Astaire and Kleban Awards Presented

Musical talent on stage and off was honored on Monday, June 1, when the Kleban and Astaire awards were presented in separate ceremonies. The Klebans, named for the late lyricist Ed Kleban (A Chorus Line), go to the most promising lyricist and librettist of the year, while the Astaires, named for the legendary Fred Astaire and his onstage partner and sister Adele, are for the outstanding dancers and choreographer in theatre and film.

The Klebans were presented to lyricist Beth Falcone and librettist Kait Kerrigan at BMI at a cocktail reception. Excerpts from Falcone's Wanda's World and Kerrigan's Henry & Mudge were performed. The awards were established in 1988 through the estate of Edward Kleban that made a provision for two annual grants in the amount of $10,000 payable over two years.

The Astaires went to David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish, the three young men who alternate the leading role of Billy Elliot (best male dancer); Pia Glenn, who did a comic imitation of Condoleeza Rice opposite Will Ferrell in You're Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush (best female dancer); Peter Darling (best Broadway choreographer for Billy Elliot) and Longines Fernandes (best film choreographer for Slumdog Millionaire). Alan Cumming hosted the ceremony, which was held at the Fashion Institute of America.

Liza Minnelli presented the 2009 Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award to Stanley Donen, director (with Gene Kelly) of the Hollywood musical classics Singin' in the Rain, as well as On the Town. Other presenters included Savion Glover, Bebe Neuwirth, and Geoffrey Rush.