Karen Mason: Mason at Mama's in May - Will's New York Nite Life
Karen Mason, "Mason at Mama's in May"
Don’t Tell Mama
343 W 46th St
Monday (May 29)
On stage at Don’t Tell Mama, Karen Mason spends a lot of time paying homage to Broadway. This seems especially generous on her part, especially when, viewed from an objective distance, the musical theater has not totally done right by her. She’s never been cast as the original lead in a classic show, but has always been hired as a replacement or an understudy for a name about the title headliner (like Glenn Close in “Sunset Boulevard”). With this solo offering, however, she shows that she can put together a one-woman show to compete with any superstar diva. In the Mama’s set - which one hopes will be extended beyond Mondays in May - she brings considerable freshness to the overdone likes of “Over the Rainbow” and “Somewhere,” but the real standout moments are more contemporary works like “Finding Wonderland” and “It’s a Whole New World,” that no one has ever sung so intimately and movingly - the latter, in particular, made me want to cast my vote in favor of Ms. Mason doing an all Alan Menken show - there’s more depth in these songs than other singers have been able to find. Even though the subject matter of her climactic number, and the title of her excellent new CD, “It’s About Time” (no spoiler alert here, although it is by her husband, Paul Rolnick) led me to fear an overblown anthem, the song is an impassioned and effective closer. Based on her rapport with the crowd at Mama’s, Ms. Mason would appeal to have all the talent of a brand name, Tony-winning diva but none of the ego.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL & VANITY FAIR, and reviews current shows for THE OBSERVER and THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of eight books including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)