New York City, January 30, 2020 —One of the longest-running musical partnerships in Broadway history, lyricist and director Richard Maltby, Jr. and composer David Shire, will be honored, along with a diverse group of 17 other outstanding artists, at the 35th Annual Bistro Awards on Monday, March 9 at Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd St.
As is the Bistro Awards tradition, the evening will feature performances by the winners.
Celebrating more than 50 years of musical accomplishments, the songwriting team is receiving the Bistro Award’s highest honor, the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award, being presented by ASCAP, the nonprofit performance-rights organization and the Bistro Award’s longtime sponsor.
Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire are best known for such Broadway shows as Baby (seven Tony nominations including Best Musical and Best Score), Big (Tony nomination for Best Score), and two Off-Broadway revues, Starting Here, Starting Now (Grammy nomination for Best Cast Album) and Closer Than Ever (Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical). These last two shows got their start in smaller nightclub venues, the cabaret at Manhattan Theatre Club and Eighty Eight’s, respectively, as did Mr. Maltby’s Ain’t Misbehavin’, which he conceived and directed.
In addition to their collaborative efforts, each has an impressive list of individual accomplishments, Mr. Maltby for his direction and lyric writing, and Mr. Shire who composes for movies, television, and recordings.
The multi-talented Charles Busch has worked as a performer, writer, director, and drag artist in theatre, cabaret, and film. He can be funny and campy in a gown, or as in his recent autobiographical cabaret show, quite touching as himself. In recognition of his many diverse and unique talents, he will be receiving a Bistro for Creative Artistry.
American-born and a West End favorite, Lorna Dallas returned to the cabaret world last year after a 20-year hiatus. A superb artist, she proved that she is still able to wow club audiences. The Bistro Awards Committee is celebrating this top-tier vocalist with a Bistro for Consummate Cabaret Artistry.
For her highly acclaimed work as a singer, songwriter, and musical director, Michele Brourman is being honored with a Bistro Award. Her songs have been performed on television and in films, and recorded by countless cabaret artists including Michael Feinstein, Margaret Whiting, and Cleo Laine, and with Amanda McBroom she's written songs for eighteen animated features.
This year’s Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award—given to an outstanding performer on the rise and named after Back Stage’s co-founder and first cabaret critic—goes to Jack Bartholet for pushing boundaries and daring to be different. His rich tenor voice, his expert storytelling, and his emotional conviction covering personal, social, and political issues make him a worthy award recipient.
Spencer Day’s winning personality combined with his singing and songwriting talent won audiences over during his extended residency at The Green Room 42. He won over members of the Bistro Awards Committee as well and is being honored as Singer-Songwriter-Recording Artist.
Tribute shows are popular on the cabaret circuit, and three spectacular artists have showed us just how unique and varied their approaches can be. In her Johnny Mercer show, veteran cabaret and stage performer Nancy McGraw plumbed the Mercer lyrics for greater depth and new meaning (Interpretive Artistry), while stage veteran and newcomer to cabaret Elizabeth Ward Land paid homage to Linda Ronstadt, paralleling her own life with that of the multi-award-winning singer and demonstrating a glorious voice and technique (Tribute Show). And Stephanie Trudeau presented a portrait of Mexican star Chavela Vargas, ranchera singer and early feminist. Trudeau’s well-researched narration, her slides giving us a glimpse of Vargas at various stages of her life, and her spirited singing created a compelling (Tribute Show).
One often hears of the spirit of camaraderie to be found in the cabaret community; one set of artists, in particular, has brought that spirit to life. Performing together, Sean Harkness, Lina Koutrakos, and Marcus Simeone—all previous individual Bistro Award winners—deliver a perfect balance of solos, duets, instrumental, and ensemble numbers, with personalities that harmonize as beautifully as their voices (Musical Group).
In her shows last year, jazz singer and actress Aisha de Haas simply chose songs that have the greatest meaning to her and that she loves to sing. Her stunning musicality and captivating storytelling that intertwined one song with the next has earned her a Bistro for Jazz Artistry.
In her first cabaret show, Like a Perfumed Woman, singer Joanne Halev drew on her career in "fragrance creation" to charm, move, and delight audiences with songs and anecdotes. A most auspicious Debut.
Vocalist Sue Matsuki and musical director-pianist Gregory Toroian have been working together for 25 years. Last year they commemorated Matsuki's long performance career with a terrific retrospective show, filled with first-rate singing and masterful new arrangements. The Bistro team is now honoring their artistic relationship with a Bistro Award (Collaboration).
