BWW Interviews: CAPEMAN's Luba Mason
Broadway actress and jazz vocalist Luba Mason will be taking on the role of Mrs. Young from the 1998 Broadway production of The Capeman. This concert version, directed by Tony Award nominee Diane Paulus, will play the Delacorte Theater for three shows only. Mason has appeared on Broadway as Velma Kelly in Chicago (with Brooke Shields), Hedy LaRue in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (opposite Matthew Broderick), and Lucy in Jekyll & Hyde.
BroadwayWorld reporter Nick Orlando spoke with Mason about her Broadway career and albums, "Krazy Love" and "Collage."
Luba, you have recently moved back to New York from Los Angeles. How has the transition been?
It has been great. I am from New York and have been here my whole life, except these last few years in LA. I am from Astoria and went to New York University. I have been dying to come back, but my husband was in political office and we had to wait for his term to end. We finally got back last October and it's great to be back in a show. Los Angeles is a beautiful quality of living, but you can't beat the energy in New York.
Let's go back a few years to your days in How to Succeed in Business... The musical is coming back to Broadway next year. What are your thoughts on the revival?
It's funny you bring that up. I was just talking to a few friends and they said you can still play the part, Hedy La Rue, she would just be a little older! I think it is great that they are bringing it back. It's a great show. It has been about 15 years. I think that is the right amount of time.
What was it like when you were part of the show with Matthew Broderick?
It was kind of magical. We had such a great cast. I learned a lot from him; we had great chemistry. Megan Mullally and Victoria Clark were also in the show and Des McAnuff directed. The show is very moving.
Would you consider coming back to the musical?
Wow! I have no plans. I don't know, I haven't really thought about it. It would be interesting, though.
"Krazy Love" is a follow-up to your debut album, "Collage." How did this album come about?
It's a Brazilian jazz album. I was turned onto this music by my husband 10 years ago. I love this music. Being in LA, I had time to work on the album. I met with Renato Neto and we collaborated. Renato is the keyboardist for Prince. We got along well. He had asked me if I write music and, I remembered a long time ago, I wrote a song and it was not completely finished. Renato said bring it in and the next week I did. He loved it and we finished writing that song. On this album, eight out of the ten songs are original music. I wanted to challenge myself on the second album. It received great reviews.
One of the tracks on this album is titled "This House," which talks about your childhood memories. What do you remember most?
I'm first generation American; my parents are from Eastern Europe. I grew up in a very ethnic household, which was different from my friends. Music was strong, very prominent in our house. My parents loved to sing, but never followed through with it because they are immigrants. They wanted a simple, American dream life.
Why the "K" in "Krazy"?
It's something different. My cat is on the cover and his name is Kooki. I went by the name of Kim Freshwater for a little while. There were a lot of "K's" surrounding me.
Can you talk to us about your training in classical voice, piano and dance? Was this something you had always wanted to do?
I played classical piano for 12 years. I sang in church choirs. In high school, I was involved in the choir and musical theatre. I was in a little Miss America pageant in New Jersey when I was eight years old. I saw my first Broadway show in the fifth grade. I knew this is what I wanted to do. I began taking voice lessons when I was in the eighth grade.
I took ballet when I was younger, but it was in my last year at NYU that I had eight credits left before I could graduate. The American Dance Machine came on board and was an accredited program. I took eight credits of dance in my senior year; the classes were Monday through Friday for about five or six hours per day.
Which was the first Broadway show you had seen?
Didn't you also work with Ann in Chicago?
Yes, she coached me when I did Chicago. She was one of the choreographers. I was in Chicago for six months - Brooke Shields played Roxy Hart for a short-time.
You will be taking on the role of Mrs. Young in The Capeman; you had played Mrs. Krzesinski in the original Broadway production and some of the original cast is returning as well.
Yes, three or four of the original cast members are returning. I am really excited.
I first heard about it in one of the papers last fall or early winter. I let Paul Simon know I was interested. I always wanted to perform at the Delacorte Theater. The show has sentimental value - I met my husband in this show on Broadway.
Your husband is Latin superstar Ruben Blades, who was part of the cast of the Broadway production of The Capeman. How did you become a couple?
I didn't know who he was other than an actor. I didn't know the musician he was. I came in at the tale end as a last minute replacement. The show was a great experience - the Latin music, culture, food. Hooking up with Ruben was interesting and exciting. I learned a lot from him and continue to learn a lot. Music was the big thing we had in common. I learned his musical background. He turned me onto Latin music. Coming from an ethnic background, I can relate to his ethnicity as well. We have a solid relationship.
Was this musical your first experience with Latin music?
Absolutely. It opened up a whole new world for me. Even my debut album, "Collage," was Latin music. I fell in love with Latin rhythms.
Are there any talks of the production coming back to Broadway?
It seems that way. I'm getting that feeling. On Broadway, it got horrible reviews. We did a concert version at BAM (Brooklyn Academy Of Music) and it received great reviews. The orchestra was right up there on stage with us. It seems that this next version will be similar to the BAM production. However, the producers might take it a step further.
What else are you working on?
I have been working on a one-woman show for the last year. I want to incorporate a strong musical influence, comedy, my background and immigrant story. I'm also working on another album, which will include American standards with a Brazilian jazz style. The music has become very addictive for me. The albums give me a chance to focus on writing, composing and the ability to look at other styles of music.
Would you consider touring the show?
I would love to do it in New York at a small theatre off-Broadway.
What are your three favorite things about New York?
The abundance of the culture, museums, theatre, Broadway, films, and architecture; the second would be the energy - it is addictive, it feeds me; and finally, my family is here, this is where I grew up.
The concert version of Paul Simon's The Capeman is being staged at the Delacorte Theater for three performances only, August 14th - 16th. For more information, visit www.ShakespeareInThePark.org or www.LubaMason.com.
Photo Credit: Gustavo Araujo