Scott Siegel created The Nightlife Awards to gather the three separate
Nightlife niches together – cabaret, jazz and comedy – “to give a more impressive example of the depth and diversity of New York’s club world.” On January 26, 2009 a splendid array of talent was on display at The Town Hall. What makes this Awards show different from all others, is that there are no acceptance speeches the winners strut their stuff and the audience then understands why they have been honored.
Judy Gold, herself a Nightlife Award winner, was the host and kept the energy of the evening up with her irreverent comedy. The show opened with Stephanie J Block (Pirate Queen) performing “Sing Happy” from Flora, The Red Menace accompanied by the Trio for the show led by Musical Director Tedd Firth on piano, Tom Hubbard on bass and Peter Grant on drums.
Jim Caruso introduced the first category, a tie for Outstanding Jazz Combo –
The Hank Jones Quartet (who did not appear) and the 9-piece Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra, performing an exciting instrumental of “Boy in the Boat.” Next Larry Gatlin introduced Allan Harris, winner of Outstanding Jazz Vocalist singing Charles DeForrest’s beautiful “When Do The Bells Ring For Me?” For Outstanding Comic Duo or Group, there was another tie: Kurt Braunohler & Kristen Schall who were not there, but The Improvised Shakespeare Company, introduced by Euan Morton, was brilliant. They take a concept from the audience, someone shouted out “Obama” and through inprovisation, turn it into a Shakespearean Play.
In the Outstanding Piano Bar Entertainer category, the winner was Brandon Cutrell for his Friday night After Party at the Laurie Beechman Theater. He performed a tender ballad called “100 Years.” Tovah Feldshuh introduced the winner of the Outstanding Cabaret Duo or Group in a Major Engagement, the incomparable
Christine Ebersole with Billy Stritch. Christine sang a lovely medley of “Let’s Face The Music and Dance” with Bob Dorough’s “Devil May Care” along with the beautiful “How Are Things in Glocca Morra/” from Finian’s Rainbow. The charming Larry Gatlin accompanied himself on guitar and sang his own song, “Done Enough Dyin’ today.” Next up was Tovah Feldshuh who performed two humorous characterizations -Sophie Tucker singing “I Don’t Wanna Get Thin” and a kevetchy talk show host in “Kaddish & Coffee –Mourning in the Morning.” To close the first act, the winner of Outstanding Cabaret Vocalist was Baby Jane Dexter, performing her anthem “Everybody Hurts Hold on).”
The lively second act opened with Keith Carradine introducing the winners of Outstanding Cabaret Duo or Group – Nashville: Daryl Glenn & Jo Lynn Burks
performing a song from their acclaimed show along with guest artist, Jay Rogers and their whole band….”.It Don’t Worry Me.” John McDaniel introduced
Helen Baldassare, winner of Outstanding Cabaret Comedy or Characterization singing, “Who Put the Sin in Cincinnati?” Norm Lewis brought on the one and
only Freddy Cole, winner of Outstanding Jazz Vocalist in a Major Engagement singing a smooth and soulful “You’re My Thrill.” and the Mercer “How Do You Say AufWiedersehen?”
One of many highlights of the evening was Christine Andreas performing a heartfelt rendition of “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” accompanied by Kenny Asher on piano. The most exciting number was the incredible New York Tap Ensemble starring Chris Erk, Luke Hawkins, Kevin Worley and choreographed by Noah Racey. the director of the show. The four men tap and create an orchestra of sound with their steps and bodies and then Melinda Sullivan, a beautiful young woman, joins them and sang “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” to this extraordinary accompaniment. It was a dazzling performance all around.
Keith Carradine returned to the stage to sing and play the guitar to his Academy Award winning song, “I’m Easy.” To change the pace, Mike Birbiglia, the winner of Outstanding Comedian in A Major Engagement, broke up the audience with
his clever routine describing a medical problem he had in the past. Bob Mackie,
the famous designer to the stars, introduced the amazing Marilyn Maye, winner
of Outstanding Cabaret Vocalist in A Major Engagement. The ageless Marilyn always hits a home run with every performance and her rendition of “Guess Who I Saw Today” was not to be missed. Then she closed with “Put On A Happy Face” and we all hated to see her leave the stage. To close the show, the Nightlife Legend Honoree was introduced by Tommy Tune who described his audition of this star for Nine and hired her on the spot……Karen Akers. Looking elegant as usual, Karen closed the show with “I Was Here.” We were glad that we all were there to witness this terrific evening, being able to see the up and coming new stars as well as the legends in the world of Cabaret, Jazz and Comedy produced by Scott Siegel. For other upcoming Siegel Entertainment events, visit SiegelPresents.com.
By: Linda Amiel Burns