Tony Award winner Karen Ziemba, the host for the upcoming Theatre Development Fund’s (TDF) 20th Annual TDF Astaire Awards on May 18, says that the anniversary theme of the event will be “what it takes to be a Broadway dancer and a Broadway choreographer.”
“It’s the 20th anniversary of the awards,” Ziemba told Playbill On-Line, “so our director, Scott Wise is putting together a bit of a retrospective.” Ziemba said that this year’s Astaire Awards, like others, will “honor Broadway dancers and choreographers.”
“It’s the only award that really celebrates Fred and Adele Astaire by way of honoring the Broadway dance community,” Ziemba said. “This year the program will be telling a story.”
As reported, the May 18 benefit luncheon gala will be directed and choreographed by Scott Wise and hosted by Tony Award winning dancer Karen Ziemba (Contact). Award presenters will include Natalia Makarova and Donna McKechnie. Ziemba says that she will not dance for the show, but will be involved with moving things along according to schedule as the host. Production notes indicate that the popular revival of 42nd Street leads the pack with a total of four nominations. The Full Monty and The Producers each earned two nominations while Roundabout’s revival of Follies earned one.
Another highlight scheduled for this year’s Astaire Awards will be TDF’s presentation of the "Lifetime Achievement" award to choreographer Donald Saddler. Saddler appears in Roundabout’s Follies and has earned two Tony Awards for his choreography of Wonderful Town and No, No, Nanette. Saddler was recently inducted to the Theatre Hall of Fame.
The TDF award program celebrates the “best dance on Broadway." Award categories include Best Choreographer, Best Female Dancer and Best Male Dancer.
The 20th Annual TDF Astaire nominees are:
Jerry Mitchell* (The Full Monty)
Randy Skinner* (42nd Street)
Susan Stroman* (The Producers)
Best Female Dancer
Carol Bentley (Follies)
Cady Huffman* (The Producers)
Kate Levering* (42nd Street)
Best Male Dancer
Michael Arnold (42nd Street)
Andre De Shields* (The Full Monty)
David Elder (42nd Street)
TDF says that nominees “were selected from this season's Broadway shows that include dance: A Class Act, Bells Are Ringing, Blast!, Follies, 42nd Street, Seussical, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Full Monty, The Producers and The Rocky Horror Show.”
The awards committee for the Astaire Awards comprises includes Douglas Watt, The New Yorker, chairman; Clive Barnes, New York Post; Howard Kissel, New York Daily News; Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press; Donald McDonagh, managing editor of Ballet Review; Richard Philp, Dance Magazine; Charles L. Reinhart, director of the American Dance Festival and Linda Winer, Newsday.
Tickets for the benefit luncheon and ceremony are $500 and $250. There are also $25 mezzanine tickets available for the ceremony only. The 20th Annual TDF Astaire Awards will take place at 12 noon at the Hudson Theatre, located at 145 W. 44 St. For ticket info, call (212) 221-0885, ext 252. For additional information about TDF and its programs visit www.tdf.org.
—By Murdoch McBride