MAC Awards Overview

Jeff Harnar (Best Director Award) presented by KT Sullivan, Lee Roy Reams

 

by Matt Smith

 

“Cabaret — there’s nothing like it,” exclaimed performer Robin Kradles, taking the stage to accept her award for Best Drag Artist. “I mean, where else can you meet hundreds of people brimming with talent, eventually get to call many of them friends, and not get stabbed in the back even once?!”

 

Robin Kradles, Doris Dear

Ruby Rims (Lifetime Achievement Award)

Sharon McNight (Lifetime Achievement Award)

Such whimsical wit defined the mood at B. B. Kings Bar and Grill, which was in full swing last night, when the spirited Manhattan Association of Cabaret and Clubs (MAC) Awards were presented at the famed jazz venue for the 32nd time.

From Lee Roy Reams and Nikki M. James to Sidney Myer and Jinkx Monsoon, everyone who’s anyone in the song-and-dance community turned up to toast the best of the best of the New York cabaret… and oh, was it an evening to remember!

For one, the winners’ speeches were inspired. Parents, children, spouses, club owners, studio heads, and musical directors past and present were all among those on the short list of acknowledgements; other victors offered expert, sound advice, from hugging your mother to living in the moment to never letting go of your dream.

Themes of collaboration, kindness and joy permeated through the evening, amid punchy performances from each of the winners, ranging from Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” to “Guilty” by Randy Newman to “Meantime,” as originally performed by Liza Minnelli, to “For Forever” from Broadway smash Dear Evan Hansen.

The one pause in the revelry came, appropriately, when Ricky Ritzel took the stage to pay tribute to Stu Hamstra, Barbara Cook, Richard Barclay and others we lost throughout the last year. Special mention was given to Barry Levitt, for whom the award for Best Musical Director will be posthumously named in his honor.

Carol Shedlin (Hanson Award)

 

Students from Marymount Manhattan College’s newly established cabaret program, run and taught by the extraordinary MAC President himself, Lennie Watts, were also on hand to serenade with a song, sending off the dearly departed in the way that would want to be sent off.

Of note, the Lifetime Achievement Awards were bestowed upon cabaret royalty Ruby Rims and Sharon McNight, distinctive in that both garnered trophies at the inaugural MAC Awards ceremony in 1986, while performer Carol Shedlin took home the coveted Hanson Award, given to a cabaret performer who demonstrates talent and proficiency in the art through a prolonged period of time. Furthermore, longtime celebrated author James Gavin received the Board of Directors Award.

Those Girls (Best Group Award)

Lennie Watts (Revue – Mama’s Next Big Act)

Sean Harkness (Ensemble Instrumentalist)

Ann Kittredge (Female Debut)-David Baida (Male Debut)

 

In short, once again, we toasted the past and present with vim and verve, while looking toward the future with humor and hope. Check out the night’s big winners below, marked with an asterisk among the rest of the nominees in each category, and scroll through our extensive, colorful photo gallery, to see for yourself why — to quote the aforementioned Gavin in accepting his award — despite chatter of the art form being endangered, “cabaret is the hardiest weed in the asphalt!”

NOMINEES AND WINNERS

SHOW OF THE YEAR
**NATALIE DOUGLAS: TRIBUTES RESIDENCY
Created by and starring Natalie Douglas, musical direction by Mark Hartman and Brian Nash
COLE ESCOLA: HELP! I’M STUCK
Created, written, and performed by Cole Escola Joe’s Pub
A LIFE BEHIND BARS
Written and performed by Dan Ruth, directed by Tanya Moberly
THE SKIVVIES
Created by and starring Nick Cearley and Lauren Molina
THANK YOU FOR YOUR LOVE: OUR CELEBRATION OF TOM JONES & HARVEY SCHMIDT
Starring Carole Demas and Sarah Rice, directed by Charles Repole, musical director Joe Goodrich, produced by Stuart J. Allyn

FEMALE VOCALIST
SALLY DARLING, Love Lust & Longing
**DAWN DEROW, My Ship: Songs from 1941
MARNIE KLAR, Bedtime Stories
WENDY SCHERL, New SCHERL in Town
LISA VIGGIANO, Three’s a Charm
LISA YAEGER, Jersey Girl

