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A Storybook ending at the MAC Awards

Though dynamic divas such as Betty Buckley, Barbara Cook and Liza Minnelli headlined the 13th annual MAC Awards on April 5 in New York, one of the night's biggest success stories with a "Storybook" ending belonged to a guy: Tom Andersen. The pop singer- songwriter won cabaret's highest honors for Outstanding Male Vocalist and Recording of the Year (for The Journey).

These victories not only brought Andersen's overall total to 5 MAC Awards, but it made him the winningest male vocalist in the history of the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC). Also, the last male vocalist to score a win in the Recording category was Harry Connick Jr. in 1990.

Andersen, who's been compared to Johnny Mathis by the New York Times, said, "It was very exciting and such an honor. It was even a little surreal, like I was having an out-of-body experience. For instance, it was such a thrill to have Art Garfunkel present me with an award. I love him. He could've handed me a phone or a chalkboard eraser, and I would've been just as happy!"

Andersen, who's played Carnegie Hall, the Algonquin and Tavern on the Green, said it was extra-special to receive his awards at Town Hall because that's where he debuted the song "Storybook" from The Scarlet Pimpernel in 1993. "I love that song and it's become my signature piece," he said. Andersen also reprised it there at last year's Cabaret Convention to thunderous applause.

Nan Knighton, the lyricist of Scarlet Pimpernel, said, "Tom is responsible for the success of that song. Just listen to it on his CD. He's extraordinary!"

Another songwriter who cheered Andersen from the sidelines was Julie Gold, who wrote the Grammy-winning "From a Distance." Her song "The Journey" is the title track of his CD. She said, "Bette Midler, Patti LaBelle, Judy Collins and a lot of wonderful people have recorded my songs, but one of the sweetest and most unique of them all is Tom. He sings like an angel. Tom's like a Faberge egg: very rare and valuable."

What's next for Andersen? He said he's working on writing some new songs and he'll be doing some shows this summer: July 9-10 at Odette's in New Hope, Pa.; Aug. 8 at Bradstan Country in White Lake, N.Y. Andersen added, "1999 has been a blast so far; I can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings!"

You can read an interview with Tom in our Cabaret section or perhaps you'd like to listen to him while you read Jonathan Frank's report from the MAC Awards. Click here to hear "Storybook" from Tom's CD, "The Journey."


On Monday, April 5th, Town Hall in New York hosted the 13th Annual MAC Awards. That night, the past, present, and future of Cabaret performed, presented and received awards, and proved how closely entwined the worlds of Cabaret and Broadway have become. In all, 32 general awards and 5 special achievement awards were given out over three hours.

The MAC (short for Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) Awards are the Cabaret equivalent to the Oscars, Tonys and Grammys combined and are voted upon by the over 1,000 MAC members, which include performers, directors, writers and supporters of Cabaret. (The other award for Cabaret, the Bistro Award, is perhaps closer to the Golden Globes, coming from Backstage Magazine). To get nominated for a MAC Award, one must have performed at least six dates, four of which must have been in New York at one of the over 60 Cabaret spaces, Jazz clubs or Piano Bars which are MAC Members. One then submits his or her nomination to MAC in order to be considered for a nomination for an award.

After initial nominations are made, MAC members vote them down to three or four per category, and the categories are as varied as the acts that comprise Cabaret. In addition to Male/Female Vocalist, there are awards for best Pop/R&B vocalist, Musical Comedy Performer, Male/Female Stand-up, Impersonation or Characterization (Gender Illusionist), Jazz Performer, Singer/Instrumentalist, Song of the Year, Recording of the year; the list goes on and on. And the list is also split between regular and major awards (as one award winner commented, "The Major Award means you are making money" but actually it means you have worked in one of the larger rooms). The MAC members then vote for one from each category, and the winners are announced at the award show.

