Karen Mason: Mason at Mama’s in May

| May 24, 2017

Karen Mason

Mason at Mama’s in May

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, May 22, 2017

Reviewed by Peter Haas for Cabaret Scenes

Karen Mason
Photo: Russ Weatherford

What makes a great cabaret show? Cabaret-goers know. It starts with a singer with a top-of-the line voice … someone with the intelligence and acting chops to interpret and project a song’s essence … the honest warmth of personality to hold an audience’s affectionate attention … and great songs to sing. That’s the combination that has been filling the house for Mason at Mama’s in May—Karen Mason, that is—performing Sunday and Monday nights throughout May at Don’t Tell Mama.

The show represents Mason’s latest return to the club: she was the first performer to sing there when it opened in 1982. Since then, she has starred on Broadway, Off-Broadway, on television, and on records. This newest cabaret outing, with warm and melodious piano accompaniment by Christopher Denny, includes a bright mixture of popular and theater songs.

Among the former: “Love Is Here to Stay” (by the Gershwins); “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” (James F. Hanley); “You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want to Do It)” (James V. Monaco/Joseph McCarthy); and the classic “Over the Rainbow” (Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg).

But it is with her theater songs that Mason shines most brightly. Among them are her moving performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Mr. Snow”; Sondheim’s “Broadway Baby”; Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion’s “The Impossible Dream”; Meredith Willson’s “Till There Was You,” and Jule Styne/Comden and Green’s  “Just in Time.” A grand detour is her hilarious parody of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s “Sunset Boulevard”—the title song from that show, in which Mason understudied and starred. The parody was written by the multi-talented director of her cabaret show, Barry Kleinbort.

A moving finale is Mason’s performance of “It’s About Time,” written by her record producer and husband, Paul Rolnick, with Shelly Markham, for a wedding of friends following passage of Marriage Equality legislation in New York State. The song is also the centerpiece (and title) of her newest CD.  

Karen has two more shows: May 28 & 29, both at 7 pm.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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