2011 MAC Awards. Who Will Win? But Who SHOULD Win?

Posted: April 22, 2011 in Cabaret, Culture, Entertainment, New York City, Nightlife, Performance, Uncategorized

OK, look. Last year I was writing for a certain website and I happened to float the suggestion of my doing a little article of a prediction piece about the MAC Awards, i.e. who would win and why. I wrote it, it was published, and it caused this enormous controversy over nothing. But on the brighter side, it got that particular website a LOT of hits because a lot of people were suddenly paying attention, both to me and to the site itself.  So, when the 2011 nominations were announced two weeks ago, and I suddenly found myself having to go out on my own and get my reviews published somewhere besides my weekly radio broadcast, an immediate question was whether or not I’d write something similar for this season. I didn’t want to. I mean, I REALLY didn’t want to.  So I flipped a coin. It came up heads. So here we go. And please bear in mind that I’ve not seen every single artist on this list or heard their CDs, and that I’m not a psychic, but I’ve made it a point to research as much as I could find on YouTube and through the reviews of my peers and colleagues, besides good old-fashioned snooping around. I’m rating this strictly on what I know of how cabaret works and the popularity factor, and which I’ve come to know very well in over two decades. If I happen to be invited that night so that I can talk about it on my weekly broadcast on WPAT radio, it will be very nice to congratulate the winners whether or not I was correct.

FEMALE VOCALIST

Deb Berman, All in Good Time
Metropolitan Room, Don’t Tell Mama

Carole J. Bufford, Carole J. Bufford Sings Randy Newman; intro; A Christmas Carol…with an E!
Don’t Tell Mama, Metropolitan Room, Urban Stages

Jackie Fornatale, Get Ready – Jackie Fornatale Sings Motown
Don’t Tell Mama, Laurie Beechman

Gretchen Reinhagen, Gretchen Sings Janis Joplin’s “Pearl”
Don’t Tell Mama

Sarah Rice, Screen Gems: Songs of Old Hollywood
Laurie Beechman

Who will win? Carole J. Bufford. Anyone who saw her at this year’s Cabaret Convention and had never seen her before was absolutely electrified.

Sarah Rice

Who should win? Sarah Rice. Screen Gems is an absolute phenomenon as is the lady herself.

MALE VOCALIST

Kevin Dozier, Take Me to the World
Feinstein’s, Laurie Beechman, Don’t Tell Mama

Stearns Matthews, this will be…; I’ll Be Stearns for Christmas
Laurie Beechman

Tony Middleton, Memories of Nat; untitled shows
Kitano, Iridium, La Mediterranée, Black Duck

Todd Murray, Croon
Feinstein’s, Metropolitan Room

Who will win? Stearns Matthews. The kid’s got the world on a string.

Who should win? Tony Middleton. The guy’s a musical legend.

MAJOR ARTIST

Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano, This Thing Called Love; Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano in Concert
Oak Room at the Algonquin, The Royal Room at the Colony (Palm Beach), Cooperstown Music Festival, El Morro Theater (Gallup, NM), Café Sabarsky

Eric Michael Gillett, Hooray for Love: Gillett Sings Arlen
Laurie Beechman, Feinstein’s

Karen Oberlin, Heart & Soul – A Centenary Celebration of Frank Loesser; A Wish: Songs of Hope, Heart and Humor for the New Year
Oak Room at the Algonquin, The Royal Room at the Colony (Palm Beach); Feinstein’s

Julie Reyburn, Live at Feinstein’s; Summer Night; So Many People…a Sondheim Show
Feinstein’s, Laurie Beechman, Urban Stages

Who will win? Tough call, but probably Comstock & Fasano. They’re a perpetual audience favorite, gorgeously polished, and right now they’re at the absolute height of their dual powers.

Who should win? Eric Michael Gillett. Hooray for Love was an evening of genius as only the gentleman could offer.

CELEBRITY ARTIST

Karen Mason, Karen Mason in Concert 2010
Metropolitan Room, Iridium, Backstage Dopo Teatro, Ryles Jazz Club (Boston), Drake Hotel (San Francisco), Metropolis (Chicago)

Marilyn Maye

Marilyn Maye, Her Own Kind of Broadway; The Merriest; In Love Again
Metropolitan Room, Feinstein’s

Sharon McNight, The First 30 Years: From Moose Hall to Carnegie Hall
Metropolitan Room; Yale Cabaret Series

KT Sullivan & Mark Nadler, Gershwin…Here to Stay
Oak Room at the Algonquin

Who will win? Marilyn Maye. For one, she rarely loses. For two, Her Own Kind of Broadway couldn’t possibly be more splendid for those seeking an absolutely perfect evening at the peak of cabaret sophistication.

