Karen Mason Returns to Don’t Tell Mama for "Master Class" On the Ups and Downs of Cabaret
By: Ellis Nassour
Award-winning actress/singer Karen Mason returns to Don’t Tell Mama Sundays and Monday, June 21 and 22 and 28 and 29 at 7 P.M. to encore her acclaimed autobiographical Mason at Mama’s in March, a reminiscence-filled romp through the songs and stories of her pre-theater career coming up the ranks of cabaret. The show was dubbed by one critic as "a master class on how an act should work." She’s in good hands in that department, with director Barry Kleinbort and musical director Christopher Denny.
The show celebrates the era of cabaret she and cohort Nancy LaMott helped usher in late 1982 when they were hand-picked by DTM’s original owners Bob Hoskins and Erv Raible to open the club with twin shows. Posters of the shows hang on Mama’s Legacy Wall.
Mason, a 10-time MAC Award-winning performer [including six consecutive Major Female Vocalist wins] and three-time Bistro Award winner, is a consummate artist on any stage. She has a voice that any performer would envy. A critic wrote: "She delivers with such emotional fortitude you feel like you’re in a revival meeting."
She has long been celebrated as a singer’s singer and cabaret icon. Throughout her career, Mason has mixed classic cabaret with theater classics. Her most recent single, "It’s About Time," which honors marriage equality, was written by her husband Paul Rolnick and Shelley Markham.
Mason is as comfortable belting Abba tunes to the last row as she is with intimate classics by Kander and Ebb and Lloyd Webber and Amy Powers/Don Black.
She made her Broadway debut in Play Me a Country Song (1982). She appeared in Torch Song Trilogy (1982) later in its run; and Jerome Robbins Broadway (1989). In 1991, she co-starred to great acclaim Off Broadway in the Kander and Ebb revue And the World Goes ‘Round.
Two years later, she became standby to Glenn Close in the American premiere of Sunset Boulevard in L.A., going on to play 300 performances over two years there and on Broadway. Her renditions of "With One Look" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye" brought audiences to their feet.
Mason originated the role of Tanya in Mamma Mia! (2001). She received a Drama Desk nomination and played the role for a year. In 2008, she joined Hairspray as Velma Von Tussle. In 2011, she co-starred as the flamboyant Queen of Hearts in Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy’s elaborate, but short-lived Wonderland. That year, she toured in A Christmas Story. Most recently, she was cast as Mrs. Danvers in the musical adaptation of Rebecca, which she still hopes to play. She has six solo CDs and is on the Wonderland cast album .
Tickets for the encore performances of Mason at Mama’s in March are $20 cover plus a two-drink minimum (cash only). To reserve, call (212) 757-0788 (after 4 P.M.) or book online at www.donttellmamanyc.com.