Karen Mason: Davenport’s Twentieth Anniversary Celebration

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Karen Mason

Davenport’s Twentieth Anniversary Celebration

Davenport’s, Chicago, IL, November 11, 2018

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

Karen Mason
Photo: Michael Lee Stever

In addition to champagne and cake from a favorite Chicago bakery, little else could be more appropriate for celebrating Davenport’s Cabaret’s 20th anniversary than entertainment by Karen Mason. Back in the day, Mason was the first entertainer to appear or, in her own words, to “christen,” Davenport’s. Rumor is that Mason was an advisor for the layout of one of the best cabaret spaces in the U.S.

Highlights included the hilarious “Murder, He Says,” (Frank Loesser/Jimmy McHugh) and “As If We Never Said Goodbye” from Sunset Boulevard. Mason saluted her first musical collaborator, Brian Lasser, with his song, “I Made a New Friend” with simplicity and hope. The much-missed Lasser still holds a special place in hearts of Chicago music fans. Mason brought a new take on “How Long Has This Been Going On?
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,” forgoing the usual swing and plumbing the heart of the lyrics. Closing with the multi-layered “It’s About Time,” written by Paul Rolnick and Shelly Markham made for a thoughtful, loving encore.
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Beckie Menzie provided excellent accompaniment and the joyful rapport between pianist and singer was palpable.

Another embracing touch in the series of anniversary shows was featuring Davenport’s singing employees as opening acts for Mason. Dan Michel’s opening set was both polished and engaging.

Carla Gordon

Carla Gordon is a singer/songwriter, director, and producer. The Chicago Tribune cited her among “Chicago’s most accomplished cabaret performers….a major player in Chicago cabaret.” Reviewer Pam Peterson called her “Honey-voiced wisecracker!” Ageless Magazine called her performance as Sophie tucker, “A gem!” Gordon writes custom material for singers nationwide. Her flagship show, "Blacklisted," featuring songs made famous by artists blacklisted under McCarthyism, has toured to critical acclaim. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Cabaret Professionals and on the Advisory Board of the Skokie Theater. Her songs air on WFMT’s Midnight Special and are being performed performed by cabaret artists nationwide. carlacabaret@aol.com