Who should win? Sharon McNight. In a career that has seen this lady absolutely work like a dog from the first to last second of every single production, she completely outdid herself with Moose Hall and should be rewarded accordingly.

NEW YORK DEBUT – FEMALE

Liz Lark Brown, Tarnished
Metropolitan Room

Kim Grogg, Kim Grogg Sings Dusty Springfield: Stay Awhile; Kim Grogg is Feelin’ Groovy
Don’t Tell Mama

Nikki MacCallum, Matchmaker Matchmaker I’m Willing to Settle! A Musical Guide to Internet Dating
Laurie Beechman, Duplex

Liz Lark Brown

Who will win? Liz Lark Brown. It would be so, so very nice to say that Nikki would grab it, because her show was superb not just for her dynamic stage presence but the multimedia elements involved. But Liz has got the edge for a number of reasons, and this is definitely her season.

Who should win? Liz Lark Brown. See above.

NEW YORK DEBUT – MALE

Cornelius Bates, My Brazilian Romance – A Tribute to the Music from Brazil
Metropolitan Room

Sean Harkness
Metropolitan Room, Top of the Rock

Eddie Peterson, Greetings from America – The Songs of Randy Newman
Don’t Tell Mama

Who will win? Sean Harkness. No question; he’s got it sewn up not just for being such a dynamite supporting musician for the finest of the cabaret crop, but his abilities as a solo showman are absolutely astonishing.

Who should win? Cornelius Bates. Not to take anything away from Eddie Peterson, because it’s no secret that he worked his voice and persona to the quick on what was a masterful debut, but Bates was so very clearly “working for heat,” as used to be a popular phrase at the Lee Strasberg school, and that heat poured forth in abundance.

COMEDY / MUSICAL COMEDY PERFORMER – FEMALE

Mary Dimino
Broadway Comedy Club, Don’t Tell Mama, Stand-Up New York

Colleen McHugh, Calendar Girl
Duplex

Amy Wolk, Amy Wolk Sings Divine Madness
Don’t Tell Mama

Who will win? Mary Dimino. Yes, she’ll pull it off two years in a row. If, for nothing else, the fact that her Fringe show Scared Skinny was one of the finest offerings anywhere in Manhattan throughout the whole of the season.

Who should win? Mary Dimino. Because, the Fringe notwithstanding, she’s still one of the freshest breaths of comedy air in any club throughout the country.

COMEDY / MUSICAL COMEDY PERFORMER – MALE

Adelmo Guidarelli, Operation Adelmo – The Clown Prince of Opera; The Adelmo Guidarelli Christmas Special
Duplex, Don’t Tell Mama, Triad, Brook Arts Center

Justin Sayre, The Meeting
Duplex, Le Poisson Rouge

Oron Stenesh, The Big 3-0
Duplex

Who will win? Adelmo Guidarelli. Clown? Prince? Opera? Christmas? Come on; cabaret always knows a winning formula when it sees one.

Who should win? Justin Sayre. In a season fraught with so wondrous a resurgence of burlesque-related entertainment, this guy gave and he gave good.

DUO/GROUP

Scott Coulter, Steven Ray Watkins, Lennie Watts, 3Play The 70s
Don’t Tell Mama

Marquee Five, 8-Track Throwback
Don’t Tell Mama

Uptown Express, Point It Home; New Year’s Eve with Uptown Express
Tim McLoone’s (Asbury Park), Laurie Beechman, Bob Egan’s New Hope

Who will win? This is another tough call. Probably Coulter, Watkins and Watts. It was beautifully organized and executed, and it pretty much stands to reason that almost anything with Watts’ name on it spells a winning formula, not to mention the brilliance of Coulter and Watkins.

Who should win? Uptown Express. If, for nothing else, the chance to accept an award posthumously for our late lamented David Gurland.

VARIETY PRODUCTION/RECURRING SERIES

Cabaret Cares, Produced by Joseph Macchia
Laurie Beechman

Sondheim Unplugged, Written, produced, directed, and hosted by Phil Geoffrey Bond
Laurie Beechman, Don’t Tell Mama

Wednesday Night at the Iguana, Produced and hosted by Dana Lorge
Iguana

Who will win? Wednesday Night at the Iguana. If last year was more than they ever could have hoped to accomplish when both Dana Lorge and Richard Skipper were running it together, Dana has put even more pedal to the medal while flying it solo.

Who should win? Sondheim Unplugged. Phil Geoffrey Bond has never put together a better season of this year’s production, with more Sondheimian stars than there are in the heavens.

