By Brian Scott Lipton
Photos/Video: Sandi Durell
Perhaps we truly cannot go “back to before,” but Broadway songwriters Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty saw 30 years pass before their eyes in just a few hours on Monday, November 24 as they were celebrated at the York Theatre Company’s 23rd annual Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala at a posh private midtown club.
The ultra-talented pair followed in the footsteps of such legends as Stephen Sondheim, Harold Prince, and Cy Coleman in receiving the Award, which they insisted on re-naming “The Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre Up to Now,” given that they are still working hard on numerous projects (including a stage version of the animated film “Anastasia,” for which they penned the score).
During the program, hosted by dear pal Liz Callaway, (who provided the singing voice of Anastasia in the film), Ahrens and Flaherty received heartfelt tributes from good friend Sheldon Harnick, collaborators Terrence McNally, Susan Stroman, and Thomas Meehan, Hammerstein’s grandson, Will Hammerstein, and the York’s artistic director James Morgan (who reminded folks that the York will present a revised version of the pair’s “My Favorite Year” this weekend as part of its “Musicals in Mufti” series).
Equally important, they – and the audience – were treated to nearly 20 songs from the team’s many collaborations, including “Ragtime,” “Once on This Island,” and “Rocky,” beautifully performed by Corey Cott, Jason Danieley, Quentin Earl Darrington, Judy Kaye, Ramin Karimloo, Andy Karl, Marin Mazzie, Kenita Miller, Margo Seibert, Bobby Steggert, and the Broadway Dreams Foundation Choir.
Prior to the ceremony, Theater Pizzazz spoke with Ahrens, Flaherty, and some of the evening’s participants. Take a look!