What a Swell Party It Was!!! And Was!!! And Was!!!

Posted: May 11, 2011 in Broadway, Cabaret, Comedy, Culture, Entertainment, New York City, Nightlife, Performance, Theater, Theatre, Uncategorized

Christine Pedi

OK, so…it was pointedly unclear as to whether or not I’d be attending the MAC Awards this year, which was a milestone in any case because it was the ceremony’s Silver Jubilee, commemorating twenty-five years since the very first one at the Village Gate. But we didn’t know if I’d be in attendance; I’d done extensive advance coverage in my weekly broadcast on WPAT, and wrote my predictions piece here on the blog (all of which came true save for Kevin Dozier winning Best Male Vocalist and Gary Novikoff NOT winning Best Special Musical Material for “We Are the Meek”), but having been fired from NiteLifeExchange.com seven weeks ago left me unsure as to whether or not I was still considered a viable journalistic presence. It was, therefore, delightful beyond words when Julie Miller, the radiant producer of the event, offered me tickets for myself and a friend, and since Bill was unavailable and Shelley was busy with final exams, I took my old friend (and long-ago-paramour) Eddie Lawrence, the brilliant pianist and singer, whom it was wonderful to see again after so long. Donned my tan silk suit (a gift from ex-bf Halley before he up and left for Palm Springs to live there permanently a few months ago), my smoke-gray mock (a gift from ex-husband Gary), black socks and my black Dexter loafers, and the most tasteful of my most tasteful jewelry. (What I completely forgot to wear was my goldtone MAC stickpin, which I got last year when I accepted the award for Danny Cohen when he garnered Best Male Comedian and he graciously offered it to me as a gift, but I got over  forgetting it by the time I was a few subways stops way from the event at BB Kings, and anyway, I didn’t want to put holes in the silk suit).

Well, we got there, said hello to Ruth Kurtzmann and Mary Lahti (who were manning the ticket table) after a lovely greeting outside with Kevin McMullan and Annette Hunt, and then said hello to Raissa Katona Bennett and her wonderful husband Garrett Bennett (the plastic surgeon, whom I lovingly call Doc, and who did such a terrific job of repairing my face when I got shot by the street gang on the subway two years ago). We then said fond hellos to Joe Regan Jr and Miles Phillips, and it wasn’t long before the show got underway. A marvelous opening number of Manilow’s “One Voice” opened the evening, performed by the aforementioned Mr. Phillips besides Sue Matsuki, Natalie Douglas, Karen Mack and Lorinda Lisitza among others, and then the evening truly unfolded when Christine Pedi took her place on the stage to sally forth as the Emcee, and did a brilliant job from start to finish.

What took place last night may well be the single greatest MAC Awards in

Lennie Watts and Julie Miller

history. The evening was punctuated by video clips of the original celebration in ’87, which was an inspired touch, and the near-miracle of it all is that Lennie Watts directed it with such aplomb that it finally came in under less than four hours. Highlights included Nate Buccieri’s acceptance speech for Best Piano Bar Singer/Instrumentalist, an absolutely outstanding duet between bassist Ritt Henn (this time on ukelele) and the aforementioned Mr. Watts, and a splendid performance by Annie Ross as a Lifetime Achievement winner, punctuated with anecdotes about her life and also her time spent with the late lamented Blossom Dearie. There was also the delectable surprise of Julie Reyburn winning Best Major Music Engagement, marvelous appearances by Johnny Rodgers both as a presenter and a performer, Liz Lark Brown snaring Best Female Debut, and Rick Jensen’s turn at the piano as a video clip spun the names of those no longer with us in the cabaret community, as well as Best Female Vocalist winner Sarah Rice performing a number by Yma Sumac, not to mention George Sanders, who won the Board of Directors Award. I likewise couldn’t have been happier that Marcus Simeone and Tracy Stark won Best Song for “Haunted,” and it was lovely beyond words to say hello to his longtime lover Gregory Kennell outside, for whom the song was written. And for me personally, I was delighted to run into old friends I hadn’t seen in years, most notably Vicki Sander, who looks absolutely as fantastic as always.

Also, an amazing thing happened midway through the show. I went upstairs and ran into Scott Barbarino, who until recently had been my publisher at NiteLifeExchange.com. We went outside for a cigarette, talked over a few things, and after I tendered yet another apology for the mistake that got me fired, he asked if I might like to consider returning to NiteLife. I said of course I would, he said they could only let me do a couple of articles a month and they’d need to be discussed in advance, but I very happily agreed. (Readers, I’ll continue to do the blog and my radio broadcast, but this was very much a splendid moment for me last night. I’m BACK!!!).

Annie Ross

There were two afterparties, the first being at Don’t Tell Mama, where Sharon McNight was absolutely delighted to see me, as were Jamie deRoy, Erv Raible, Ruby Rims, Bruce Barnes, the delightful Klea Blackhurst (who it seems has forgiven me for never recognizing her when she comes up and says hello, which will never happen again), and a wonderful chance to meet Patricia Fitzpatrick (hanging out in front with Helena Grenot) besides Kit Lo, whom I only really knew as a Facebook friend but is one of the warmest people I ever met and just adores cabaret no end. Julie Wilson, resplendent as always, came up and hoped my mom was well. I was also very happy to

tell Randy Lester sincerely that I really thought she deserved the award for Technical Direction, no matter how happy I was that David Colbert had won it. It was at that point Eddie headed for home.

The second afterparty was at Iridium, to which the aforementioned Regan Jr and I walked over together, and once there, as he busied himself in a parfait glass of vanilla ice cream (hear that, Barbara Cook? LOL) I got to say hello to friends old and new, including Daryl Glenn, Rob Lester, Suzanne Peebles, Ricky Ritzel, and had the most wonderful conversation with Christine Pedi, besides amazing catch-up sessions with the aforementioned Mr. Sanders and Robert Peaco, and Penny Landau, who welcomed me warmly back into the NiteLifeExchange fold. And I saw Patricia West for the first time in years, who gave me the unfortunate news about her son Andrew perishing from juvenile diabetes (and I’m completely crushed; the kid was my opener when I did my MAC-nominated show Open to Criticism at Stand-Up New York in June of ’94).

Oh, and JP Perreaux walked me to the subway. Always a lovely touch to end an evening. And so, here we are tonight. The show is history. Truly history. And I couldn’t be more thrilled to have taken some small part in it.

And the winners were:


SARAH RICE, Screen Gems: Songs of Old Hollywood
Laurie Beechman


KEVIN DOZIER, Take Me to the World
Feinstein’s, Laurie Beechman, Don’t Tell Mama


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


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


Metropolitan Room


Metropolitan Room, Top of the Rock


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


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


Don’t Tell Mama


CABARET CARES, Produced by Joseph Macchia
Laurie Beechman


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


RAISSA KATONA BENNETT, The Concerts at Tudor City Greens
Tudor City Greens


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


Don’t Tell Mama


Don’t Tell Mama, Brandy’s


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)


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)


DAVID COLBERT – Karen Finley, Sarah Rice, Coco Peru (Laurie Beechman)


“HAUNTED” – Music by Tracy Stark, Lyrics by Marcus Simeone


“CHRISTMAS IN MICHIGAN” – Music and lyrics by Mary Liz McNamara


KAREN OBERLIN – Live at the Algonquin – The Songs of Frank Loesser

  1. Joe St. Cyr says:

    So glad you got to go to the show. How could you NOT be included!!

  2. vicki says:

    Hi I never saw this! Thanks!!!

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