Review: 25th Annual Bistro Awards

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Bistro_AwardsYou say Bis-troh, the French say Bee-stroh, let’s call the whole thing LONG…Now, is it Bis-troh or is it Bee-stroh? There were varied opinions expressed last night, but Rex Reed’s was the best, “Go to France and say Bis-troh and you’ll get slapped.”

The Bistro Awards ceremony is 25 years old, and since it’s my first time attending I didn’t know what to expect. It didn’t start well. The event started well over 30 minutes late, due to the evident lack of a proper seating plan. Even though I had reservations with a table number, that table was already full and I was left standing until the 4th awardee went on. I can forgive that – it happens. What I cannot forgive is almost 4 hours of speeches.

Ok, I exaggerate, a little. It was more like 3 hours and 45 minutes. I admit that I’ve been spoiled by the wonderful Nightlife Awards (see my review here), held recently. Since the awards were announced weeks before, all the winners had to do was to go on stage and perform! No long "Thank Yous." What a concept! All award shows should run to copy this formula.

Aside from a few missed cues and wrong info cards, the evening went smoothly. Loli_Marquiz_SterlingOf the winners who did perform, there were some great performances. Loli Marquez-Sterling did a wonderful number that gave us the flair of the Latin Quarter of old. Alan Cumming’s very funny “American” had the audience laughing, as did Tovah Feldshuh’s hysterical parody honoring the Bistros and her dead pan recitation of Ivana Trump's book for Celebrity Autobiography. Cheyenne Jackson reminded us why we love him as did Liz Callaway, Sarah Rice and, of course, Gretchen Reinhagen. Other notables were Danielle Grabianowski, Anne Steele, Julie Reyburn and rounding out the evening, Brett Kristofferson, Mark Janas, I’ve Got a Little Twist, Lee Summers, Richard Eisenberg and the amazing Raissa Katona Bennett and friends. Marilyn Sokol’s bit in Spanish was beyond words and co-host Jim David rocked his few moments of comedy on stage, going as far as razzing Michael Feinstein’s absence from the ceremony. Then there were the greats, Donna McKechnie, Elaine Stritch and Mitzi Gaynor.

Elaine_StritchWith all that talent in one room, what could be bad? The speeches, the unending speeches. Some awardees went on as long as 10-15 minutes. There was no red light or 20-piece orchestra to play them off so they went on and on and on. I would much rather have heard them perform, since that’s what we are awarding them for.

Which brings up another issue. While I understand that some celebrities are very busy people, running from one event to another and may have had something else to attend that same evening, The Bistro Awards have a unique quality about them. They honor both the very famous, and the not-yet-so-very-famous. Why was it that some awardees got up to accept their awards and then packed up and left? It almost looked like those who didn’t leave stayed, because they hadn’t received their awards yet. We talk about supporting the Cabaret community - how is that supporting the community? Whether you are getting an award or attending as a guest, you should stay and honor all the participants.

One idea might be to schedule the celebrity honorees at the end of the show. That way everyone would be inclined to stick it out until the very end. Of course, cutting the lengthy speeches would then be a must. Think about it – it just might make you want to attend more award shows, since they would be performance oriented and, well, FUN!

Directed by Eric Michael Gillett, produced by Sherry Eaker, Richard Skipper Eric_Michael_Gillettassociate producer. Hosted by Sherry Eaker, with co-hosts Klea Blackhurst, comic Jim David and actress-comedienne Marilyn Sokol. David Brian Colbert was the Stage Manager and Sound and Lighting by the always spot on, Jean Pierre Perreaux.

The Bistro Awards Committee is comprised of: Elizabeth Ahlfors, Sherry Eaker, David Finkle, Rob Lester, Erv Raible and Roy Sander.

The complete list of winners follows in order of presentation:

Loli Marquez-Sterling/Entertainer/ The Triad, The Metropolitan Room

Alan Cumming/Recording, I Bought a Blue Car Today

Liz Callaway/ Major Engagement/ The Metropolitan Room

Elaine Stritch/Extraordinary Cabaret Artist

Danielle Grabianowski/Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award/ The Metropolitan Room, Don't Tell Mama

Michael Feinstein ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Duo Shows/ Feinstein's at Loews Regency

Cheyenne Jackson ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Duo Shows/ Feinstein's at Loews Regency

The Salon/Special Award/Created and hosted by Mark Janas / The Algonquin Hotel

Julie Reyburn/Recording, Live at Feinstein's

Paul Trueblood The Bistro Silver Anniversary Awards For Ongoing Artistic Accomplishment

Ronny Whyte The Bistro Silver Anniversary Awards For Ongoing Artistic Accomplishment

Tovah Feldshuh The Bistro Silver Anniversary Awards For Ongoing Artistic Accomplishment

Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words, created by Eugene Pack/ Comedy Series/ The Triad

Peter Napolitano/BMI Award for Director

Mitzi Gaynor/Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award

The Concerts at Tudor City Greens/Special Award/Created and produced by Raissa Katona Bennett

Lee Summers/Entertainer/The Triad

Brett Kristofferson/Songwriter

Richard Eisenberg/"Two Again"/Special Material

Sarah Rice, Screen Gems - Songs of Old Hollywood/ Theme Show/ Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café

Anne Steele/Vocalist/ The Metropolitan Room

I've Got a Little Twist, conceived, written, and directed by David Auxier, musical direction and arrangements by Mark York, produced by Albert Bergeret/ Special Award/ The Triad, Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café

Gretchen Reinhagen, Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard/ Tribute Show/ The Metropolitan Room

The following artists were unable to attend:

Christine Ebersole ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Duo Shows/ Feinstein's at Loews Regency

David Hyde Pierce ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Duo Shows/ Feinstein's at Loews Regency

Nicole Henry/Jazz Vocalist/ The Metropolitan Room

For complete info about the reviewer, please go to

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Cabaret Scenes May June 2016

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