Winners of the 17th Annual Bistro Awards for outstanding achievement in cabaret were announced on Jan. 31 in Back Stage: The Performing Arts Weekly. Among the twenty-eight recipients are New York favorites, Sam Harris and Donna McKechnie, who are both being honored for their Outstanding Major Engagements. Harris received 1997 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critic's Circle Award nominations for his role in Cy Coleman's musical, The Life and also appeared in the 1994 revival of Grease!. McKechnie is best known for her role as Cassie in A Chorus Line, which won her the 1976 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Lea DeLaria's album, "Cool", on which the Broadway performer sings jazz arrangements of some of Broadway's biggest hits, including "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd", Chicago's "All That Jazz", and "Losing My Mind" from Follies, was honored as Outstanding Recording. Blossom Dearie will receive the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Back Stage Bistro Awards were established in 1985 to honor creative achievement and excellence in cabaret. The goal of the awards is to recognize artistic achievement and not to name the "best" of anything. An artist is not permitted to receive a Bistro award more than once in the same category. This year's awards will be distributed on March 4 at the Bistro Awards Gala, which will feature performances from all Bistro-winning artists and shows. Jim David will serve as the Guest Emcee. Following is a complete list of the 2002 Backstage Bistro Award Winners:
NEW YORK DEBUT: Johnny Rodgers at Arci's Place
VOCALIST: Frans Bloem at Judy's Chelsea; Karen Oberlin at the FireBird Cafe, Craig Rubano at the Laurie Beechman Theater at the West Bank Cafe. MAJOR ENGAGEMENT: Sam Harris at Arci's Place; Donna McKechnie at Arci's Place.
CONCEPT SHOW: "Gina Caruso Does Forman Brown," written and performed by Gina Caruso at Don't Tell Mama.
MUSICAL COMEDY: Modern Man (David Buskin, Rob Carlson, and George Wurzbach) at the Laurie Beechman Theater at the West Bank Cafe.
GROUP SHOW: "Heart & Music," created and performed by Scott Coulter, Steven Ray Watkins, and Lennie Watts at Don't Tell Mama.
SINGER/SONG WRITER: D.C. Anderson
SINGER/SONG WRITER/INSTRUMENTALIST: Jay Leonhart
COLLABORATION ON THE ARRANGEMENT OF A SINGLE SONG: Kane Alexander and Christopher Denny for "These Foolish Things."
CONTRIBUTION TO A PERFORMANCE: Johnny Frigo in Phillip Officer's "Hoagy On My Mind" at Arci's Place.
PIANO BAR ENTERTAINER: A.J. Irvin at Don't Tell Mama and Rose's Turn.
CHARACTERIZATION: Mark McCombs at Don't Tell Mama.
COMEDY PERFORMER: Colette Hawley at Don't Tell Mama.
DIRECTION: Lennie Watts, for "Ten Jumps Ahead of a Fit," among other shows.
MUSICAL DIRECTION: Mark Janas.
TECHNICAL DIRECTION: Jean-Pierre Perreaux at Arci's Place.
RECORDING: Lea DeLaria for "Cool."
CONTINUOUS EXCELLENCE IN PIANO BAR ENTERTAINMENT: George Sanders at Don't Tell Mama.
SPECIAL AWARD: Arci's Place; Roy Sander.
BOB HARRINGTON LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Blossom Dearie.
The Bistro Awards 17th Anniversary Gala will be held at The Supper Club, 240 W. 47th Street, New York City, on Monday, March 4 at 6:30 PM. The public will be able to purchase a limited number of tickets for $65 by calling (646) 654-5740.
-by Chris Reichheld