by Linda Amiel Burns
The New York Cabaret community filled their new glitzy venue Sony Hall for a festive evening on March 26, celebrating the best of cabaret and song in over 26 categories from vocalists to impersonations to piano bar entertainers to songs. Having been on the MAC Board for over 16 years, I know that it certainly takes a village to put on and coordinate a major evening such as this. Many kudos to Producer Julie Miller, Director Lennie Watts, Stage Manager Amy Wolk and the rest of the Production Team for this herculean effort. Bobby Peaco served as Musical Director and pianist for the MAC Awards Band with Matt Scharfglass on bass (who won in the category of Ensemble Instrumentalist) and Don Kelly on Drum (who was a nominee).
The show opened with Sam Bolen performing “I Prefer Sunshine” from the musical Midnight at the Never Get, a show that began at Don’t Tell Mama and transferred for a run at The York Theater. The whole team, including Mark Sonnnenblick who wrote the music, lyrics and book, was honored with a MAC Board of Directors Award. Cabaret favorite Karen Mason, who has appeared on Broadway in Sunset Boulevard, was deeply touched with her Lifetime Achievement Award and sang a fun version of “Karen’s Back in Town” (with special parody lyrics by Barry Kleinbort). Also honored was composer, performer Joe Iconis, introduced by Sidney Myer, who recently had his dream come true with his show Be More Chill recently opened on Broadway. His acceptance speech for the Board of Director’s Award was sincere with his special touch of humor. Joe sang and played one of his high-powered numbers and also wrote “The Goodbye Song” for the In Memoriam section of the show.
The Ruth Kurtzman Benefit Series Award was given to Ben Cameron who created and hosts Broadway Sessions at the Beechman Theatre that recently celebrated 10 years of weekly shows that support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. The Hanson Award is given to a performer who has done great work but never been nominated or properly recognized, and this year went to the very deserving Theresa Fischer. Accompanied by her music director, Paul Chamlin, Theresa sang a touching “Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair.”
Like the Oscars this year, there was no host and it helped the show to move along quickly. There were many prestigious presenters who kept their intros short and the acceptance speeches of the winners were moving, and appropriate and some entertained like Female Vocalist Josephine Sanges who sang a lovely “That Old Black Magic” and Female Debut winner, Sierra Rein, with the upbeat “Come-on-a-my House.”
I was pleased to see that Ricky Ritzel won again for his delightful Broadway Series at Don’t Tell Mama in the Recurring Series category and was particularly proud of Evelyn Sullivan and Jason Ellis (both graduates of The Singing Experience) who won in the Duo/Group Category at 53 Above.
However, certainly the most popular winner of the evening was Sidney Myer who won in the Major Artist -Male category and is so beloved in the community, always wowing the audience with his unique song interpretations. He sang Francesca Blumenthals’s funny and clever “Between Men” and accepted the award with his usual grace and style. The perfect closer was winner Natalie Douglas who won for Major Artist -Female and ended with the perfect song for all the dreamers out there. The song “If I Can Dream” was delivered with intensity and Natalie’s gorgeous voice filled the immense Hall. This song was written by Walter Earl Brown and recorded by Elvis Presley for his 1968 comeback special.
The best part of the evening was the gathering of so many incredible people – musicians, singers, performers, lighting and sound engineers, composers, writers, etc – who make up the cabaret community and seeing the camaraderie, friendships, support and admiration that this special group of talented people from many disciplines have for each other.
Photos: Maryann Lopinto
Visit: www. MACNYC.com for more informantion.
The complete list of the Winners in each category is listed below.
MAJOR ARTIST – FEMALE
MAJOR ARTIST – MALE
NEW YORK DEBUT – FEMALE
NEW YORK DEBUT – MALE
MAJOR IMPERSONATION/CHARACTERIZATION/DRAG ARTIST
MUSICAL COMEDY PERFORMER
IRA LEE COLLINGS
EVELYN SULLIVAN & JASON ELLIS
MARCUS SIMEONE, LINA KOUTRAKOS, SEAN HARKNESS
RICKY RITZEL’S BROADWAY
MAMA’S NEXT BIG ACT!
MATT SCHARFGLASS, bass
PIANO BAR/RESTAURANT INSTRUMENTALIST
PIANO BAR/RESTAURANT SINGING ENTERTAINER – MALE
TOMMY J. DOSE
PIANO BAR/RESTAURANT SINGING ENTERTAINER – FEMALE
RECORDING (LaMott Friedman Award)
SHEREE SANO, Live Acts
MARISSA MULDER, Two Tickets Left
“BEST AS I CAN”
Music by Alex Rybeck, lyrics by Bob Levy
Music and lyrics by Brett Kristofferson