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Karen Mason Joins Cast of 'Hairspray' 4/8

The producers of Hairspray have announced that Karen Mason will join the Broadway company on Tuesday, April 8 in the role of Velma Von Tussle at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 52 Street.   (Mary Birdsong plays Velma through Sunday, April 6.)

Ms. Mason is also set to premiere her new cabaret show, Right Here Right Now (in conjunction with the release of her new CD of the same title) at the Metropolitan Room, beginning Wednesday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m.  Other performances are Thursday, April 3 at 7:30pm; Friday, April 4 at 7:30pm; Thursday, April 10 at l1pm; Friday, April 11 at l1pm; Saturday, April 12 at l1pm; and Sunday, April 13 at 9:30pm.  For reservations, phone 212 206 0440; cover charge is $30.

Ms. Mason originated the role of Tanya in the hit Broadway musical Mamma Mia! (2002 Drama Desk nomination) and graced the stage as Norma Desmond in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard on Broadway and in Los Angeles for three years.  Her other Broadway credits include Mazeppa/"Monotony" Singer in Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Rosalie in Carnival (Drama Desk nomination), and featured roles in Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy and Play Me a Country Song.  She won the Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance in the Kander and Ebb revue And the World Goes Round and starred Off-Broadway in her own show, Karen Mason Sings Broadway, Beatles and Brian.

In regional theatre, Karen starred in the world premiere of White Christmas at St. Louis Muny Opera; Side by Side by Sondheim at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Florida; Gypsy at the St. Louis Muny and Sundance Theatre in California; the world premiere musical One Tough Cookie, which she co-produced at Chicago's Apple Tree Theatre; Heartbeats by Amanda McBroom at the Goodspeed Opera House in New York; and Stephen Sondheim's Company at Boston's Huntington Theatre.  She also starred in You Might As Well Live, a one-woman musical about Dorothy Parker.  Her memorable portrayal of Rose in Broadway Westchester Theatre's 2007 production of Gypsy garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences.

A celebrated vocalist, Karen has headlined nearly every major nightclub and concert hall in New York, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Russian Tea Room, Feinstein's at The Regency, Rainbow & Stars, the Algonquin, Arci's, Eighty Eight, The Supper Club, and The Ballroom, as well as the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), The Cinegrill and the UCLA/ASCAP Concert Series in Los Angeles, The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., The Plush Room in San Francisco, and Davenport's in Chicago.

She has shared concert stages with Luciano Pavarotti, Rosemary Clooney, Liza Minnelli, Michael Feinstein, Jerry Herman, and John Kander and Fred Ebb, among others.  She has given concerts in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Brazil, Scotland, Tokyo, and Osaka.  Her starring symphonic performances include The New York Pops with Skitch Henderson, Peter Nero and The Philly Pops, The Oklahoma Philharmonic with Joel Levine, the premiere performance of The Chicagoland Pops Orchestra, The Indianapolis Philharmonic, and The St. Louis Symphony conducted by John McDaniel.

Karen's cabaret shows have earned her numerous awards and established her as one of the industry's most sought-after cabaret singers.  She is a nine-time MAC Award winner and the recent recipient of the MAC Board of Directors Award for Oustanding Achievement.  She was honored with the MAC Award for Major Female Vocalist of the Year for five consecutive years, won a 2006 Nightlife Award for Major Female Vocalist, and has earned three Bistro Awards.

Karen's recordings include Sweetest of Nights (2005), featuring the Backstage Bistro Outstanding Song "Cold Enough To Cross" by Paul Rolnick.  Her 2002 release, When The Sun Comes Out, won the MAC Award for Major Recording of the Year and features the Emmy-nominated song "Shoot for the Moon" by Paul Rolnick.  Her other CDs, released on Zevely Records, include Better Days, featuring Brian Lasser's Emmy-winning song "Hold Me," Not So Simply Broadway, and her live recording Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!

In Hairspray it's 1962—the '50s are out and change is in the air. Baltimore's Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion—to dance.  She wins a spot on the local TV dance program, "The Corny Collins Show" and, overnight, is transformed from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity.  But can a plus-size trendsetter in dance and fashion vanquish the program's reigning princess, win the heart of heartthrob Link Larkin, and integrate a television show without denting her 'do?  Only in Hairspray!  Welcome to the '60s!

Hairspray
is based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters, who serves as a creative consultant on the musical comedy.  It features a book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, and a score by five-time Academy Award nominee Marc Shaiman (who co-wrote the music and lyrics for the acclaimed animated musical, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut) and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott WittmanHairspray is directed by Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell; scenic design is by David Rockwell; costume design is by William Ivey Long; lighting design is by Kenneth Posner; and sound design is by Steve C. Kennedy.

Hairspray,
which celebrated its fifth anniversary on Broadway in August 2007, is the winner of eight 2003 Tony Awards, including best musical, best actor (Harvey Fierstein), best actress (Marissa Jaret Winokur), best featured actor (Dick Latessa), best score (Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman), best book (Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan), best director (Jack O'Brien), and best costume design (William Ivey Long).  Hairspray also swept every one of the year's best musical awards, winning, in addition to the Tony, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Drama League Award.

Hairspray is produced by Margo Lion; Adam Epstein; The Baruch×Viertel×Routh×Frankel Group; James D. Stern/Douglas L. Meyer; Rick Steiner/Frederic H. Mayerson; SEL & GFO; New Line Cinema, in association with Live Nation; A. Gordon/E. McAllister; D. Harris/M. Swinsky; J. & B. Osher.

Hairspray
plays Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm; Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm; Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm; Sunday at 3pm, at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 52 Street.

For ticket information, phone Ticketmaster at 212-307-4100, or for group sales, phone 212-302-7000 or 800-677-1164.  Hairspray offers the ShowTrans system for foreign-speaking audience members in the following languages: French, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.  Same-day, lottery tickets are sold at the box office for seats in the first row of the orchestra.  For more information about Hairspray, please consult the Hairspray website at www.hairsprayonbroadway.com



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