a crazed, cathartic bloodbath of a play dominated by scenes of torture, murder and dismemberment. As the psychotic Padraic, unhinged by the death of his cat, he was dopey, sentimental and terrifying, and you believed he was capable of every violent act attributed to him — and a good deal more.

Best Actor in a Drama

Everyone's bigger than life in Tennessee Williams's melodrama about familial battles in the hot, lurid South, and everyone talks nonstop, but Brick is required to say very little for a long, long time. Chris Reid made the character complex and multi-dimensional, so that his extended silences pulsed with feeling and thought — and when he exploded, everything around him went white, like the landscape during a lightning flash. His Brick was cruel and cowardly, passionate, tormented and subtle, with a quietly twisted sense of humor. A deeply felt and resonant performance.

Best Actor in a Light Comedy

In Soul Survivor, Vincent C. Robinson clearly had a great time portraying the Devil as he attempted to win the soul of a quiet, rational man already quite happy with his life. He swaggered, teased and seduced the audience, uttered tee-hees of laughter that were both sinister and self-mocking, mugged, grimaced and, at one point, broke into an outrageous triumphal dance — and the audience enjoyed every moment just as much as he did.

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Best Actor in a Musical

Seymour is a nerdy soul who's faced with a Faustian bargain when he finds and tends a man-eating plant that offers him money, prestige and the love of Seymour's beautiful co-worker, Audrey — but only if Seymour keeps feeding it flesh. It's a ridiculous premise that fuels a goofy show, but Brandon Dill, an expressive actor with a strong voice, actually made you feel for the guy.

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Best Barista: Heidi Bickelhaudt

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