2024 Creative Team

Daryl Kojak—Musical Director /Piano

Daryl Kojak—pianist, arranger, producer, musical director, composer and songwriter—is honored to have worked with a long list of talent, including Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Phoebe Snow, Ben Vereen, Sheila Jordan, Michael Feinstein, Jane Monheit, Cheryl Bentyne, Kristin Chenoweth, Vicki Sue Robinson, George Coleman, Randy Brecker, Sheldon Harnick, Sandra Bernhard, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Mary Testa, Rita Rudner, Richard Belzer, Tiny Tim, Catherine Russell, Laurie Krauz, Heather MacRae, Stephanie Pope, and many others. He has composed and scored music for film, television, stage, artist recordings, and video games and has been honored with the Bistro Award for Outstanding Musical Director, the Caribbean Gospel Music Award for Top Gospel Arranger, the MAC Award for Best Jazz Group, and—with Laurie Krauz—the Bistro Award for Outstanding Theme Show for Tapestry Rewoven.

Rex Benincasa—Drums

Rex Benincasa has been a freelancing drummer and percussionist in New York since 1978. Along with hundreds of television/radio soundtracks and commercial recordings, he has performed with the Concordia Chamber Players, Ba Ban Chinese Music Society, Eurasia Consort, New Music Consort, Apollo’s Fire, Ensemble Caprice, Alba Consort, Flamenco Latino, Carlota Santana Spanish Dance, Andrea Del Conte Danza España, Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre, Pilar Rioja, and Amanecer Flamenco Progressivo. He has recorded CDs and/or movie soundtracks for Marty Balin, Karen Mason, Andrea Marcovicci, Craig Rubano, Jamie deRoy, Stephanie Pope, Foday Musa Suso, Douglas Cuomo, Philip Glass, Sesame Street, and NFL Films to name but a few. Benincasa has played many show scores for all kinds of productions. His Broadway appearances have been with Fosse, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, The Full Monty, Flower Drum Song, Man of La Mancha, Never Gonna Dance, Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hairspray, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Color Purple, Shrek, In the Heights, Billy Elliot, Peter and the Starcatcher, Motown: The Musical, and Mrs. Doubtfire. Rex likes all kinds of music. RexVB@aol.com  

Ritt Henn—Bass

Ritt Henn plays bass, writes songs, and lives in New York City. He’s played Off-Broadway, toured the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and been a featured performer with Carnatic global fusion violinist Dr. L. Subramaniam. He has released four CDs of original music and a DVD of short films, produced over 200 episodes of ManBassBoxTV, and won both Bistro and MAC Awards for his work as a solo artist. Ritt has played for Kathleen Turner, Liz Callaway, Ann Hampton Callaway, Len Cariou, Penny Fuller, Anita Gillette, Chuck Berry, Amanda McBroom, Karen Mason, Bob Malone, and more. He also whistles and plays the ukulele. ManBassBoxTV.com

Jean-Pierre  Perreaux—Sound Design/Engineer

Jean-Pierre Perreaux is currently technical director for the Laurie Beechman and Triad theatres. He was born and raised in France. Combining his background in electronics with his love and study of music, he headed up both the music and technical departments of the Clamart Cultural Center, located outside of Paris. He has designed lights and sound for various nightclubs and theatres in France and the U.S. As sound engineer and/or tech consultant, he has run—and overseen—the lights in many NYC nightclubs and music spaces (Arci’s Place, The Encore, The Metropolitan Room, Barnes & Noble). He was sound designer for the Big Apple Circus from 2011 to 2015. Special assignments include shows in outdoor venues, including events under the Brooklyn Bridge and at the annual music festival in Miami. Jean-Pierre is a Billboard-reviewed record producer and appears on many CDs as a musician and/or producer / sound engineer. He has done sound work on various film and TV projects and was featured as a multifaceted technician in Live Sound magazine. He is the recipient of 12 Manhattan Association of Cabarets Awards for Best Technical Director and for 2024 is receiving MAC’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He received a Bistro Award for Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction in 2002.

Jonny Mercado—Production Stage Manager/Light Design

Jonny Mercado is an actor, musician, and freelance technician who’s been working professionally in New York City since 2014. This is his seventh year as lighting designer for the Bistro Awards, as well as his second year as the event’s Production Stage Manager. He joined the technical staff at the Metropolitan Room in 2015, earning a MAC Award Nomination for his work the following year and in subsequent years as well. His past experience has included being technical manager at Don’t Tell Mama—eventually the club’s associate booking manager—and the booking manager and special events director at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Jonny received his training at the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University and enjoyed a decade of work at Chicago’s Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret before relocating to New York City. He also serves as a member of the Technical Staff at The Players, and is the Director of sacred music at a Roman Catholic parish in Brooklyn where he is also organist and choirmaster.

