The 37th Annual Bistro Awards Honors
21 Exceptional Musical Artists
at Its Gala on May 16
Beth Leavel, The Royal Bopsters, Quinn Lemley, Susie Mosher Among the Recipients
Along with Previously Announced Grammy-Winning
Songwriter and Performer Jimmy Webb
(New York, April 7, 2022) —Twenty-one musical artists will be recognized for their outstanding achievements at the 37th annual Bistro Awards gala on Monday, May 16, at Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd Street, Manhattan.
As previously announced, three-time Grammy-winning songwriter and performer Jimmy Webb will receive the ASCAP-Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award for his musical and storytelling accomplishments over a career of five-plus decades. Webb is the only person to have won Grammys for music, lyrics, and orchestration; his chart-topping songs include “Up, Up, and Away,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “Didn’t We,” and “MacArthur Park,” among many others. His singing career has included appearances over the decades at New York City cabaret venues, and his songs live on in clubs and concert halls the world over.
Stage and film actor, musical comedian, and star of her own weekly variety show, The Lineup, Susie Mosher is surely the host with the most and is ready to roll with anything. The Bistro Committee will recognize her virtuosity with an award for excellence in Variety Show Hosting and Performance. And—bonus points for us—Mosher will also be hosting the 37th annual event.
Beth Leavel showed us that she is as at home on the cabaret stage as she is on Broadway stages. A welcome throwback to the Golden Age of nightclub acts, Leavel will receive her Excellence in Musical Comedy award in recognition of “her mastery of comedy and her billion-dollar belt.”
Flotilla DeBarge comes from a generation of drag artists that truly understand the tradition of the art form. They use it not only to get laughs but also to make social and political commentary while bringing their audiences into the mix. DeBarge is being recognized for Outstanding Drag Artistry for more than 30 years of her eye-popping costumes, outrageous and heartfelt observations, quick-witted and snide remarks, and the delight she brings to audiences everywhere.
A spectacular singer with an amazing ability to understand and convey a song’s lyric, stage and screen actor and recording artist Sally Wilfert has been likened to the legendary Barbara Cook, but for a new generation. For her talents and skills, we honor her with our award for Vocal Artistry.
The four individuals that make up the jazz vocal quartet The Royal Bopsters are all composers, lyricists, arrangers, and teachers, and they bring their vast knowledge of and infectious excitement for this art form to their performance. Amy London, Pete McGuinness, Jeanne O’Connor, and Dylan Pramuk will each be honored with a Bistro Award for Outstanding Jazz Artistry.
A spectacular musical performer on theatre and cabaret stages, Blaine Alden Krauss has demonstrated expansive range and a finely honed ability to convey stories and emotions. These strengths have earned him this year’s Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award. The award is given to an outstanding performer on the rise and was named after Back Stage’s co-founder and co-publisher—and the publication’s very first nightclub critic.
Not only does performer Quinn Lemley bear a striking resemblance to film star Rita Hayworth, but her skills as singer, dancer, and actress also help make her portrayal of this Hollywood sex symbol uncannily convincing. Her award for Unique Biography-Based Cabaret Experience is well-deserved.
Performing a show about yourself without becoming self-indulgent is no easy task. Yet singer-actress Claudine Cassan-Jellison, along with her team—director Barry Kleinbort and musical director David Gaines—manages to share her story with heart, passion, warmth, and humor, leaving the audience wanting to know even more. Bravo to the team of Hey, Frenchy! Stories and Songs from the Pantry for outstanding achievement for an Autobiographical Show.
Bossa Tap Trio celebrates Brazilian music in their own singular way: Felipe Galganni taps to the rhythm of the music of the most iconic of Brazilian composers while the music is played effortlessly by Grammy-nominated pianist Helio Alves and sung tenderly by Jackie Ribas. For their innovative fusion of talents, the group will take home an award for Unique Jazz Presentation.
