All Photos by Stephen Sorokoff
“Was I supposed to campaign?” Joked eternally pixyish Anita Gillette as she accepted her Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC) award for Celebrity Artist. “This community is solid and friendly. I’m just stunned.” Cady Huffman presented the award to her and later Ms. Gillette returned to do a segment from her award-winning act. She hilariously reminisced about a down period in her career when she went into “real estate” and became an inept rent collector in Los Angles. Then she performed a sweet “Life is Just A Bowl of Cherries” and followed that with a leggy dance exit off stage.
Host Terese Genecco
The 28th annual MAC Awards were held at the packed Times Square nightclub B.B. King’s. Competitive awards in 25 categories ranging from piano bar entertainer to directing, recording, comedy and drag were handed out. Winners who were present later returned to perform. A number of honorary awards were also given. The spectrum of entertainment figures recognized ranged from the celebrated to those just beginning their careers. That this is an inclusive festivity and collective was an ever-present theme.
Lasting three and a half hours with no intermission, the show remained buoyant throughout its length and never flagged. This was a testament to the sharp presentational talents of producer Julie Miller, director Lennie Watts and stage manager Amy Wolk. Musical director Don Rebic on piano led the band with Jeff Ganz on acoustic guitar, Daniel Glass on drums, all of whom kept it all musically vibrant.
“Applause” from the eponymous Broadway musical mashed up with Lady Gaga’s recent pop tune “Applause” was the brash opening number performed by the show’s very talented and funny host, vocalist and comedian Terese Genecco. She reappeared throughout each time clad in a different over the top male outfit.
Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
Linda Lavin and Presenter Jim Caruso
“After years of performing in clubs called upstairs and downstairs she finally elevated herself to street level!” Joked ubiquitous presenter and performer Jim Caruso in his eloquent introduction to Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Linda Lavin. “This is a true honor.” She paid tribute to cabaret impresario Jan Wallman, “Thank you for changing my life.” Seated at a piano she then performed very emotional renditions of “Long Ago and Far Away” and “It Amazes Me.”
The awards for New York debut male and female went to seasoned performers. “I feel like a kid!” said Mary Lahti. In the mold of Mel Torme, Gary Crawford delightfully performed a warm jazzy song, “Make Yourself At Home.”
Two scholarships for Performing Arts education were awarded to young girls from Wingspan Arts, Jenna Barricklo and Sofia Bryant. Ms. Bryant’s performance of the old show business anthem, “I’ve Got to Be Me,” was quite thrilling and showed the torch is being passed on.
Duo/Group Winners Tanya Holt and Marcus Simeone
The ample old style drag performer Ruby Rims wittily presented the award for Impersonation/Characterization/Drag Artist to Roger Antony Mapes. In garish makeup and a huge beehive/bouffant he did a rousing inspirational song from his Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour.
With Sean Harkness on guitar playing a somber tune, Rickey Ritzel announced and described those in the cabaret world had died in the past year while slides of their images were projected on screens on each side of the stage. Included was MAC co-founder Erv Raible to whom the show was dedicated. Earlier those screens projected and continued to project the evening’s presentations.
“She’s been performing for 70 years and she didn’t start in a cradle! She was on Johnny Carson 76 times. The lady is truly possessed.” Enthused legendary costume designer Bob Mackie in his introduction of Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Marilyn Maye. “Enough talk! I’ll just sing!” Glancing at lyric sheets on a music stand she did a funny topical special material parody song. “I’ll know it in a year. I’ll be 86 soon. Shhh—don’t tell anyone.” Then she sang an awesome version of “Here’s To Life.”
Best Recording and Best Major Artist winner Marissa Mulder
“That’s New York! Come out and support us!” exclaimed youthful Piano Bar Instrumentalist winner Nate Buccieri. That summed up the spirit of the event.
Other awards were:
2014 Board of Directors Award for the Eugene O’Neill Cabaret and Performance Conference accepted by director John McDaniel.
The Ruth Kurtzman Benefit Award went to the Park Concert Series (formerly The Concerts for City Greens), and was accepted by its founder, Raissa Katona Bennett.
The Hanson Award went to vocalist Amy Beth Williams.
Complete list of competitive awards:
BILLIE ROE, 1978 NYC Underground
Metropolitan Room, Duplex
JONATHAN WHITTON, The Free Residency; Black Sheep Carnival
Don’t Tell Mama
MARISSA MULDER, Tom…In His Words: The Songs of Tom Waits
Metropolitan Room, Stage 72, Joe’s Pub
ANITA GILLETTE, After All
Metropolitan Room, St. James Studio (London), Cape May Stage (NJ)
NEW YORK DEBUT – FEMALE
MARY LAHTI, A Kid Again
NEW YORK DEBUT – MALE
GARY CRAWFORD, In Love With Love
Metropolitan Room, Don’t Tell Mama
MUSICAL COMEDY PERFORMER
COLLEEN MCHUGH, Calendar Girl
ROGER ANTHONY MAPES, Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour
TANYA HOLT & MARCUS SIMEONE, Quiet Storm
TWENTIETH CENTURY GIRL: THE LOIS MORTON SONGBOOK, Music and lyrics by Lois Morton, directed by Lennie Watts, musical direction and arrangements by Paul Greenwood
Don’t Tell Mama, Duplex
SALON (founder, artistic director and host, Mark Janis)
THE AMANDA MCBROOM PROJECT. Conceived and Directed by Eric Michael Gillett, songs by Amanda McBroom
Laurie Beechman Theater
SEAN HARKNESS, Guitar
Lauren Fox (Metropolitan Room); Terese Genecco’s Little Big Band (Iridium, 54 Below, Cutting Room); Karen Akers (Allen Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center), Joanne Tatham (Café Carlyle)
PIANO BAR INSTRUMENTALIST
Don’t Tell Mama, Duplex
RESTAURANT/HOTEL LOUNGE INSTRUMENTALIST
PIANO BAR/RESTAURANT SINGING ENTERTAINER – FEMALE
Don’t Tell Mama
PIANO BAR /RESTAURANT SINGING ENTERTAINER – MALE
Barb Jungr (Joe’s Pub, O’Neill Conference, 59E59), Billie Roe (Metropolitan Room, Duplex), Tanya Holt & Marcus Simeone (Metropolitan Room)
Billie Roe (Metropolitan Room, Duplex), Marquee Five (54 Below), Picture Perfect – The Music and Lyrics of Scott Evan Davis (Duplex, Catalina Jazz Club), 20th Century Girl: The Lois Morton Songbook (Don’t Tell Mama, Duplex)
Marilyn Maye, Anita Gillette, Annie Ross (Metropolitan Room)
BEST RECORDING (LaMott Friedman Award)
“Tom… In His Words”
THE RIGHT TIME by Andrew Sotomayor
Music by Douglas J. Cohen and Lyrics by Tom Toce
SHOW OF THE YEAR
ECHOES OF ETTA: A TRIBUTE TO ETTA JAMES, Created and conceived by William Blake and Michael Thomas Murray, starring William Blake, musical direction by Michael Thomas Murray Birdland, Joe’s Pub, Café Carlyle
28th Annual MAC Awards (March 27th, 2014)
B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 W. 42nd Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.macnyc.com
Running time: Three and a half hours without intermission