Karen Mason is an award winning performer who has it all...a voice that tears the roof off, acting skills that rival the best, and a career many only dream of having. From theatre to television to solo recordings, Karen Mason is a performer to know! She is a ten-time Mac Award Winner, winning Major Female Vocalist of the Year for six consecutive years, a three-time Backstage Bistro Award Winner, a 2006 Nightlife Award Winner for Major Female Vocalist, and an Outer Critics Circle Award Winner for her performance in "And The World Goes Round" on Broadway.
Karen's other Broadway credits include "Hairspray," "Mamma Mia" (where she originated the role of "Tanya"), "Sunset Boulevard," "Jerome Robbins' Broadway," "Torch Song Trilogy," and "Play Me A Country Song." Off-Broadway, Karen has dazzled audiences in "Karen Mason Sings Broadway, Beatles, and Brian" and "Carnival" (where she received a 1993 Drama Desk Nomination). She has entertained audiences around the country in such regional productions as "White Christmas" (St. Louis Muni Opera), "Side By Side by Sondheim" (Coconut Grove Playhouse), "Gypsy" (Sundance Theatre), the world premiere musical "One Tough Cookie," which she co-produced (Chicago's Apple Tree Theatre), "Heartbeats" (Goodspeed Opera House), "Company" (Boston's Huntington Theatre), and the one-woman musical about Dorothy Parker, "You Might as Well Live" (in New York and Chicago). On TV, Karen has been seen in "Ed," "Law & Order," and "Law & Order: SVU."
As an internationally acclaimed vocalist, Karen has toured the world with concerts in Great Britain, Scotland, Sweden, Japan, Spain, and Brazil. In New York, Karen has headlined Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Feinstein's at the Regency, Rainbow & Stars, The Algonquin, Arci's Place, The Supper Club, The Metropolitan Room, and The Ballroom. California audiences got to see Karen at Los Angeles' The Cinegrill and the UCLA/ASCAP Concert Series and San Francisco's The Plush Room. In Chicago, Karen performed at Park West, Davenport's, and The Metropolis. She has shared concert stages with such music luminaries as Luciano Pavarotti, Rosemary Clooney, Liza Minnelli, Michael Feinstein, Jerry Herman, John Kander & Frank Ebb, as well as The New York Pops with Skitch Henderson, The Philly Pops with Peter Nero, The Oklahoma Philharominc with Joel Levine, the premier performance of The Chicagoland Pops, The Indianapolis Philharominc, and the St. Louis Symphony with John McDaniel.
A successful recording artist, Karen catalog includes her 2009 Mac Award Winning CD "Right Here/Right Now," "The Sweetest of Nights," the Mac Award Winning "When The Sun Comes Out," "Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!," "Not So Simply Broadway," and "Better Days" (featuring songs by her longtime composer/arranger Brian Lasser, which includes the 1998 Emmy Award Winning song "Hold Me"). Karen is also featured on the "Jeffrey" soundtrack, the studio cast recordings of Frank Wildhorn's "Wonderland: Alice's New Adventures" and "Wonderful Town" as well as the original cast albums of "And The World Goes Round," "The Child In Me Vol. 1," and "Lost In Boston II."
Currently, Karen and her show-stopping numbers can be seen on Broadway in Frank Wildhorn's "Wonderland," playing "The Queen of Hearts" (click here for my review) "Wonderland" plays at the Marquis Theatre in NYC (1535 Broadway, between 45th and 46th Street). For tickets, click here! For more on Karen be sure to visit http://www.karenmason.com!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Well, first of all, there was never a question for me if I would be a performer. I just HAD to be singing! There were a few inspirations at the beginning of my career; and thankfully, there continue to be inspirations along the way! We all need inspiration throughout our lives! My first inpiration was my Mom, who is a musician. She was being trained to be a concert pianist, so her love of music was shared with us from an early age. We always had music around the house!
Second: When I was a little older, I was doing alot of Community Theatre, and one of my fellow actors said to me that I should really pursue performing professionally NOW! She warned me about letting those dreams pass by without trying....and end up being 50 with regrets. It was very very wise advice..and I did listen!
