Written by Susan Hasho
Karen Mason is magic—pure magic.
I saw her first show at 54 Below on December 10th. Looking slinky in a sexy black dress with killer, sparkly 5-inch heels, she opened with the song Santa’s Coming to Town; and exhibited about four different personalities in an antic, schizophrenic response to Christmas. Ms. Mason was so present in every moment, so unpredictable, that I felt as though anything could happen. And actually, a lot did happen.
She then did a brilliant medley of What the World Needs Now and We Need a Little Christmas (Mame). She moved through a rhythmic Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland and landed on Not This Christmas (Kleinbort/Lasser) which is a completely insane song about what not to give her for Christmas.
She shared the song (actually her audition song) Rebecca Come Back to Mandalay from the now infamous, never-made-it-to-Broadway-this-year, musical Rebecca. She was very funny on the subject and a good number of her fellow cast members were in the audience Tuesday. But, I’m sure the experience was not so funny for them.
The medley of Joy to the World and Joni Mitchell’s River, with added vocals provided by her musical director Christopher Denny, was stunning. The zany song I Eat (Lasser/Dunne & Leon) was followed by more traditional songs I’ll be Home for Christmas, Silent Night and We Three Kings of Orient Are.
Her well-chosen song list aside, Ms. Mason is that rare artist who combines talent, skillful musicality, deep emotional availability and a great measure of trust in her improvisational, inspired self. Wow! This is a great Christmas show. There’s one more show on December 17th in the beautiful room that is 54 Below. Go!
Rob Renino on bass; musical direction/accompaniment by Christopher Denny.