Before you read this review, purchase your ticket (enter code ADAM10 to receive a special discount just for being a "Call Me Adam" fan), and then read about the brilliance you will see when you attend Karen Mason's Unfinished Business, a developmental production presented by CAP21 Theatre Company.
Last year, I attended a developmental reading of Unfinished Business (click here for that review), so I was thrilled to be asked to revisit the show in this next developmental stage. While containing its heart and humor, Unfinished Business is now stronger, tighter, and flows better than it did the first time around. I loved this show the first time around, but tonight, I was even more engulfed! With one of the most powerful voices out there, Karen Mason once again brought Brian Lasser and his music to life. Her stage presence matched her vocal power. She knew exactly when to let the notes out and when to hold back.
In Unfinished Business, Karen Mason pays tribute to Brian Lasser, her long-time friend and collaborator. Karen took the audience back to when she met Brian and continued on through his death from AIDS and her move forward. This very touching story intermixed with humorous moments, touched my heart in so many ways. It made me think of my very close friends and family whom I cherish so much. While I'm fortunate to have most of them still with me, Unfinished Business did force me to think of what I will remember most about them when they're gone. It was a tough place to go to, but Karen's talent along with Brian's music (and a few other composers) made it easier to explore.
Looping their story together were a mixture of Brian's songs with a few other songs from such composers/lyricists as Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Bob Merrill, Barry Kleinbort, and Paul Rolnick. My favorite Brian Lasser songs were "I Made A New Friend," "Hello, Tom," "Tear Up The Town," "He Waits For Me," "Carry Me Away" (with additional lyrics by Barry Kleinbort), and "The Lucky Ones." I also enjoyed Brian's collaboration with Geoff Leon & Edward Dunne on "I Eat" and with Gary Gardener on "Becoming My Mother." Karen's husband, Paul Rolnick, wrote my favorite song of the night, "We Never Ran Out of Love (We Just Ran Out of Time)."
Karen delivered these songs with such enchantment; I was glued to her performance and very wrapped up in this story. Brian's catalog of songs were a true reflections of what was happening in his life. He wrote many upbeat and positive songs when life was good, but when life got tough, Brian had a sadder song to match. Check out the video below to see Karen sing one of Brian's more upbeat songs "Tear Up The Town"
Since this show is still in the developmental stage I would like to suggest cutting just a scene or two about Karen and Brian's rise up. I loved learning about their growth, but if 10 minutes of the show were cut out, I think it would be that much stronger. I would also like to see the show end with "We Never Ran Out of Love (We Just Ran Out of Time). I think that song really captures the love Karen and Brian held for each other.
Unfinished Business is one of the most touching stories of friendship, love, and loss I have seen in a while. It shows how one person can change the course of our whole life and what happens when that person is no longer with us. It teaches us the importance of time, finding the strength to move forward, and how one person, while no longer here physically, will always live within us spiritually.
If you are looking for a show that will "Tear Up The Town" and is at the start of something great, then I highly suggest checking out Karen Mason's Unfinished Business at CAP21. The remaining performances are February 5, 6, 11, 12, 13. Showtime is 8pm. CAP21 is located in New York City at 18 West 18th Street (between 5th & 6th Avenue). Click here for tickets and enter code "ADAM10" for a special $10 ticket just for "Call Me Adam" fans!