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The 15th Annual Bistro Awards-

And the Winner Is...

Fifteen years ago, a little more than a year after he began writing the "Bistro Bits" column in Back Stage, the late Bob Harrington decided to give awards to cabaret performers and artists to recognize the outstanding work they had done during the year. Little did Bob know then how his Bistro Award would continue to grow in importance to become the prestigious award that it is today.

But what Bob did know for sure was how to spot talent. Many of his favorite performers, some of whom were just starting out in the mid-1980s, are very prominent on the cabaret scene today and/or have become successful in other areas of entertainment as well.

John Hoglund and Roy Sander, Back Stage's columnists for the 1999 cabaret year, also know how to spot talent, as they've clearly demonstrated once again, in their choice of winners for the 2000 Bistro Awards. Their decisions were based on covering a lot of club acts throughout the year, and on abiding by the Bistro guidelines.

What are the Bistro guidelines?

The Bistro Awards recognize achievement in a wide variety of categories-from outstanding performances to outstanding accomplishments by members of the cabaret community. They are not limited in nature. New categories can easily be drawn up each year as they best describe the recipients, and categories can be dropped as well.

The object is not to choose the "best" anything-of-the-year, but to recognize and congratulate the accomplishments of those who have done something special during the year-in this case, during 1999.

Sometimes the Back Stage Bistro recognizes performers who are newly arrived on the scene; sometimes it acknowledges a performer who has shown growth in his or her art during the past few years. It also recognizes those who have spent their entire careers dedicated to the art (our Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award).

The Bistro is a one-time honor. If previous winners weren't excluded from consideration each year the awards would be glutted with their names-each winner would most likely have to be reconsidered annually because of the high quality of the work he or she does. So if you feel that a name has been omitted in a particular category when you're looking over the list of winners that follows, it's most likely because that person is a previous winner. There are 722 winners listed in our Bistro "Hall of Fame," not including this year's winners!

It fascinates me how cabaret always presents a new wealth of talent year after year-beginners, professionals who are newcomers to cabaret, and veterans in the biz. So even when previous winners are excluded when making selections for Bistro recipients, there are always so many new names and faces to consider.

So, without further ado, here are the winners of the 2000 Back Stage Bistro Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cabaret. (Note that we are saving the name of the recipient of the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be announced at the awards ceremony.)

VOCALIST: Alexandra Haas at the FireBird Caf ; Lynn

Lobban at Don't Tell Mama; Carlos Mart"n at Don't

Tell Mama; and Lennie Watts at Don't Tell Mama.

MAJOR ENGAGEMENT: Faith Prince at the FireBird

Caf and Joe's Pub.

MUSICAL-COMEDY: Lea DeLaria at Joe's Pub.

SINGER/INSTRUMENTALIST: Michael Garin at The

Duplex and the Monkey Bar.

MUSICAL REVUE: "Hard Candy: The Songs of Carol

Hall," at Danny's Skylight Room, written by Carol

Hall, conceived, directed, and musical directed by

Mark Nadler.

THEME SHOW: "Toujours Cabaret" at Don't Tell Mama starring Sigrid Sunstedt; "Looking Around Corners For You" at Danny's Skylight Room, conceived, researched by, and starring Heather Gilchriest; writ- ten, directed, and staged by Gary Lyons.

MUSICAL GROUP: The Howard Fishman Quartet at

The Oak Room at The Algonquin, Tramps, and

Danny's Skylight Room.

SONGWRITER: Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich.

SPECIAL MATERIAL: "Play Your Song For Me Blues"

by Tom Andersen.

MUSICAL DIRECTION: David Maiocco.

COMEDY PERFORMER: Rich Vos.

RECORDING: David Gurland for "David Gurland";

Dane Vannatter for "Flight"; and Paula West for

"Restless."

SPECIAL AWARD: Karen Miller, Erv Raible, and Rochelle Seldin for Eighty Eight's-one of NewYork's most beloved cabarets and piano bars-for nurturing new talent and presenting some of the industry's finest performers for over 11 years; Ruby Rims for Teddycare, for bringing close to a decade of holiday cheer to countless hospitalized "children of all ages"; John Wallowitch and Bertram Ross, for many years of delightful entertainment.

The Bistro Awards will be presented on Monday, February 28 at The Supper Club (and details about purchasing tickets can be found in our ad on page 21). The gala evening includes a reception, awards presentation and show, followed by a buffet supper. The show will be directed by Thomas Mills, and our guest emcee will once again be Jim David, our 1998 Bistro winner for comedy performer. Hosting the show will be Roy, John, and me.

To kick off Cabaret Month in March, Back Stage is publishing a special issue on Feb. 25, featuring interviews with 15 Bistro Award winners, representing the 15 years that Bistro Awards have been given out from 1985 to 2000. In "Cabaret-The Success Stories," these 15 performers will discuss, with writers David Finkle, John Hoglund, and Roy Sander, the paths their careers have taken since they received their award or since they first began performing in cabaret.

Back Stage will also be hosting a panel on Tuesday, March 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at Don't Tell Mama, 343 W. 46th St. David and John will moderate the discussion with five or six of the performers interviewed in the special cabaret issue. Ads for "Success Stories: Cabaret Artists Talk on How They Got Where They Are" will be appearing in Back Stage within the next two weeks noting additional details.

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