SOUND OFF: 2013 BroadwayWorld Cabaret Awards
Last month, BroadwayWorld was privileged to present not one, but two exceptional entertainment experiences to continue the year-long celebration of our 10th anniversary begun with the simply spectacular BROADWAYWORLD.COM VISITS OZ in January, first with the 2013 BroadwayWorld Cabaret Awards on Sunday, February 23, and next with FLY: A TRIBUTE TO DAMON INTRABARTOLO on Monday, February 24. Today we recount the Cabaret Awards.
The sensational array of talent and artistry on hand for the 2013 BroadwayWorld Cabaret Awards was only eclipsed by the plethora of powerful, memorable, moving and passionate performances in the show itself, many now available to view.
BroadwayWorld's chief cabaret reviewer Stephen Hanks hosted the 2013 BroadwayWorld Cabaret Awards for the umpteenth time, once again offering his idiosyncratic and enthusiastic take on the scene as it was seen in 2013 and providing a specialty song filled with humor and love to kick off the awards show - utilizing "Ya Got Trouble" from THE MUSIC MAN as the basis for his uniquely designed performance piece. Hanks then acted as amiable emcee for the duration of the two-hour-plus evening, announcing the various categories as well as their nominees and subsequent winners. Among the personalities showcased in the evening were Tony Award winners, cabaret legends, up and coming talent and much, much more.
Representing 2013 BroadwayWorld Cabaret award-winning 54 Below show SONDHEIM UNPLUGGED, 2009 NEXT TO NORMAL Tony Award winner Alice Ripley served up a delectable cocktail deriving from the top-tier of the oeuvre of the modern musical theatre master himself, Stephen Sondheim, byway of a lovably idiosyncratic and wacky take on one of COMPANY's most well-known and celebrated songs, "The Ladies Who Lunch". Ripley even offered yours truly the opportunity to take part in the proceedings and I relished the chance to do so, byway of providing her with a well-earned libation during the song - which she then utilized to guffaw-inducing hilarity and poignancy, particularly enhanced by the conceit of the song itself.
Continuing on the more comedic side of the proceedings, Susie Mosher had the audience rolling in the aisles with her ribald and risqué monologue, while Jackie Hoffman offered a positively - or, perhaps given the personality trait she is most remembered for, negatively - brilliant take on her various roles in musicals over the last few decades. After all, the alto line of HAIRSPRAY's show-stopping finale "You Can't Stop The Beat" is perhaps not its most fondly referenced musical glory!
Additionally, the comedic quotient was amplified further still by a specially-crafted video created by Laura Benanti - with special guest appearance by Andrew Rannells - that not only showed off the star's lithe limbs in a bikini, but provided some outrageous laughs and entertainment value to the nth, too.
The laughs were met with a cool hipster twist by some moments of particularly delicious delectability thanks to Jonathan Whitton's ingenuous mash-up of Radiohead and Britney Spears (oh, yes - you read that right). "Creep", "Toxic" and "Gimme More" made for a masterful musical melange worth much more than their popular pop affectations - or, in the case of Radiohead, utmost rock reverence - would seem to allow. Accordingly, Whitton rightly took home a 2013 BroadwayWorld Cabaret Award for Best Male Vocalist for his recent solo show BLACK SHEEP CARNIVAL and certainly possesses a blindingly bright future going by the sonorous, sexy and spine-tingling sounds he put forth. In a word: wow.
Another up-and-coming cabaret name who made a solid impression was Marissa Mulder, who imbued her moment in the spotlight with a committed, moving rendition of a familiar standard, while rising star Carole J. Bufford soared much the same in her well-chosen selection, expertly showing off her anomalous instrument.
The stars were in full splendor to behold, as well, with Tony Award-winning contemporary musical theatre songwriting icon Jason Robert Brown, who sang his heartbreaking ode to the children lost in the Sandy Hook massacre, tellingly titled "26 Names". It would be impossible to witness the songwriter himself singing this song without it eliciting a tear or ten from the viewer. Incredible.
So, too, did musical theatre mainstays Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway take the stage for solo songs and a duet, amply exhibiting their crystalline, clarion, masterfully marrying vocal treasures - and how! Sister Liz first presented a reprise of her beloved ANASTASIA anthem "Journey To The Past" accompanied by another famous twosome, none other than ROCKY and RAGTIME songwriters Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. Sister Ann then treated the audience to a sumptuous tribute to jazz legend Sarah Vaughan via an impassioned and idiosyncratic "Send In The Clowns". The two teamed up for the MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG stunner "Our Time", as well, displaying their dexterous harmonic abilities.
Other memorable moments: beginning the performance highlights of the night, Jane Monheit gave great gravitas to Gershwin and Champagne Pam gave a tip of the hat to her father with a touching musical moment at the show's close. Also, Nina Hennessey jazzed up her solo spotlight song with some help from her drummer hubby, while Billie Roe wrought all the downtrodden drama, palpable angst and smoky, insinuating jazz of the songs of Tom Waits with her solo turn.
Then, there is Broadway baby and recent FOLLIES showstopper Terri White. To say that what she did on the stage of Joe's Pub is the very definition of bringing down the house would be putting it mildly! Much, much too mildly. A powerhouse.
Special mention must also be made to Bill Zeffiro, who led a spunky twosome along with Jon Burr on bass, providing the assured musical direction and accompaniment for the evening.
Next time, we will shine a light on Monday night's festivities, when BroadwayWorld showed its rock side with an at turns wild, raucous, rocking and winning evening paying homage to recently deceased composer Damon Intrabartolo titled FLY! Stay tuned until then!
Photo Credits: Walter McBride