Stephen Schwartz & Dee Dee Bridgewater Present at Bistro Awards Honoring Ben Vereen Tonight
The 29th Annual Bistro Awards gala, set to take place tonight, March 4, has announced two new presenters. Stephen Schwartz, the Oscar, Tony, Grammy, and Golden Globe-winning composer/lyricist, who wrote the scores to such musicals as Pippin, Wicked, Godspell, and The Magic Show, will present Ben Vereen, the Tony Award-winning actor-singer-dancer, with the Lifetime Achievement Award. And Dee Dee Bridgewater, who recently starred as Billie Holiday in the acclaimed Off-Broadway play "Lady Day" and who can be listened to twice weekly in her own programs on the all-jazz nonprofit radio station WBGO, will present Amy Niles, acting president and CEO of the Newark-based station, with its award.
Fourteen other awards will be given out as well. The celebration-which recognizes outstanding achievement in New York cabaret, jazz, and comedy-will take place at Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd St. (between 7th & 8th avenues).
The evening will be emceed by multi-MAC and Bistro award-winning singer Jeff Harnar and will be directed by Shellen Lubin. As is the Bistro tradition, the evening will feature performances from most of this year's Bistro-winning artists.
Mr. Vereen, who won Tony and Drama Desk Awards in 1973 for his performance in "Pippin" and has gone on to a busy career in film, television, theatre, and concerts, receiving many other awards and nominations along the way, is being honored with the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award.
Veteran performer Anita Gillette is being honored for her Major Engagement at the Metropolitan Room. Ms. Gillette, who has been in the business for 55 years, only recently made her cabaret debut, drawing on her life and career for source material. She has appeared in more than fourteen Broadway shows and over a dozen films, in addition to her extensive work in television. WBGO, the Newark-based public radio station, is being cited for its dedication to the popularization of jazz and related musical genres.
Other Bistro Awards go to vocalist Karen Wyman, who appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show as a teenager and who recently returned to cabaret performing after being largely absent from the scene since the 1970s, and Broadway performer Robert Creighton, who entertained cabaret audiences last year with his celebration of music and joy.
An award will be presented to Duplex staff members Thomas Honeck, general manager, and Lisa Moss, assistant manager, who, as a creative team, go beyond their formal job duties to devise innovative shows and nurture new performing and songwriting talent.
A number of outstanding vocalists are in the spotlight this year: international jazz artist Sharón Clark, soprano Jillian Laurain, the droll and astute Elaine St. George, and rhythm and blues singer William Blake. And longtime cabaret artist Vickie Phillips is being recognized for her highly personal and illuminating Song Interpretations.
Jazz singer and trumpeter Bria Skonberg and singer-pianist Eric Yves Garcia are being honored in the categories of Jazz Artist and Singer-Instrumentalist, respectively. Tanya Moberly is being recognized in the Theme Show category for her offering "I Love New York Songwriters," and Billie Roe will take home an award in the Tribute Show category for "1978 NYC Underground," her homage to Tom Waits. Amy Wolk is receiving an award as Musical Comedy Performer.
The Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award, given to an outstanding performer on the rise, and named after Back Stage's co-founder, co-publisher, and first cabaret critic, goes to multi-talented Nathan Chang.
The gala event will be held on Tuesday, March 4 at Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd Street. A Champagne reception for Bistro recipients and Premium Ticket holders begins at 5 pm, followed by the awards presentation and show starting at 6:30 pm. Producer Sherry Eaker is presenting the annual event, along with the other members of the Bistro Awards Committee: Kevin Scott Hall (Edge Media Network, BistroAwards.com), Roy Sander (BistroAwards.com, chairman of the Advisory Board of MAC), Robert Windeler (BistroAwards.com), and Mark Dundas Wood (simplyshowbiz.com, BistroAwards.com). Ms. Eaker, who heads the Bistro Committee, is the former longtime Editor-in-Chief of Back Stage and the producer of the event since its inception.
The evening is sponsored by ASCAP, with in-kind support from Branson B. Champagne, Banfi Wines, and StageBuddy.com. General Admission tickets are $75; Premium Tickets are $125, which includes the pre-show Champagne reception, priority seating, and the ticket-buyers' names listed in the program. A two-drink minimum applies to both ticket categories, and all attendees are invited to the "After Bistros" supper party as guests of the Bistros. To purchase tickets, go to www.BistroAwards.com. For additional information: 917-239-5467.
A complete list of the winners being recognized for their outstanding work follows:
Ben Vereen / Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award
Anita Gillette / Major Engagement / Metropolitan Room
Nathan Chang / Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award
William Blake / Vocalist / Birdland, Joe's Pub
Sharón Clark / Vocalist / Metropolitan Room
Robert Creighton / Entertainer / 54 Below
Eric Yves Garcia / Singer-Instrumentalist / Chez Josephine, Laurie Beechman Theatre
Thomas Honeck and Lisa Moss / Special Award, Innovative and nurturing creative team / The Duplex
Jillian Laurain / Vocalist / Metropolitan Room
Tanya Moberly / Theme Show / "I Love New York Songwriters" / Don't Tell Mama
Vickie Phillips / Song Interpretation / Don't Tell Mama
Billie Roe / Tribute Show / "1978 NYC Underground" / Metropolitan Room, The Duplex
Elaine St. George / Vocalist / Don't Tell Mama
Bria Skonberg / Jazz Artist / Café Carlyle, Iridium, Dizzy's Club Coca ColaA
my Wolk / Musical Comedy Performer / The Duplex
Karen Wyman / Acclaimed Return to Cabaret / Metropolitan Room
WBGO / Special Award, Outstanding Programming