Both Gabrielle Stravelli and Gretchen Reinhagen are being recognized for their Recordings. In her CD Pick Up My Pieces, Stravelli delivers irresistible renditions of selections from the Willie Nelson songbook. Reinhagen's Take It With Me presents an eclectic collection of material, with an exciting and strikingly fresh approach taken for each song.
For the eighth year in a row, Shellen Lubin is directing the Bistro Awards show. Shellen is a theatre director, playwright, songwriter, and vocal- and acting coach. She is at the forefront of attaining parity for women in the arts as co-president of the League of Professional Theatre Women and past president of Women in the Arts & Media Coalition.
The “Bistro Band” consists of Daryl Kojak, pianist and musical director; Ritt Henn on bass; and Dwayne “Cook” Broadnax on drums.
The gala event will be held on Monday, March 9 at 7:00 pm at Gotham Comedy Club. 208 W. 23rd Street. Sherry Eaker, the former longtime Editor-in Chief of Back Stage and the producer of the event since its inception, heads up the Awards Committee, which includes BistroAwards.com critics Gerry Geddes, Roy Sander, Robert Windeler, and Mark Dundas Wood. Sander is the award show's associate producer; Wendy Lane Bailey is the assistant producer.
Tickets range from $80.00 to $350.00. Ticket-buyers in all categories are invited to the "After-Bistros" supper party as guests of the Bistros. For details about the various ticket categories and early-purchase prices, visit www.BistroAwards.com. For additional information, call 917-239-5467.
Following is a complete list of the winners being recognized for their outstanding work:
Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire / Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award
presented by ASCAP
Charles Busch / Creative Artistry
Michele Brourman / Singer-Songwriter-Musical Director
Lorna Dallas / Consummate Cabaret Artistry
Jack Bartholet / Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award
Spencer Day / Singer-Songwriter-Recording Artist
Aisha de Haas / Jazz Vocalist
Joanne Halev / Debut / Like a Perfumed Woman
Sean Harkness, Lina Koutrakos, Marcus Simeone / Musical Group
Elizabeth Ward Land / Tribute Show /
Still Within the Sound of My Voice: The Songs of Linda Ronstadt
Sue Matsuki, Greg Toroian / Collaboration
Nancy McGraw / Interpretive Artistry
Gretchen Reinhagen / Recording –Take It With Me
Gabrielle Stravelli / Recording –Pick Up My Pieces
Stephanie Trudeau / Tribute Show / Chavela: Think of Me
The BISTRO AWARD has been recognizing, encouraging, nurturing, and educating cabaret, jazz and comedy artists for 35 years through its insightful reviews and annual awards. It is the oldest award of its kind in the industry. It was established by Bob Harrington in 1985 in his "Bistro Bits" column in the trade weekly Back Stage, then under the editorship of Sherry Eaker. For the first few years, the awards were merely listed in Harrington's column as notable performances he had seen during the calendar year. The first formal presentation of the awards was held in 1990 at Eighty Eight's, a popular cabaret venue in the West Village. From there, the show moved on to The Ballroom in Chelsea, and then relocated to the Supper Club in the Broadway District, where it remained for many years. This year marks the 14th year at Gotham Comedy Club.
The guidelines that Harrington set up for himself to determine the first winners have become the basic philosophy behind the Bistro Awards, which recognize achievement in a wide variety of categories — from outstanding performances to outstanding contributions by members of the cabaret community. The object is not to choose the "best" of anything of the year, but to recognize and congratulate the accomplishments of those who have done something special. Accordingly, categories can easily be created from year to year as they best fit the year's distinguished work.
The Bistro's special honorees have included Judy Collins (2019); André De Shields, Sheila Jordan (2018), Darlene Love (2017), Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross (2016), Ben Vereen (2014); Lainie Kazan, Maurice Hines (2013); Kaye Ballard, Melissa Manchester, Dee Dee Bridgewater (2012); Dionne Warwick, Carol Channing (2011); Mitzi Gaynor, Elaine Stritch (2010); Charles Aznavour, Liza Minnelli (2009); Marilyn Maye (2008); Betty Buckley (2007); Steve Ross (2006); as well as Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, Bobby Short, Eartha Kitt, Barbara Cook, and many others.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is the title sponsor of the Bistro Awards. ASCAP is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP's mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. With more than 735,000 members representing more than 11.5 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. www.ascap.com