Karen Mason: Mason Making Music

| July 13, 2017

Karen Mason

Mason Making Music

The RRazz Room, New Hope, PA, June 10, 2017

Reviewed by Richard Edgcomb for Cabaret Scenes

Photo: Maryann Lopinto

Karen Mason knows that one of the keys to a successful show is leaving your audience craving more. I first saw Mason perform at the now-shuttered Chez Odette’s in New Hope, Pennsylvania some 20 years ago. Since that time, I have borne witness to her becoming one of the most vibrant and sought -after singers in the clubs and on stage today. She continues to grow as a performer, artist, and vocalist. Her interpretations of the classics and lesser-known songs are unsurpassed. She knows where to place every pause and accentuate a word or a syllable, and is a master on how to caress a lyric. Karen Mason is the real deal.

She recently returned to the RRazz Room at the Clarion Hotel in New Hope with her show, Mason Making Music, which showcases many of the selections on her current CD, It’s About Time. It’s a brilliant mix of standards, pop, and theater songs. She takes us on a full-circle journey, starting with her performance as  Carrie Pipperidge in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel—her first high school musical in her native Arlington Heights, Illinois—when she delivers a soft and tender, but moving version of “Mr. Snow.” She follows up with “Just in Time”  (Jule Styne/ Comden & Green), complete with the seldom heard verse, which is bold and brassy in Karen’s hands.

It is often said that Karen Mason shines best when singing theater songs, and her show included many from shows in which she has performed, including the silly “Play Me a Country Song” (John R. Briggs/Harry Manfredini), the title song from her first Broadway show (which closed on opening night), and “Rebecca” (Sylvester Levay/Michael Kunze) from the show of the same name that never made it to Broadway. (Most of us know the scandal surrounding this show.) In between, she gave us a thundering “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (Jule Styne/Bob Merrill), along with a hysterical story about her audition as a singing waiter using this song. Other showstoppers included ”Somewhere” (Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim), “The Impossible Dream” (Mitch Leigh/Joe Darion) and “Sunset Boulevard” (Andrew Lloyd Webber/Christopher Black, with parody lyrics by her director, Barry Kleinbort). “Finding Wonderland” (Frank Wildhorn/Jack Murphy) from Broadway’s Wonderland, a show in which Mason played the Queen of Hearts, was soft and soulful, and a her version of “Over the Rainbow” (Harold Arlen/ E.Y. “Yip” Harburg) from The Wizard of Oz was wistful and touching. Much credit should also go to her Musical Director, Christopher Denny, whose accompaniment and arrangements help make Mason shine. “It’s About Time,” the title track from her new CD, is an ode to marriage equality written by her husband, Paul Rolnick, and Shelly Markham, and was a moving and triumphant way to end the show.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, PA/NJ/DE, PA/NJ/DE Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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