Amy Jo Jackson’s show The Brass Menagerie can be considered a CliffsNotes guide to the women of Tennessee Williams’s plays. Jackson artfully and cheekily plays all the women while singing parodies of well-known Broadway show tunes. It’s simultaneously intelligent and hilarious, and Jackson’s outstanding Creative Characterization award is more than well-deserved.
Ari Axelrod bares his soul in Ari’s Arias to brilliant success, using his finely honed skills as an actor-singer and his incredible ability to connect with his audiences. He also dares to say and do things on the stage that might not work as well in the hands of someone less accomplished and confident. This award celebrates his Theatrical Artistry in Song and, we hope, will encourage him to continue to share his talents.
Two awards are being presented for Outstanding Recording, both of which were released in 2020. The Bistro Committee decided to consider 2020 releases because no awards, except Lifetime Achievement, were presented in 2021. These recognitions go to Gay Marshall and Kim David Smith.
Marshall,with her beautifully fashioned CD Back on Boogie Street—Songs of Leonard Cohen, offersus her personal interpretations of this musical icon’s works, and hers is a rare and fitting tribute.
Kim David Smith—Live at Joe’s Pub is a rousing collection of material that Smith has presented at downtown clubs and cabarets over the years—a smart and sophisticated blend of Weimar, Motown, and pop that displays Smith’s passion, intelligence, and commitment to his art.
The evening’s musicians include the award show’s resident maestro, Musical Director Daryl Kojak (piano), along with Sean Conly (bass) and Dwayne “Cook” Broadnax (drums).
For the ninth year in a row, Shellen Lubin will direct the Bistro Awards show. A theatre director, playwright, songwriter, and vocal and acting coach, she has been at the forefront of the move to attain parity for women in the arts through her affiliations with the League of Professional Theatre Women and Women in the Arts & Media Coalition.
The gala event will be held on Monday, May 16, at 7:00 pm at Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd Street in Manhattan. Sherry Eaker, the former longtime Editor-in Chief of Back Stage and the producer of the event since its inception in 1985, heads up the BistroAwards.com roster of writers and critics. This team includes Gerry Geddes, Mark Dundas Wood, Penelope Thomas, Lisa Jo Sagolla, and Betsyann Faiella.
Mark Dundas Wood and Wendy-Lane Bailey are the show’s Associate Producers; Gerry Geddes is Production and Creative Consultant.
Tickets range from $75.00 to $275.00. Ticket buyers in all categories are invited to the Bistro After Party as guests of the Bistro Awards. For details about the various ticket categories and early-purchase prices, visit www.BistroAwards.com. For additional information, call or text: 917-239-5467.
Following is a complete list of artists who, we believe, attained outstanding achievement over the course of the 2020 and 2021 performance years and/or for their body of work:
IMMY WEBB / ASCAP-Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award
SUSIE MOSHER / Variety Show Hosting and Performance
BETH LEAVEL / Excellence in Musical Comedy (It’s Not About Me)
FLOTILLA DEBARGE / Consummate Drag Artistry
SALLY WILFERT / Vocal Artistry (How Did I End Up Here?)
THE ROYAL BOPSTERS / Jazz Artistry
BLAINE ALDEN KRAUSS / Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award
QUINN LEMLEY / Unique Biography-Based Cabaret Experience (Rita Hayworth: The Heat Is On!)
CLAUDINE CASSAN-JELLISON, DAVID GAINES, BARRY KLEINBORT for Hey, Frenchy! Stories and Songs from the Pantry / Outstanding Autobiographical Show
BOSSA TAP TRIO (Felipe Galgani, Helio Alves, Jackie Ribas) / Unique Jazz Presentation
AMY JO JACKSON / Creative Characterization (The Brass Menagerie)
ARI AXELROD / Theatrical Artistry in Song (Ari’s Arias)
GAY MARSHALL / Recording (Back on Boogie Street—Songs of Leonard Cohen)
KIM DAVID SMITH / Recording (Kim David Smith—Live at Joe’s Pub)