NEW YORK, NY – On Monday June 1, 2015 the 33 rd Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards, which recognizes outstanding achievement in dance on Broadway and in film each season, honored Broadway legend Joel Grey as well as film and theater producer Harvey Weinstein at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. The gala evening was hosted by Two-Time Drama Desk Award nominated Actress Christina Bianco.
Each year the event is presented by Patricia Watt, the Producer of the Astaire Awards and The Douglas Watt Family Fund for the Performing Arts, as well as The Fred Astaire International Dance Studios. the event began with a VIP cocktail reception followed by the show and awards presentation. For the first time, the awards were live-streamed across the United States.
Legendary Film and Stage Actor and the Recipient of The Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award, Mr. Joel Grey AT the 33rd Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards on Monday June 1, 2015. Photo by Andrew Cohen, Long Island Exchange.
On the red carpet Patricia and I talked about the latest accomplishments and what the Fred Astaire and Adele Awards means to her.
You have done this event for so many years and it is a real passion of yours to put this event together every single year. How many years have you been doing this event?
Patricia: Since 2008.
Tell my audience about tonight’s event. What can we expect?
Patricia: It’s the first year we are going to have the member of Broadway shows performing in a week that has the Tony’s and it’s kind of unprecedented. So it’s a very special show because of that. We have a lot of support from the Broadway community. We always have support from them but more so than ever.
Patricia you are doing a terrific job!
Patricia: Thank you.
As we say in show business, “Break a leg!”
Patricia: Thank you.
Tell my audience the website where we can go to find out more information.
Patricia: Thank you, thank you Cognac
During the cocktail reception I also had the chance to interview Broadway Actor and Veteran Lee Roy Reams who expressed the importance of supporting the dancers.
Lee Roy tell my audience how many years you have been coming to this event?
Lee Roy: Well I am on the board of the Astaire Awards. I have been associated with the Awards when Patricia Watt became a producer and because all of us love Broadway dancing and who grew up in it and all my credits state that. You know we go back as far as…..with me it was Richard Rodgers revival of “Oklahoma” through “Applause,” “Hello Dolly,” “The Producers,” of course “42nd Street,” Beauty and the Beast,” so many shows but the important thing is the back bone of the theater are he dancers and they don’t always get the applause and the credit that they deserve and that’s what this award is all about.
Thank God, right!
Lee Roy: Yes, because of Fred and and Adele Astaire. It’s so important for people who do love dancing and the Broadway theater that they support the dancers and this is the only organization that does that and also gives so much credit and awards to those people. Support the dancers because they are the heart and back bone of the theater.
The highlight of my evening was interviewing Legendary Film and Stage Actor and the Recipient of The Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award, Mr. Joel Grey.
Mr. Grey attended the event with his daughter Actress Jennifer Grey who presented The Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award to her famous father.
There was not a dry eye in the theater at that moment including Jennifer who had to wipe away her tears.
Welcome back darlings, I am Cognac Wellerlane. I am here at the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards and I am here with two tremendous talents Jennifer Grey and of course her wonderful father Joel Grey.
Joel: That’s me.
Tell my audience, your father of course is receiving a phenomenal award but can you tell me Jennifer what was his one single advice that he gave you when you first started show business?
Jennifer: I think he is a living example and that is the best advice to ever get from anyone is to watch what people do not what they say and what he does is he doesn’t stop.
He doesn’t stop, does he?
Jennifer: He doesn’t and he gets deeper and more interesting and more soulful and more beautiful with every day.
You must be so proud of her. Tell me what does this award mean to you?
Joel: Well for a non-trained dancer it’s like Nirvana because I never really learned how to do it and I was the horror of so many choreographers!
Jennifer: Me too!!! We have that in common.
What was your most challenging role?
Joel: George M
Jennifer: You know he taught himself how to tap for that part.
Joel: No I didn’t Bob Awdy taught me.
Jennifer: He taught you for the job?
At that moment supporters and guests left the cocktail reception to view the awards ceremony so I expressed my gratitude.
Thank you both so much!
Joel: It’s good to see you!
When accepting his award, Joel Grey opened by saying, “I’m reminded that I’ve always been in love with dance and always will.”
His path to dance was a rough one, he said sharing stories of his childhood dance teacher yelling at him for having a tough time breaking into dance. His first paid performance was in a Jones Beach Dance show called Mardi Gras. After nearly giving up, Hal Prince gave him a call for a show he thought he’d be good for, which was Cabaret. To conclude, he thanked a litany of top Broadway choreographers for helping him with his career including Kathleen Marshall and Bob Fosse.
“My life was in their hands and they gave it to me,” he said.
Honorary Committee members include: Karole Armitage, Rob Ashford, Hinton Battle, Marisa Berenson, Anna Bergman, Patricia Birch, Chase Brock, Tricia Brouk, Ron Brown, Sharon Bush, Jeff Calhoun, Warren Carlyle, Marge Champion, Wayne Cilento, Louis Hirschfeld Cullman, Judy Gordon Cox, Arlene Dahl, Jacques D’Amboise, Graciela Daniele, Peter Darling, Marguerite Derricks, Kelly Devine, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Eve Ensler, Daniel Ezralow, Jules Fisher, Roberta Flack, Mario Fratti, Christopher Gattelli, Mitzi Gaynor, Kearran Giovanni, Savion Glover, Joel Grey, Peggy Hickey, Steven Hoggett, JoAnn Hunter, Anne Jackson, Susan Jaffee, Denis Jones, Paul Katz, Larry Keigwin, Daniel Knechtges, Spencer Liff, Michele Lynch, Kathleen Marshall, Rob Marshall, Julie McDonald, Donna McKechnie, Joey McKneely, Stephen Mear, Liza Minnelli, Jerry Mitchell, Bebe Neuwirth, Phyllis Newman, Casey Nicholaw, Marsha Norman, Kenny Ortega, Robert Osbourne, Jeffrey Page, Daniel Pelzig, Jane Powell, Josh Prince, Ann Reinking, Michael Rubinstein, Wendy Seyb, Lisa Schriver, Randy Skinner, Victoria Traube, Sergio Trujillo, Anthony van Laast, Chet Walker, Patti Wilcox, Matt Williams.
The Fred & Adele Astaire Awards were established in 1982 to recognize outstanding achievement in dance on Broadway and in film. The annual awards were established with the cooperation of Fred Astaire to also honor his sister Adele, who starred with her brother in ten Broadway musicals between 1917 and 1931. The Fred & Adele Awards remain the gold standard for excellence in dance and choreography on Broadway and film. Since 1982, additional awards have been added, including the award for best choreography in film, the lifetime achievement award, and a unique award determined annually for exceptional contribution to the field.
For more information, visit www.theastaireawards.org