If it wasn't for my friends Robert Chionis and Daniel Wolfsbauer, I would not have experienced one of the most spectacular nights of theatre in my life!
Since seeing Karen Mason's "Unfinished Business" on July 19, 2012, I have been speechless and in awe of how much talent Karen Mason has! Karen just presented 3 concerts of her new show "Unfinished Business," a tribute to her good friend and colleague, Brian Lasser, as part of CAP 21's "Concerts for CAP 21" in NYC from July 17-19 as a benefit for their Theatre Company Fund (for creating new work) and Conservatory Scholarship Fund. Brian Lasser was a composer/lyricist who won an Emmy Award for his song "Hold Me." He was also Karen's longtime Music Director before his death in 1992. Now, 20 years later, Karen explores their time together through the songbook of Brian's music.
"Unfinished Business" was a golden piece of theatre! I hope Karen continues to perform this show. "Unfinished Business" was more than the story of Karen and Brian's friendship and working relationship. It was a story of love, heartache, survival, acceptance, hard work, and brilliant music! I felt everyone would be able identify with something in this show even if it was their first introduction to Karen or Brian!
From the moment Karen opened the show with "Something's Coming" (with arrangements by Brian Lasser), I knew I was in for quite a special evening! When Karen started telling this very personal story, I knew this evening was going to be divine! I believe Karen has some of the strongest vocals I have ever heard. Karen is in total control of her voice. She knew when she needed to give more and when less was more effective. The songs selected from Brian's repertoire for "Unfinished Business" added much depth into the life of Brian Lasser and his relationship with Karen. I enjoyed every song Karen sang! A few of my favorites were "Nice Joint," "I Made A New Friend," "Hello, Tom," "Tear Up The Town," "Becoming My Mother," "How Long Has It Been," and "Better Days." One song that was not Brian's I really enjoyed was "We Never Ran Out of Love (We Just Ran Out of Time), which was a song written for Karen by her husband Paul Rolnick. As Karen said in the show, it perfectly summed up her mortal journey with Brian.
While it's been 20 years since Brian's death, it was evident the extremely strong friendship Karen and Brian had (and still have, even though he's gone). Karen told these stories as if we were all sitting around in her living room. That's how intimate this show made me feel. It's great that Karen has found a way to keep Brian's legacy alive as well as the impact he had on her life! I really hope this show continues to get developed and has a much bigger life because I feel everyone can identify with this show on some level. It made me think of everyone close to me in my life, both living and dead, and how grateful I am to have/had them.
I was thrilled that CAP 21 presented this concert because they are helping nurture the performers of tomorrow! Brian Lasser and Karen Mason are perfect examples of what love, friendship, perserverance, and music can do for someone. It's great that the students at CAP 21 were able to learn about two of theatre's most talented performers and how they were able to reach the top!
To hear Karen talk about "Unfinished Business" and to see some clips from the show check out these two videos below. If you are looking to support the arts, click here make a donation to CAP 21!
CAP 21's interview with Karen Mason
Clips of Karen Mason's "Unfinished Business" and interviews with Karen and Frank and Eliza Ventura (founders of CAP 21) as filmed by BroadwayWorld's Richard Ridge