OPEN MIC

Mostly Sondheim, Programmed by Brian Nash, Emily McNamara, Ben Cameron
Duplex

Our Way, Your Way, Broadway (aka Show Tune Room), Produced and hosted by Michael Kirk Lane
Don’t Tell Mama

Salon, Created and hosted by Mark Janas, produced by Tanya Moberly
Etcetera Etcetera

Who will win? Salon. From the very beginning when the show was at the Algonquin, the show had the marks of a winner all over its gilded self. But this season, both Mark Janas and Tanya Moberly managed to formulate an evening that can’t help but win the prize.

Who should win? Salon. Same reason.

HOST – VARIETY SHOW/SERIES OR OPEN MIC

Raissa Katona Bennett, The Concerts at Tudor City Greens
Tudor City Greens

Phil Geoffrey Bond, Sondheim Unplugged
Laurie Beechman, Don’t Tell Mama

Mark Janas, Salon
Etcetera Etcetera

Dana Lorge, Wednesday Night at the Iguana
Iguana

Who will win? Sondheim Unplugged. It has a much better shot in this category than Recurring Series.

Who should win? The Concerts at Tudor City Greens. Raissa has managed, every season since this wonderful bunch of concerts began, to make them better and better with every passing year, and it would be thoroughly lovely to see her work awarded this way at long last. And if this isn’t the year, it won’t be long now.

SPECIAL PRODUCTION

Faye Lane’s Beauty Shop Stories, Created and performed by Faye Lane, directed by Jay Rogers, produced by Adam Magazine
La Mama ETC, Huron Club at Soho Playhouse

My Queer Youth, Written and performed by Phil Geoffrey Bond, directed by Michele Pawk
Laurie Beechman

Scared Skinny, Written and performed by Mary Dimino
Paradise Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Source

Who will win? This might well be the toughest race of the whole shootin’ match, because all three are absolutely spectacular. The gut says My Queer Youth, partly because it was the only one of the three to run exclusively in cabaret as opposed to a theatrical venue.

Who should win? Faye Lane’s Beauty Shop Stories. It is a great and glorious thing when a combination of script, storyteller and director manage to spring forth a presentation that every single person in an audience, regardless of background or personal experience, can simply dive into and swim as though consumed by a glorious rush of banana-marshmallow creme.

PIANO BAR/RESTAURANT SINGING ENTERTAINER

Liz Lark Brown
Don’t Tell Mama

Anne Steele
Don’t Tell Mama, Brandy’s

Kristine Zbornik
Don’t Tell Mama

Who will win? Good question. This could easily end up a tie between Liz Lark Brown and Anne Steele. Neither one, whether in piano bar or elsewhere, have ever given anything less that their absolute utmost on a stage anywhere this season.

Who should win? Kristine Zbornik. It was absolutely joyous to see her return to a genre of nightlife where she’s been so sorely missed, and nobody can sling a cocktail along with a song like this gal ever could.

PIANO BAR/RESTAURANT INSTRUMENTALIST

Nate Buccieri
Don’t Tell Mama, Brandy’s

Gerry Dieffenbach
Duplex, Don’t Tell Mama

Jerry Scott
Butler’s

Who will win? Nate Buccieri. No question. Because it is a rare thing indeed when an accompanist so relatively new against such long-timers as Gerry and Jerry are so completely revered by their peers and colleagues.

Who should win? Nate Buccieri. Because it is a rare thing indeed when an accompanist so relatively new against such long-timers as Gerry and Jerry are so completely revered by their peers and colleagues. (Yes, I meant to say it twice).

MUSICAL DIRECTOR

Sean Harkness
Deb Berman (Metropolitan Room, Don’t Tell Mama), Terese Genecco Sings Elvis (Don’t Tell Mama, Triad, Rrazz Room)

Mark Janas
Julie Reyburn (Feinstein’s, Laurie Beechman, Urban Stages), Kevin McMullan (Laurie Beechman), Tanya Moberly (Don’t Tell Mama), Len Cariou (Ripley Greer)

Alex Rybeck
Liz & Ann Hampton Callaway: Boom! (Town Hall), Todd Murray (Feinstein’s, Metropolitan Room), Kevin Dozier (Feinstein’s, Laurie Beechman, Don’t Tell Mama), Liz Callaway: New Year’s Eve (Metropolitan Room), Donna McKechnie (Laurie Beechman), Faith Prince (Caramoor)

Tracy Stark
2010 MAC Awards (B.B. King), Marcus Simeone: Haunted (Metropolitan Room), Gretchen Reinhagen (Don’t Tell Mama)

Who will win? Tracy Stark. Her work this season was more outstanding than arguably any she’s had in a past of many outstanding seasons, and she deserves it wholeheartedly.

