On Monday night, Sherry Eaker, the former longtime Editor-in Chief of Back Stage, presented the 33rd Annual Bistro Awards Gala at Gotham Comedy Club in New York.
Tony Award winning choreographer and director George Faison (The Wiz) presented André De Shields, a two-time Tony nominee, Drama Desk nominee, Emmy winner and multi-Audelco Award and Outer Critics Circle Award winner, with the 2018 Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award, the Bistro Awards’ highest honor, for his five decades of stage and nightclub accomplishments.
The actor-singer-dancer-choreographer made his mark on Broadway in the title role of The Wiz, which was followed by the long-running Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stardust: The Mitchell Parish Musical, Play On!, and The Full Monty. Mr. De Shields embraced cabaret early on. Beginning in the ’70s, he created a string of original shows that performed at such landmark New York clubs as Gypsy’s, the Grand Finale, Reno Sweeney, Les Mouches, the Club at La MaMa, the Horn of Plenty, Greene Street, as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London. In 1984, he co-wrote, choreographed, co-directed, and starred in the Broadway musical revue Andre De Shields’ Haarlem Nocturne. More recent appearances have included Joe’s Pub and the Laurie Beechman Theatre.
Shellen Lubin was at the helm of the Bistro Awards’ festivities for the sixth year in a row, which featured performances by all of the 2018 Bistro Award winners. The Bistros Band included Daryl Kojak (musical director and piano), Rex Benicasa (drums and percussion) and Ritt Henn (bass).
The grand finale of the evening featured, Mr. De Shields, his back up singers – Marlene Daniels and Freida Williams, Larry Spivak, Daryl Kojak (piano), Rex Benincasa (drums and percussion) and Ritt Henn (bass).
Check out the video below which features Mr. Faison presenting the award to Mr. De Shields and excerpts of his performance. (video produced by Bev’s Girl Films’ Garth Kravits and Lia Chang.
Ms. Eaker, the producer of the event since its inception, heads up the Awards Committee that includes BistroAwards.com critics Gerry Geddes, Roy Sander, Robert Windeler, and Mark Dundas Wood. Sander is also the award show’s associate producer; Wendy Lane Bailey is the assistant producer.
Congrats to all of the winners. Check out the full list below and the run of show.
Outstanding Contributions to the Art of Jazz
“Better Than Anything”/”Dat Dere”
“Let’s Get Away From It All”/”How About You” (Dawn Derow)
Outstanding Creative Artistry
“Gotta Get Up”
Outstanding Theme Show – Carried Away
Amy Beth Williams
“Story of Isaac”
ASCAP Award for Outstanding Revue – It Helps to Sing About It: The Songs of Ben Schaechter & Dan Kael
Ben Schaechter, Dan Kael, Sara Louise Lazarus
Outstanding Tribute Show – Thank You for Your Love: Our Celebration of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt
Starring Carole Demas and Sarah Rice (both of whom played Luisa in the original production of The Fantasticks), directed by Charles Repole, and with accompaniment by musical director Joe Goodrich on piano and Maria Banks on harp and illuminating projections by producer Stuart J. Allyn, it is rich with marvelous singing, trenchant song interpretations, and a great deal of heart.
“A Man and a Woman”
Outstanding Solo Play – A Life Behind Bars
Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award
Mary Sue Daniels
“When I Was a Boy”
Outstanding New York Debut
“Up On the Roof”
Outstanding Instrumentalists Award
Peter and Will Anderson
“Cheek to Cheek”
Outstanding Producer’s Award
“Beat Up Old Guitar”
Consummate Cabaret Artistry
“I’m Still Here”
Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award
André De Shields
“Let the Good Times Roll”
Accompanied by Marlene Daniels, Freida Williams, Larry Spivack, Daryl Kojak (musical director and piano), Rex Benicasa (drums and percussion) and Ritt Henn (bass).
The BISTRO AWARDS has been recognizing, encouraging, nurturing, and educating cabaret, jazz and comedy artists for 33 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 12th 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.
Some of the Bistro’s special honorees have included Darlene Love (2017), Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross (2016), Ben Vereen (2014); Lainie Kazan and Maurice Hines (2013); Kaye Ballard, Melissa Manchester, and Dee Dee Bridgewater (2012); Dionne Warwick and Carol Channing (2011); Mitzi Gaynor and Elaine Stritch (2010); Charles Aznavour and 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.
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Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com