Third: And then there was Brian Lasser, my sweet mentor and musical partner for 16 years, who believed in me as a performer. With his friendship, I was able to define the performer I wanted to be.
Fourth: I loved listening to Barbra Streisand and John Gary! My two musical inspirations! As a young performer, I learned to "borrow" from both of them!
2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? My lowest note is D below middle C. My highest is High C. Now, that doesnt mean you would want to hear these notes! It just means I can vocalize to them!! Right now, In WONDERLAND, I am singing "F below Middle C" to "F below High C." And having a wonderful time doing it!!!
3. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? ONE person????? There are so many! In fact, that is the best part of a career: that you get to share the stage with great people! This is a great and vast business, with alot of amazingly talented people! I just want to keep working...and meeting them!
4. What attracted you to "Wonderland"? What first attracted me was Frank Wildhorn! I knew Frank, but had never worked with him. And I knew I wanted to! So when the audition came up, I worked hard and gave it my best! Thankfully, it worked! and I got the role of The Queen of Hearts!! What is your favorite part of the show? My favorite part of the show? Well, of course, any time the Queen is around!!! I do love the song OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! Frank and Jack rewrote the song for me, so I am in heaven when I get to sing it every night! The part of the show that makes me really proud of our show is FINDING WONDERLAND! I just love this song! The entire company singing with Janet Dacal (what a voice!) makes me so very happy every performance! And very proud of the journey we have all traveled together as a company!
5. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? I love the discovery part of rehearsal! It is also the most frustrating and challenging!!! BUT when it starts to click, and that door to discovery is open.....Well, it is so much fun! The "absolute frustration" part of the process is always a surprise to me, even after all these years! I seem to forget from project to project that it is going to be painful! And that I will of course fall apart, and doubt my abilities!! Then, when you get a way into the character.....WOW, it is discovering gold!!
6. Favorite place to practice/rehearse on your own? It is my car! The quiet and isolation of the car allows me to repeat endlessly (and I do mean endlessly!!!), and make mistakes, and swear about making mistakes, and then get it right! It is important that I have the freedom to make those mistakes and, if I am working a note or passage into my voice, that I am unafraid to sound ugly, until I can make it work! It is all part of the process!
7. Favorite way to spend your day off? I always have great plans for my day off! And we do have only ONE day off a week! AND I am not complaining because I am always happy to have a job on Broadway! REALLY HAPPY!! Ok, back to the question! I try to be home a little more, maybe do a few errands, and maybe go see a friend!
Last night, I went to see my friend Julie Gold (who wrote FROM A DISTANCE) do her CD release show! Talk about inspiration!!! She is such an amazing writer/performer, and one of the most "alive" performers I have ever known! Her joy and appreciation of what she is doing, are just such a part of her.....you cant help but love her! She inspires me by just being the amazing woman she is! PS her new CD is LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE!
8. Favorite skin care product? I have never been asked this before! And honestly, I am a bit of a slacker when it comes to skin care!! The truth: I use Gold Bond Ultimate with Shea Butter on my hands, etc. On my face: I use the same thing! It seems to be ok so far! If someone has other great choices, just send to the theatre! Always happy to try something new!
10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman! I am a feminist from 'way back!
11. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice I got was before a concert I was doing at The Park West in Chicago, very early in my career! I was having some trouble focusing my energies....and believing that I was good enough to do the concert! My manager at the time told me that I should MAKE THE DECISION FOR EVERYONE IN THE ROOM THAT WE WERE GOING TO HAVE A GOOD TIME! Don't leave it up to anyone else in the room whether they are going to have a good time. Believe in the moment! And believe in yourself! You make it a party from the very get-go! (of course, this party will also include some great ballads!! those can be fun, too). I try to remember that before every show. If I believe in what I am doing, then it can't help but show! And luckily, I do love what I do!
12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Ooooh, I am a married woman! But, I do have to admit, I have had a thing for Paul Newman my whole life! Those eyes....Whoah!!!