Who should win? Hard to say. Probably Alex Rybeck, just for Boom! if nothing else. His work this year was just splendid.

DIRECTOR

Eric Michael Gillett
Karen Akers (Oak Room at the Algonquin), Karen Oberlin (Oak Room at the Algonquin), Jarrod Spector (Metropolitan Room, Oak Room at the Plaza)

Peter Napolitano
Janice Hall (Metropolitan Room, Urban Stages), Barbara Porteus (Feinstein’s), Helena Grenot (Don’t Tell Mama), Adam Shapiro (Duplex)

Lennie Watts
Julie Reyburn (Feinstein’s, Laurie Beechman), Kevin Dozier (Feinstein’s, Laurie Beechman, Don’t Tell Mama), Liz Lark Brown (Metropolitan Room), Jackie Fornatale (Don’t Tell Mama, Laurie Beechman)

Who will win? Lennie Watts. This is hardly a surprise; it doesn’t really matter anymore who directs what in this town. He is the master and none of us are possibly in the dark about such a thing.

Who should win? Your humble reporter will go out on a limb and suggest Peter Napolitano strictly for effort; the work he did with Adam Shapiro at the very least will always serve as a beacon of accomplishment.

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR

Denise Andersen
Ricky Ritzel & Spider Saloff; Lennie Watts, Steven Ray Watkins, Scott Coulter; Stephen Wallem & Edie Falco (Don’t Tell Mama)

David Colbert
Karen Finley, Sarah Rice, Coco Peru (Laurie Beechman)

Randy Lester
Steven Brinberg: Simply Barbra, Marquee Five, Eric Michael Gillett Presents Cookie Stark (Don’t Tell Mama)

Who will win? David Colbert. His experience by now speaks for itself, and continues to shine brightly (excuse the pun) on whomever he might be working with that evening.

Who should win? Randy Lester. It can be argued that absolutely nobody on this scene in the last season, from either side of the service bar, made more serious strides towards being accepted as a legitimate technical artist.

SONG

“After Hours”
Music by Derek Gregor, Lyrics by Sam Carner

“And I’m Leaving Today”
Music by Alex Rybeck, Lyrics by Todd Murray

“Don’t Break My Heart on New Year’s Eve”
Music by Brian Cimmet, Lyrics by Amanda Yesnowitz

“Haunted”
Music by Tracy Stark, Lyrics by Marcus Simeone

“More Than I Am”
Music by Hyeyoung Kim, Lyrics by Michael L. Cooper

What will win? “Haunted.” By now it’s no secret that Marcus Simeone could stand on stage and sing the label of a tube of toothpaste and still make it sound like the greatest song on earth, and Tracy (already known as a breathtaking songwriter) wrote a number that is a winner on all counts.

What should win? “And I’m Leaving Today.” Rarely has an original song for cabaret, and a collaboration at that, embodied all of the best elements of a composer/lyricist like Manilow while remaining completely unique. It is EVERYthing a ballad should be.

SPECIAL MUSICAL MATERIAL

“All of My Friends”
Music and lyrics by Drew Fornarola

“Christmas in Michigan”
Music and lyrics by Mary Liz McNamara

“Just Adjust Your Dreams”
Music and lyrics by Michael Hadge

“Sing, But Don’t Tell”
Music by Derek Gregor, Lyrics by Sam Carner

“We Are the Meek”
Music and lyrics by Garry Novikoff

What will win? “We Are the Meek.” Garry Novikoff proved a constant surprise when he wrote this one, especially after so much gay-themed material both humorous (“I Like Men”) and heartwrenching (“Lenny”).  It works as either a solo or a group number, and is delicious enough to eat.

What should win? “We Are the Meek” for the same reasons.

RECORDING

Annie Kozuch
“Here With You”

Karen Oberlin
“Live at the Algonquin – The Songs of Frank Loesser”

Anne Steele
“Strings Attached”

Uptown Express
“Take You There”

Julian Yeo
“Homage”

What will win? Uptown Express, for the same reason mentioned above RE: poor Gurland, aside from the fact that it’s a gorgeously-produced disc.

What should win? Karen Oberlin. It is a SEAMLESS recording besides being a splendiferous mingling of the right singer, the right material, and the right room.

And so, maybe I’m right and maybe I’m wrong. And so we’ll see. In the meantime, your humble writer offers the very best of luck to all the nominees, as always.

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Comments
  1. John De Marc says:

    Hi, Very sad the MAC group is denying we Jazz performers our place in the voting this year.. They dropped the Jazz singer and cd category. Hopefully they will reconsider in the future..
    Thank You,

    John

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