Come to the cabaret -- events, that is. Once again March is Cabaret Month, and more than 50 of Gotham's finest cabaret rooms will be celebrating with special performances, showcases, and award presentations.
The denouement of Cabaret Month, the 13th annual MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) Awards, will honor Liza Minnelli with the Board of Directors Award and Barbara Cook and her accompanist Wally Harper with the Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be presented by Sheldon Harnick.
Cook is being recognized as the epitome of the cabaret success story. She invented a new career for herself when she turned to cabaret after retiring from Broadway and has achieved legendary status in the medium. Harper, a former Broadway musical director, now plays exclusively for Cook, and since his arrangements are credited with helping her succeed, the MAC board decided to honor both of them.
Minnelli receives the Board of Directors Award for her support of cabaret and the attention she has brought to the medium. She has helped singers gain exposure by having them open for her and has attended MAC shows. MAC has wanted to present her with the award for some time, and this year Minnelli's schedule allows her to be present to accept it.
Cook and Harper will perform at the MAC ceremony, as will Minnelli (with Billy Stritch). Betty Buckley will also do a number. The MACs will be held April 5 at New York's Town Hall. Also on tap for Cabaret Month are:
* The 14th annual Back Stage Bistro Awards. Hosted by editor in chief Sherry Eaker and cabaret columnists Roy Sander and John Hoglund, the Bistros honor outstanding cabaret accomplishments on March 1 at 6:30 PM at the Supper Club.
* 92nd Street Y's Lyrics and Lyricists Series. A special presentation, "Come to the Cabaret," takes place March 23. For information call (212) 996-1100.
* MAC Award nominations. The names will be unveiled at a reception for press and club owners March 3.
* MAC/ASCAP Songwriters Showcase. New material, performers, and comedians get some exposure on March 17 at The Lighthouse, 11 E. 59th St.
With a total of 32 categories this year, the MACs will honor outstanding performers in the areas of jazz, vocal, pop/R&B, and comedy; recording and song of the year; variety production; and jazz instrumentalist and piano bar entertainer. The special Hanson Award will honor a promising cabaret newcomer.
Tickets are $100, $40, and $20 and can be purchased, after March 1, at Town Hall, 123 West 44th St., or through TicketMaster: (212) 307-4100. For more information, call the MAC Hotline at (212) 465 2662.
-- By Diane Snyder