MALE VOCALIST
**JOSHUA LANCE DIXON, Pack of One
RICHARD HOLBROOK, The Many Moods of Christmas
JEFF MACAULEY, Hollywood Party: Movie Songs 1928-1936
KIM DAVID SMITH, Morphium Kabarett

MAJOR ARTIST – FEMALE
CAROLE J. BUFFORD, Fearless Females of the 1960s
**NATALIE DOUGLAS, Tribute shows (Sammy Davis, Jr., Linda Ronstadt, Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey)
TANYA MOBERLY, Six Different Shows, Six Different Musicians, Six Friday Nights
STACY SULLIVAN, The Sultry Side of Cole; The Fever of Miss Peggy Lee

MAJOR ARTIST – MALE
ERIC COMSTOCK, Saturdays @6PM (20 varying performances)
SEAN HARKNESS, “Duos” series, Japan Tour 2017
**JEFF HARNAR, Easy to Love; Sammy Cahn: All The Way; The 1959 Broadway Songbook

NEW YORK DEBUT – FEMALE
CAITLIN FAHEY, Party of One
BECCA C. KIDWELL, A Song & Its Girl
**ANN KITTREDGE, It’s About Time; One Night Only
KATI NEIHEISEL, Among the Stars

NEW YORK DEBUT – MALE
**DAVID BAIDA, Unexpected Surprise
BYRON ST. CYR, 4600 Mithra: My New Orleans
JEREMY SUSSMAN, Jeremy Sussman Sings More of the American Songbook and Other Curiosities

CELEBRITY ARTIST
**KAREN MASON, Mason at Mama’s in May; Mason’s Makin’Music; CD Release Show
BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL, Feinstein’s/54 Below
KT SULLIVAN, Colored Lights; You’re the Top

IMPERSONATION/CHARACTERIZATION/DRAG ARTIST
DOROTHY BISHOP, The Dozen Divas Show
**ROBIN KRADLES (Richard Becker), Gambling on Love
GINGER MINJ, Sweet T; Crossdresser for Christ: The Musical
JINKX MONSOON, Jinkx Sings Everything

MUSICAL COMEDY PERFORMER
IRA LEE COLLINGS, Life Is a Song—So, Why Not Sing It!
**GRETCHEN REINHAGEN, #iBlamePaleo
AMY WOLK, Hungry Like the Wolk
SPOKEN WORD ARTIST
**DAN RUTH, A Life Behind Bars
NANCY WITTER, Growing Up McDougal

DUO/GROUP
DAVID MAIOCCO AND CHUCK SWEENEY, Lee Squared – An evening with Liberace and Miss Peggy Lee
**THOSE GIRLS (Eve Eaton, Rachel Hanser, Karen Mack, Wendy A. Russell), Those Girls; Those Girls Unplugged
UNEXPECTED TRIO (Meg Flather, Rosemary Loar, and Tracy Stark)

MAJOR DUO/GROUP
**ERIC COMSTOCK AND BARBARA FASANO, Various shows
CAROLE DEMAS AND SARAH RICE, Thank You For Your Love
MARCUS SIMEONE AND SEAN HARKNESS, Blue

RECURRING SERIES
AMERICAN POPULAR SONG SOCIETY SERIES, Produced by Linda Amiel Burns
IT’S JUST A NUMBER, Created, produced, and directed by Bobbie Horowitz
OPEN MIC AT THE MET, Produced and hosted by Deb Berman and Susan Winter
**RICKY RITZEL’S BROADWAY, Created and produced by Ricky Ritzel, staging and choreography by Jay Rogers and Aaron Morishita
SALON, Mark Janas, founder, artistic director, host; Tanya Moberly, executive producer
SPOTLIGHT ON YOU OPEN MIC, Created, produced, and hosted by Natasha Castillo and John Koprowski

REVUE OR SPECIAL PRODUCTION
LIVE TO TELL: MY LIFE, MADONNA’S SONGS, Created by Kim Sutton, Steven Ray Watkins, and Lennie Watts; starring Kim Sutton
**MAMA’S NEXT BIG ACT, Produced by Don’t Tell Mama and Lennie Watts
METROSTAR TALENT CHALLENGE, Produced by Joseph Macchia, Tom Gamblin, Beck Lee, Bernie Furshpan
TOGETHER: 2017 CABARET AWARD-NOMINATED VOCALISTS, Featuring Celia Berk, Sally Darling, Meg Flather, Josephine Sanges, Lisa Viggiano, directed by Jeff Harnar, musical direction by John M. Cook

