Best Musical

In a year when discussion of a bill that would prevent transgender people from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity has dominated state politics, the first national tour of Hedwig and the Angry Inch also visited Texas. John Cameron Mitchell's musical has been familiarizing American audiences with what it means to be transgender for nearly 20 years, long before gender dysphoria was part of the national lexicon, and it won a Tony when it debuted on Broadway in 2014. On Broadway, Neil Patrick Harris played the role Hedwig Robinson, a transgender woman from East Germany, who tells the story of her sex change, move to Kansas and career as a rock singer, all set to a '70s glam rock soundtrack. In February, Euan Morton appeared as Hedwig for the musical's performance at the Winspear Opera House. It was a marvelous feat of set design, with a giant, translucent screen that served as a striking canvas for the show's graphics — but most important, it was a fun, funny and emotional tale that couldn't have come at a better time.

Readers' Pick: Wicked

Best Non-Music Festival

Most festivals are fairly predictable. If it's a music fest, you can expect some big names, a bad vantage point and to spend a whole paycheck on bacon-wrapped macarons or some other food gimmick. Frightmare Fest is anything but predictable, and if you're a fan of horror or even just the macabre, it's one you must attend. The three-day festival, which has been going on for 12 years, is laid out inside the labyrinthine Hyatt Regency at D/FW Airport. When you round a corner, you might run into Malcolm McDowell of A Clockwork Orange, a stand selling Venus flytraps or a lifelike corpse prop being autopsied. Frightmare Weekend, founded by Lord Cryer, returns every May. The itinerary each day is packed with roundtables, panels, parties and meet-and-greets — plus plenty of opportunities to grab a T-shirt of your favorite Stephen King adaptation from hundreds of vendors.

Readers' Pick: Deep Ellum Arts Festival

Best Theater Company

The symphony, the opera, the theater ... these are not venues people with short attention spans are likely to visit, however beautiful the work created inside them may be. That's why we're grateful for Dead White Zombies, a theater experience that's perfect for anyone with an insatiable curiosity and an inability to sit still. University of Texas at Dallas drama professor Thomas Riccio writes all the performances, which Dead White Zombies call "instigations." They're loosely scripted, interactive and staged in unconventional spaces. Last May, Holy Bone, a performance designed to encourage attendees to disconnect from technology and reconnect to their humanity, started out at Tacos Mariachi and sent attendees — broken into small groups — on an adventure through spaces in West Dallas. The plots are a bit hard to follow, but a Dead White Zombies experience is always stimulating and mind expanding.

Readers' Pick: Pocket Sandwich Theatre

Dallas is no stranger to reality shows. We have a Housewives and a Little Women, and the two most recent Bachelorettes have called Dallas home. But the best reality show is one that has been around since 2006 and is filming its 12th season. CMT's Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team is essentially the same story line every season: Hundreds of hopeful women try out to be part of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, but only about 36 make it. There are tears, injuries, dances and a lot of speculation from the judges and coaches on whether the women are fit to represent America's team as one of America's sweethearts. Despite its repetitiveness, it is fascinating to watch a skinny woman be told she needs to lose more weight to look good in the iconic uniform. Nothing about it is politically correct, but that's why it's so captivating. And the tears. There are a lot of tears.

Best Reality Star

Each season of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team, the two directors of the team critique the women trying out for spots on the most famous cheerleading squad in the world. They make cuts, tell women they need to lose weight and try their best to narrow the squad down to the best. Then the team's technical instructor makes a cameo each season and heightens everything. She yells at the women, telling them their high kicks suck and that if they don't get it together, they will never dance on the squad. That technical instructor is Kitty Carter. A former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, she knows what it takes to be on the team and often passes down her wisdom with sarcastic jabs. When we met her off camera, she was exactly the same.

Best Brunch Drinks

When choosing the restaurant with the best brunch drinks, we had three qualifiers. First, the drinks must be cheap. Second, the drinks must stand on their own — good enough to merit a trip solely to consume one. Third, the food must also be merit worthy, for even the most devout of drinkers will inevitably wind up ordering some sustenance. The White Rock location of Cane Rosso checks all three boxes and does so with great panache. With $1 mimosas and $3 micheladas and bloody marys, it's beating the majority of the competition when it comes to price and to quality. That, coupled with the fact that you can chow down on a Neapolitan-style pizza or potato-batter waffles, makes this choice easy.

Best Dramatic Reality TV Moment

A good reality show is nothing without dramatic moments, and an episode of The Real Housewives of Dallas is certainly nothing without seemingly rich women doing seemingly dramatic things. When LeeAnne Locken got so angry at an event that she ran out of the place and hit a moving trolley, the world stopped turning. Her friend beside her was shocked at her behavior. The valet man behind her was unfazed. America was confused. And Dallas was embarrassed. It was easily the highlight of the season and made Locken one of the crazier housewives in recent history. The moment is what GIFs and memes are made of and will go down in Housewives history.

Best Real Housewife
of Dallas

Brandi Redmond is the fiery redhead who danced with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. She's once again America's sweetheart, this time as a real housewife. Audiences loved her during the first season of the show because she made fart jokes with BFF Stephanie Hollman and made her Housewives frenemies claim her behavior was a little too Plano. When she wasn't making fart jokes or spreading rumors that her co-star LeeAnne Locken once pooped in a box, she was drinking Jesus juice — a phrase she coined for everyone's favorite adult beverage, wine. Now, she's making money by selling T-shirts and wine glasses with that term plastered on them via Take Me To BrandiLand, her line of clothes and gifts. What's not to love about her?

Best Comedian

Whether you're looking for a Dallas comic to perform a clean set at your corporate event or want to head to the Addison Improv for non-workplace-approved humor, Aaron Aryanpur is your guy. Not only does Dallas think he's funny (the Funniest Comic in Texas in 2012), America is also impressed with him. When he released his debut comedy album, In Spite Of, it quickly rose to No. 1 on the iTunes comedy chart, and he was a semifinalist on Comedy Central's Up Next Talent Search. He's a regular at comedy festivals around the country, giving his best funny takes on weight, marriage and more.

Because there may be roughly 1 million fashion bloggers just in Dallas, it's hard to tell one from the others. If you follow more than one on Instagram, you realize they are sharing all the same clothes from all the same department stores. Dallastyle's Taylor thankfully shows us unique fashion finds paired with shoes and accessories we thought only runway models were allowed to wear. Plus, her Instagram feed doesn't feel like one giant ad for whatever brand last offered to pay. Dallastyle has a way of inviting followers into Taylor's life through the pictures and words on her blog while inspiring fashion fans all over Dallas and the world with different outfits.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of