The one thing that truly differentiates awards for Cabaret from Theater, film or music is the presenters and the acceptance speeches. Unlike the other art forms, where performances are largely (if not totally) scripted, Cabaret is a free-form, seat-of-your-pants performance style, so presenters and winners alike are masters of improv and working off the cuff. This made for a highly enjoyable show filled with great moments. KT Sullivan commenting on how her stunning, red beaded dress was sought after by everyone backstage, male and female. Major Jazz Performer Award winner John Pizzarelli doing a killer Roberto Bernini acceptance speech. Major Pop/R&B Vocalist Award winner Baby Jane Dexter giving the mother of all Cuba Gooding Jr. speeches using the playoff music to jam with the on-stage trio (thinking they were playing to encourage her). The "Heart of New York," Kitty Carlysle Hart, presenting "the Heart of New York, New York" Liza Minnelli with the Board of Directors Award.

The evening was also punctuated by performers from some of the best in the business. Barbara Cook, winner of the lifetime achievement award, opened and closed the evening demonstrating why, if you are in the New York area, you must race to Cafe Carlyle to catch her. Her voice sounds as fresh and pure as when she was a simple librarian named Marion. Kathie Lee Gifford performed a hysterical number by David Friedman, which chronicled her life in the tabloids (as one comic mentioned afterwards, "I was prepared to do 100 Kathie Lee jokes, but she beat me to them!") John Pizzarelli, jamming on an electric acoustic guitar showed why he won his award that night. Billy Stritch performed a great medley of "I've Got the World on a String" and "I Got Rhythm." The cast of Kooky Tunes showed off their pipes with a song (I think) called "What if?" Liza Minnelli wowing the house with "Stormy Weather," proving that her voice is coming back, and she still is a powerhouse performer. Betty Buckley sang "Serenity" from Triumph of Love (and surprisingly enough, needed to bring on music for it).

Marin Mazzie presented a special MAC Award to Sidney Myer, from Don't Tell Mama for all his contributions and for discovering and nurturing so many performers (one of which was Marin in the 80s).


Female Vocalist: Heather Mac Rae

Major Female Vocalist: Barbara Cook

Male Vocalist: Tom Andersen

Major Male Vocalist: James Naughton

Pop/R&B Vocalist: Bobby Belfry

Major Pop/R&B Vocalist: Baby Jane Dexter

Musical Comedy Performer: Amanda Green

Major Musical Comedy Performer: Mark Nadler

Female Stand-Up: Angela LaGreca

Major Female Stand-Up: Judy Gold

Male Stand-Up: Ron Poole

Major Male Stand-Up: Jim David

Jazz Performer: Mary Foster Conklin

Major Jazz Performer: John Pizzarelli

Female Debut: Karen Mack

Male Debut: Sammy Goldstein

Variety Production: "Jamie deRoy & Friends,"

Impersonation/Characterization: Tommy Femia

Revue of the Year: Rick Crom's "Our Life & Times"

Special Production: Julie Gold & Julie Halston: "Julie - Julie"

Singer/Instrumentalist: Rick Jensen

Jazz Instrumentalist: Steve Wilson

Vocal Musical Comedy Group: Scott Barbarino & The Bev Naps

Jazz/Swing Recording of the Year: Susannah McCorkle : "Someone To Watch Over Me"

Recording of the Year: Tom Andersen: "The Journey"

Major Recording of the Year: Rosemary Clooney: "At Long Last"

Song of the Year: "Good Night New York" (Julie Gold)

Special Musical Material: "Everytime A Friend Succeeds" (Amanda Green)

Piano Bar/Restaurant Entertainer: Bobby Peaco (Don't Tell Mama)

Director: Barry Kleinbort

Musical Director: Christopher Denny

Technical Director: Shawn Moninger

Hanson Award: Lumiri Tubo & Jack Donahue

Lifetime Achievement Award: Barbara Cook & Wally Harper

Board of Directors Award: Liza Minnelli

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