Steve Hayes—Host

Steve Hayes is a comedian/actor/writer who, for 15 years, has hosted YouTube’s Steve Hayes: Tired Old Queen at the Movies. He was a guest host on Turner Classic Movies, celebrating their 20th anniversary— introducing the sci-fi classic Them!, along with Robert Osborne. As a film actor, he starred in Trick, The Big Gay Musical, and Hooked. He has been a regular in the New York Comedy/Cabaret scene for over four decades, having appeared at such clubs as The Duplex, Panache, Trude Heller’s, and The Ballroom. Most recently, he’s been a regular at Pangea. He’s performed his theatrical one-person shows TOQ Live! and Steve Hayes: Hollywood Reunion nationwide. He’s a Bistro Award recipient and a three-time MAC Award winner and nine-time nominee.  Around the country he has played numerous musical-theatre roles, including the Major General in The Pirates of Penzance (Terrence Mann, director), Edna in Hairspray, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast, and Albin/Zaza in La Cage Aux Folles. He directed Almost, Maine at The Red House Arts Center in Syracuse, winning the SALT Best Director award.

Sidney Myer—Announcer

Sidney Myer has been seen on screen most recently in the six-time Emmy-winning Amazon Prime series After Forever, Seasons 1 & 2. He has entertained from Palm Springs to London and is a recipient of MAC, Bistro, Broadway World, Theater Pizzazz, Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Cabaret Classic, Mabel Mercer, and Paula Laurence Awards. Sidney has been a cabaret booking manager for four decades (Don’t Tell Mama, Rose’s Turn, Panache). Off-Broadway credits include Grandma Sylvia’s Funeral, Dressing Room, and Split Ends. Other theatre: 25th Anniversary Revival of Irene, Kaye Playhouse; Edinburgh Festival Fringe with La Gran Scena Opera Co.; Beauty and the Beast, Theatre By the Sea; Times Square Angel with Charles Busch; The Boys in the BandLaughing WildThe Ball. Film: 20th Century Fox’s Headin’ for Broadway. Television: Celebrity interviewer on cable’s Broadway Beat and Cabaret Beat, and on a Nancy LaMott DVD, I’ll Be Here With You. Commercials: RCA Victor, New York Lotto. Radio: Regular on The Joey Reynolds Show

Evan Seplow—Web Producer and Videographer

Evan Seplow is a film and video director, producer, writer, shooter, editor, and graphics specialist. He has worked on features, shorts, commercials, music videos, and corporate films, as well as marketing and promotional films and events—including live action, animation, and livestreamed and broadcast events. His clients include Fortune 500 companies such as Nike, Disney, Avon, Sony, Reuters, Miss America, and more. He has also worked with a huge number of Broadway shows and tours, among them Macbeth with Daniel Craig, Plaza Suite with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Some Like it Hot, and the upcoming Broadway version of Steven Spielberg’s TV show, Smash. His company can be found on the web at imagefactory.tv.

Frank Dain—Program and Promo Design

Frank Dain has designed the Bistro Awards program since 2010. He has been the Editor of Cabaret Scenes magazine since 2013 and was honored for his 20 years at the magazine at a star-studded event in December 2022. He is the treasurer for the American Songbook Association, the Advisory Board of the Mabel Mercer Foundation, and served on the Board of the Manhattan Association of Cabarets for eight years. He has provided designs for Kurt Peterson’s James William Productions (Proud LadiesWhen Everything Was PossibleZero HourCaptain Louis), St. Luke’s Theatre, Theatre at St. Clement’s, and for many cabaret performers. Frank is a MAC nominee for Male Vocalist, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Café Pierre, Waldorf-Astoria, Jazz at Kitano, Don’t Tell Mama, Laurie Beechman Theatre, Metropolitan Room, Pangea, Chelsea Table + Stage, and Danny’s Skylight Room. His CD, I Thought About You, received high praise and extensive radio play. He has served as one of the permanent judges for Don’t Tell Mama’s talent contest, Mama’s Next BIG Act!, since its inception. Look for the release of his new CD later this year. frankdain.com

Bob Peterson—Logo Design

Bob Peterson, a director and digital artist/animator, comes to the Bistro Awards with more than 35 years’ experience in multimedia design and production. He is the lead animator for the Exhibitions Department at the American Museum of Natural History. His animations and designs have been viewed on Broadway in The Normal Heart (Hewes Award for projection design), Lucky Guy, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. His past work has included permanent installations for the British Olympic Museum in London, Russia’s first Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, and the Museum of Tolerance in Chattanooga, Tennessee.