EMCEE
NATASHA CASTILLO, Spotlight on You Open Mic
BOBBIE HOROWITZ, It’s Just a Number
**LENNIE WATTS, Mama’s Next BIG Act!
AMY WOLK, I Only Have Lies For You

DIRECTOR
**JEFF HARNAR
LINA KOUTRAKOS
TANYA MOBERLY
BARRY LEVITT MAESTRO AWARD FOR MUSICAL DIRECTOR
IAN HERMAN
RICK JENSEN
DARYL KOJAK
**TRACY STARK
STEVEN RAY WATKINS

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
JASON ELLIS, Don’t Tell Mama, 53 Above
ABBY JUDD, Laurie Beechman
JONNY MERCADO, Metropolitan Room, Don’t Tell Mama
**JEAN-PIERRE PERREAUX, Metropolitan Room
COLLETTE BLACK, Don’t Tell Mama

ENSEMBLE INSTRUMENTALIST
**SEAN HARKNESS, guitar
 RITT HENN, bass
RAY MARCHICA, percussion
MATT SCHARFGLASS, bass
DAVID SILLIMAN, percussion
PIANO BAR/RESTAURANT SINGING ENTERTAINER – MALE
JOE ARDIZZONE, Brandy’s
BOBBY BELFRY, Brandy’s
SEAN BERNARDI, Brandy’s
**TOMMY J. DOSE, Don’t Tell Mama
PAUL PILCZ, Don’t Tell Mama

PIANO BAR/RESTAURANT SINGING ENTERTAINER – FEMALE
**ELAINE BRIER, Don’t Tell Mama
MICHELLE DOWDY, Don’t Tell Mama
TARA MARTINEZ, Don’t Tell Mama
LAUREN MUFSON, Brandy’s
LAURA PAVLES, Don’t Tell Mama

PIANO BAR INSTRUMENTALIST
NATE BUCCIERI, Duplex, Don’t Tell Mama, Brandy’s
**GERRY DIEFFENBACH, Don’t Tell Mama, Duplex
WILLIAM TN HALL, Duplex, Don’t Tell Mama, Brandy’s
MICHAEL ISAACS, Don’t Tell Mama, Duplex, Brandy’s
JOE REGAN, Don’t Tell Mama

LAMOTT FRIEDMAN AWARD
STEARNS MATTHEWS: “December Songs”
BOB MUNDY: “Love to Me”
PAUL ROLNICK: “Shoot for the Moon:”
**JOSEPHINE SANGES: “Finding Beauty: Celebrating Ann Hampton Callaway”

MAJOR RECORDING
JUDY BARNETT: “Lust Loss Love”
**KAREN MASON: “It’s About Time”
DOREEN MONTALVO: “American Soul Latin Heart”

SONG
**I CAN TELL TIME
MOUNTAIN IN THE SKY
NEVERTHELESS (SHE PERSISTED)
PLESANTVILLE
STAY AWHILE

COMEDY/NOVELTY SONG
APPLY
**GO INTO FINANCE
HEY, HEY, IT’S OK
MISTER PROMISED-ME-THE-MOON QUIET

WINGSPAN ARTS MAC CABARET STUDENT
Matthew Duer

BOARD OF DIRECTORS AWARD
James Gavin

HANSON AWARD
Carol Shedlin

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Ruby Rims, Sharon McNight

 

The 32nd Annual MAC Awards were held at B. B. Kings Blues Club and Grill (237 W. 42nd Street) on March 27. The celebratory bash was produced by Julie Miller, directed by Lennie Watts, and featured musical direction from Tracy Stark. This year’s ceremony was dedicated to the memory of John Koprowski, founding MAC treasurer and longtime MAC Board member, who passed away on December 15, 2017.

For more information, including news and events regarding upcoming acts of the night’s biggest winners, please visit www.macnyc.com.

Photo Credit: Maryann Lopinto

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