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."
The 1999 MAC AWARDS
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
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).
WINNERS OF THE 1999 MAC AWARDS
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
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