By: Paulanne Simmons
April 19, 2023: At the beginning of the 38th Bistro Awards on April 17, Sherry Eaker, who has been producing the event for 30 years, remembered that her first year on the job, the show was in the Ballroom in Chelsea, and Rosemary Clooney was an honoree. She also reminded the audience that when Bob Harrington created the awards in 1985, he made them non-competitive. He just wanted to recognize performers’ achievements. No one can win in the same category more than once. There’s just that much talent in the cabaret world.
In fact, one of the nicest features of the Bistro Awards is that they allow the lucky attendees to see their favorite performers not only accept their awards but also show everyone why they are receiving them. For example, Tim Connell, who won the award for vocalist, sang an emotional rendition of Karen Carpenter’s “Sing a Song”; Tawanda, who won for jazz vocalist set the room sizzling with “Too Darn Hot”; and Ronny Whyte, who received the ASCAP-Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award, consoled the rich with his “Hampton’s Blues.”
Of course, there were the usual thank-yous. Honorees expressed their gratitude to their grandparents, their colleagues, the strangers who came to see them, the Bistro Board and New York City.
And the honorees drew inspiration from many famous people. There were quotes from the likes of Irving Berlin and Federico Garcia Lorca. This should not be surprising, considering so many shows paid homage to other talents who came before. Josephine Sanges won for her Fanny Brice tribute show, “The Funny Girl in Me.” Ann Talman won for her musical memoir “Elizabeth Taylor and the Shadow of Her Smile.” Danny Bolero won for his musical characterization of Desi Arnaz.
The Bistro Awards were hosted by Dame Edna (a.k.a Scott F. Mason), who reminded the audience Madison Square Garden is round and confided she loves her octogenarian gynecologist because his hands shake.
Needless to say, a good time was had by all.