It’s Today! Karen Mason & Lee Roy Reams
Karen Mason & Lee Roy Reams celebrate the songs and music of Broadway legend Jerry Herman at The Iridium for one night only!
by Linda Amiel Burns
On May 31, 2016, ScoBar Entertainment presented “It’s Today!” at The Iridium in a very special show with Karen Mason & Lee Roy Reams singing the songs of legendary composer Jerry Herman, with music director Alex Rybeck on piano. Jerry Herman is one of the most successful songwriters in musical theater history, providing music and lyrics to three long-running shows — Hello, Dolly!, Mame and La Cage aux Folles — as well as four other Broadway productions between 1961 and 1983.
Herman is known for witty lyrics and hummable melodies and this was demonstrated in the dynamic opening number “Showtune” from Herman’s first revue Parade in 1960, starring Dody Goodman and Charles Nelson Riley. His next show was Milk & Honey and Karen & Lee Roy dueted on the lovely “Shalom” from that show. Lee Roy has had a long history with Jerry Herman and particularly Hello Dolly. He was sensational singing a medley of “Put On Your Sunday Clothes, “It Only Takes a Moment, and “Before The Parade Passes By.” One of the most memorable moments I can remember in all my days of going to cabaret shows, was seeing Lee Roy at the famed Rainbow & Stars being accompanied by Jerry Herman on piano in a revue of his songs. Lee Roy continues to keep the songs as fresh and exciting as it was back then.
This prolific composer followed up Hello Dolly with another mega hit, Mame. Karen sang a moving version of “If He Walked Into My Life,” a big hit from that show. Lee Roy explained that Jerry was looking for an opening song, and one day he came home and his mother was dressed up, hors d’oeuvres were out, and when he asked what the occasion was, she said, “It’s Today!” Lee Roy sang a bang up version of that iconic song.
Dear World, was next also starring Angela Lansbury. It had a fine score, but was not a hit. Karen sang “I Was Beautiful” as a woman looking back on her youth. Lee Roy sang the amusing and tender “Mrs. Jacobovsky” from The Grand Tour, based on the play, Jacobovsky and the Colonel, with clever lyrics about how to merge two religions in a relationship.
Mack & Mabel is said to be Herman’s favorite show and this incredible score was not even nominated for a Tony in 1975. The two incredible performers took turns on a wonderful medley that began with the fun “Movies” and then Lee Roy danced and sang to “Tap Your Troubles Away” and the extraordinary “I Won’t Send Roses, “ a warning song about what to expect from a relationship, so “stay away, kid.” Karen’s expressive voice scored on the heartbreaking “Time Heals Everything.”
At one point, Jerry Herman thought that his optimistic and bright musicals had gone out of style as “darker” themes began to emerge on Broadway. Looking for new challenges, he saw a small French film….. and the brilliant La Cage Aux Folles was born. This terrific show has been made into a great film and revived on Broadway many times. Karen sang the love song, “Song on the Sand” recalling a tune that brings up a memory. Then the master showman Lee Roy put on his big red boa and sang the showstopper opening song “La Cage Aux Folles” and brought in imitations of Mae West, Tallulah and Marlena. If that wasn’t enough, he tore the house down with “I Am What I Am.”
“The Best of Times” was the perfect closing as the audience sang along. The sentiment is to celebrate the moment as the best of times is NOW! It certainly was a great time at The Iridium with the magic combination of Karen Mason, Lee Roy Reams, and Alex Rybeck singing the songs of one of America’s greatest treasures, Jerry Herman.
The Iridium Jazz Club
1650 Broadway, New York, NY 10019 (212) 582-2121
Photos: Maryann Lopinto