Broadway’s top tappers, hottest hoofers and grandest gambol’ers were on hand Monday night for the 33rd Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards, which recognizes outstanding achievement in dance on Broadway and in film each season. The ceremony also honored Broadway legend Joel Grey as well as film and theater producer Harvey Weinstein at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York. The gala evening was hosted by Two-Time Drama Desk Award nominated actress Christina Bianco. Theater Pizzazz’s JK Clarke was on hand to capture the gala red carpet arrival of all the stars. And Marilyn Lester had a few words to say too!
by Marilyn Lester
Since 1982, when Fred helped establish the Awards to honor his sister, Adele, the Astaire Awards have honored outstanding dance and choreography on stage and in film. Hosting this star-studded 2015 edition were Kristin Chenoweth, Bernadette Peters, Liza Minnelli, and several other major female personalities embodied in the very talented impressionist-actor-singer, Christina Bianco.
The awards – presented by the likes of Tovah Feldshuh, Richard Thomas, Bebe Neuwirth, Lee Roy Reams, and others – were interspersed with dance numbers from “On The Town,” “On The 20th Century” and “Finding Neverland” with additional numbers “Popularity,” presented by American Dance Machine for the 21st Century and “Change Partners and Dance,” with ballroom couples from sponsor Fred Astaire Dance studios. A rousing finale, “Motown,” was energetically danced by students from Studio Bleu Dance Center, Ashburn, VA.
Special achievement awards went to Harvey Weinstein for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theater and Film (presented by Mia McMichaels), and the Douglass Watt Lifetime Achievement Award to Joel Grey (presented by a very emotional Jennifer Grey, subbing for an ailing Sutton Foster). Competitive award-winners were: Leanne Cope (“American In Paris”) for Outstanding Female Dancer, Tony Yazbeck (“On The Town”) tying with Robert Fairchild (“American in Paris”) for Outstanding Male Dancer, Akram Khan (“Desert Dancer”) for Outstanding Choreography in a Feature Film, and Joshua Bergasse (“On The Town”) tying with Christopher Wheeldon (“American In Paris”) for Outstanding Choreography on Broadway. An additional “surprise award” went to the cast of “On The 20th Century” for Outstanding Ensemble dancing.