A sophisticated holiday program performed by a cabaret and Broadway great.
By Joel Benjamin
Karen Mason and Christmas—what a concept! In her Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!, the great singer wrapped her terrific vocal chords around holiday musical fare, beginning with a naughty sounding “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (John Frederick Coots/Haven Gillespie) at Don’t Tell Mama.
“What the World Needs Now” (Bacharach/David) segued into two Jerry Herman anthems, “We Need a Little Christmas” and “It’s Today,” all three making for an uplift that was soon taken down a notch or two with the segment of the show she called “the shiksa driven tradition” of Holiday depression.
“The Christmas Waltz” (Styne/Cahn) combined with “The Christmas Song” (aka “Chestnuts Roasting…”) (Tormé/Wells) weren’t exactly downers but they certainly weren’t upbeat. The darker mood returned later with a sad “A House Is Not a Home” (Bacharach/David) evoking loneliness and despair followed by Joni Mitchell’s wistful “I Wish I Had a River” and the classic “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (Walter Kent/Kim Gannon). Clearly Ms. Mason understands that the holiday season isn’t always jolly.
Uplift returned with “A Winter Wonderland” (Felix Bernard/Richard B. Smith), its upbeat effect heightened by bright chaser lights making a large halo around the stage.
She was strictly traditional in “We Three Kings” (John Henry Hopkins, Jr.), “Silent Night” (Gruber/Mohr) and “Joy to the World” (Handel/Watts).
Her closing number, the plaintive “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Martin/Blaine), the Judy Garland classic, clearly resonated deeply in her. It was a song she sang with her sister as they watched Meet Me In St. Louis together.
From belting to crooning, Ms. Mason used the full range of her voice to convey the meaning of the holiday season. She was supported brilliantly by her witty music director/accompanist, Christopher Denny.
Photo: Maryann Lopinto
Karen Mason: Christmas! Christmas! Christmas! (December 6, 13, 14, 10 & 21, 2015)
Don’t Tell Mama
343 West 46th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues
New York, NY
For reservations call 212-757-0788 or visit www.donttellmamanyc.com
For more information visit www.karenmason.com