Luba Mason: Creating the Collage

Luba Mason has appeared in some of the biggest shows on Broadway, starring in such hits as How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Jeckyll and Hyde, and Chicago, playing bombshells and killers with equal aplomb. But when she takes the stage at the Metropolitan Room this week in her new show, she is playing only herself, and sharing all of the many different qualities that make her who she is. Reflecting this, she has entitled her cabaret Collage.

Collage began in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband, recording artist Rubén Blades, and toured across the country before coming to New York over Thanksgiving weekend of last year. The return engagement at the Met Room will feature songs from her debut album, also entitled Collage, and from her forthcoming second recording, which will mark Mason's debut as a songwriter. "I chose songs that had had some influence in my life, that meant something to me, and incorporated a lot of different material," she says. To honor her Slovak heritage, she sings a Slovak folk tune. "The Riddle Song," the first piano piece Mason ever played during her twelve years of classical lessons, is also featured. A Spanish cover of "The Look of Love" honors her Panamanian husband. And, being a Broadway Baby, she has included a few numbers from her greatest stage hits. "Each song has a little story behind it on why I chose it," she says. "And I get into that a little bit more in-depth in the show, where people really get a chance to get to know me and my background and why I chose the songs that I did... It's become quite a wonderful, eclectic set, which I find is very entertaining for the audience. They don't know what's coming next."

"The show will try to explain my process, how I evolved through my music," she continues excitedly, "and how I got from one song to the next, and how it led to the new material for the new album. It's a real process as a performer and a singer, especially when you're in this business and you do so many different things. Not only was I a Broadway performer -- over fifteen years I've done eight Broadway shows -- but I was a classical pianist, and now recording and writing, and my background being an ethnic background... All of these things influenced me as an artist."

Mason credits her experience in musical theatre with her current success in cabaret and recording. "What being a Broadway performer has given me is the confidence to be so up close to people in a cabaret venue," she says. "Being a Broadway performer sets you up for all aspects-- any aspect-- of show business, whether it's in film, TV, or cabaret. There's no training like it. Just being on stage live and being in the moment when anything can happen is invaluable for a performer. And the discipline to be able to perform and sustain eight shows a week, six days a week, when you're running in a hit show for a year or two years-- you don't get that anywhere else."

Cabaret, on the other hand, is a "wonderfully intimate" experience, and one that changes from city to city and room to room. "Touring your own show, everything is on your shoulders and it's all your responsibility," Mason says, and chuckles. "Your butt is on the line! It's a tremendous amount of responsibility, and with that also comes tremendous gratification, because it is all you up there, and you have to hold an audience's attention for an hour, hour and a half. If you flop, it's your fault, and if it's a success, you take all the credit... The rewards are wonderfully overwhelming at times, because I get to take all the credit, along with the wonderful musicians I work with."

But despite her recent success as a cabaret star and recording artist, Luba Mason would be only too happy to return to Broadway again. "I'm always open-arms to Broadway," she says. "That's where I started... Every couple years, I start getting the itch, like, 'I'd like to do a show again.' There's just something wonderful about it, when you're collaborating with a cast. It becomes a family. You perform, work, and rehearse with these people. It's really a whole other, wonderful, rewarding process and environment to be in. Being in show business is kinda great," she says with a contented sigh, then laughs. "It beats working in a bank, I'll tell you that!"


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