As Tony time nears and theatregoers chew their fingernails over choosing between The Lion King and Ragtime, the Fred Astaire Awards have solved the problem of whether Garth Fagan or Graciela Daniele is more deserving of an award for choreography: the Theatre Development Fund-sponsored award will be shared by both of them.
Also honored for outstanding achievement in Broadway dance will be the Kit Kat Klub boys and girls dance ensemble from the Roundabout Theatre's revival of Cabaret (staged by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall).
Stanley Donen, co-director with Gene Kelly of the legendary films Singin' in the Rain, Damn Yankees and On The Town, will make a special appearance at this year's Astaire Awards, held at noon, May 21 at NYC's Hudson Theatre in the Millennium Hotel. Donen will screen scenes from the Astaire film, Royal Wedding.
Astaire's widow, Robin Astaire, and cabaret singer Steve Ross (Present Laughter) will also be onhand. Hosting will be Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago), Wayne Cilento (Tommy), and Judith Jamison (artistic director of the Alvin Ailey Company). Neuwirth will present the award to the Cabaret dancers, Cilento will present to Daniele, and Jamison will present to Fagan.
Last year's Astaires were taken by Neuwirth and Ann Reinking (a tie for best female dancer), with Reinking also getting a best choreography nod for her work on Chicago. The previous year, Savion Glover (Noise/Funk) and Donna McKechnie (State Fair) shared the honors. Other Astaire Award winners -- dancer and choreographers alike -- have included Debbie Allen, Michael Bennett, Wayne Cilento, Charles "Honi" Coles, Don Correia, Natalia Makarova, Charlotte D'Amboise, Bob Fosse, Gregory Hines, Chita Rivera, Jerome Robbins, Susan Stroman and Tommy Tune.
For information ($150) on the invitation-only event call (212) 221-0885.