MAC, the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs has been around since 1983 and continues to grow and nourish the many who work in the nightlife entertainment world and its audience. Current President Barry Levitt made some graceful comments and also showed his own skill at the keyboard. The MAC Board of Directors includes such cabaret supporters as the gentlemanly David Kenney whose 9 pm Sunday night radio show on WBAI 99.5 FM, "Everything Old Is New Again," has for many years featured cabaret artists on recordings and sometimes live in the studio, singing and being interviewed. President Emeritus Jamie de Roy continues her delightful series of cable TV shows, recordings, and live variety shows featuring fine performers of song and comedy.
Jamie and singer Kim Cea, both looking glamourous and glittery, presented the awards for outstanding new songs. They weren't the first presented, but since the song is what cabaret is all about, let's start there. Ray Jessel won the special Musical Material Award for his hilarious song "The Short Term Memory Loss Blues." He was not present to accept - he didn't have a short term memory loss about when the awards were scheduled, it's just that he lives and works in California. It's too bad he couldn't be there, because he also won another award as Musical Comedy Performer and probably would have had one of the most amusing speeches of the night.
Singer Lucille Carr-Kaffashan won the Hanson Award. The achievement award chosen by the magazine Time Out New York, typically presented to a longtime veteran, was bestowed upon Maude Maggart
The male New York Debut Award went to Ritt Henn for his show "A Man And His Bass." Female Vocalist statue went to Natalie Douglas, who has quite a collection of them, and the Male Vocalist went to Brandon Cutrell, who has quite a presence and following at the Duplex. Director of his show there (and many others), Phil Geoffrey Bond, won the Director Award as well as the award with the longest title, Variety Production/ Recurring
We're not done naming winners yet (you can see why it took four hours). Chuck Sweeney was feted for his Peggy Lee "Impersonation," Nancy Witter got the nod for Stand-Up Comedy and gave us a taste of it, Marcus Simeone and Eva Ladas were the choice for Vocal or Musical Comedy Duo/Group (they are not a group, they're a duo as their show titled 2 proves). Marcus serenaded the crowd with tunes by Billy Joel ("New York State Of Mind") and Janis Ian ("She Must Be Beautiful"); Eva was out of town. Thomas Honeck won in the Technical Director category. Last awarded, but certainly not least (she's terrific), the prestigious Major Engagement award went to Karen
And there were still more performers!! A very skilled pianist "discovered" by MAC President Barry Levitt, Jon Weber, whose fingers flew furiously and fantastically over "Swanee" and a Fats Waller specialty "I'm Going To See My Ma," was a hit. There was Baby Jane Dexter with her "Everybody Hurts." Jeanne MacDonald offered "If You Go Away." We had a long medley of "dance" numbers from the talented trio in the long-running Singing Astaire (Eric Comstock, Hilary Kole, and Christopher Gines). KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler were there with a different and very effective version of "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from their show honoring composer Jule Styne's centennial. Speaking of composer's 100th birthday anniversaries, there were two very different Harold Arlen showstoppers: The Manhattan Rhythm Kings did a top-notch fun version of "The Jitterbug" (the big number cut from The Wizard Of Oz) and Sara Ramirez, currently appearing in the Broadway hit Spamalot won much applause with "The Man That Got Away." The evening was capped with a group vocal of "Sing, Sing, Sing" - and how they all did!! Wow and a half.
Hosting duties and many laughs were provided by Don't Tell Mama's Ron Poole and the incomparable Sidney Myer, who also sang one of his trademark numbers near the beginning. Substituting for announced co-host Angela LaGreca was Richard Skipper as Carol Channing. Strolling through the audience, "Carol" inspected and threw diamonds, chatted up MAC photographer and ubiquitous cabaretophile Maryann Lopinto and talented songwriter Francesca Blumenthal, among others. But nowhere to be found were Tony Danza or Patti Lupone who were originally advertised as performers. I guess you can't have everything. We got a lot. (I didn't get a diamond, however. Maybe next time.)
For more information on MAC and its programs and membership, visit www.macnyc.com. Click on our Sound Advice column for CD reviews by the aforementioned winners Natalie Douglas, Leslie Anderson & Ricky Ritzel as well as talented nominee Lisa Asher. This week's column will include reviews of albums by winners Maude Maggart, Ray Jessel and another worth-watching/listening-to nominee, Shawn Ryan.
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