Video by Magda Katz
Luba Mason’s 30 year career recently earned her a Lucille Lortel nomination for her role in the acclaimed Public Theater production headed to Broadway this year Girl From The North Country. Standing 5′ 10″, Luba is lithe, has long blonde hair, is married to actor/singer Ruben Blades and is beautiful, but her life was not always as perfect as it seems. Her show at the The Green Room 42 last night was stunning, brave and eye opening.
Together with pianist & music director the legendary Billy Stritch! Luba sang a Broadway centric set list that also described her life. With just an easel Luba lead us on a journey that was captivating, fearless artist and mesmerizing.
Starting with Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller’s “On Broadway” we learned how she changed her name from Lubica Anna Gregusova to Kim Freshwater to Lubitza Gregus, and finally to Luba Mason. She did not change her name to Luba Blades because she was finally comfortable in her own skin.
With Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano” we were led through her days with Lee Theodore and The American Dance Machine and the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, as well as auditions and shows she did not get.
Finding her perfect audition song from 110 In The Shade Luba brought Harvey Schmidt, Tom Jones “Raunchy” to show off her 3-octave range. This song got her into working for Des McAnuff in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Luba after having seen Dreamgirls wanted to be in the show. Tonight she got to sing Henry Krieger’s “When I First Saw You” and broke our hearts. Instead she got cast in Tommy Tune’s The Will Rogers Follies.
Finally getting her first break singing “Raunchy” got her into working for Des McAnuff in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Recreating her role Frank Loesser’s “Love From A Heart Of Gold” showed off Ms. Mason’s comedic chops.
Falling in love for the wrong man steamed from an abusive childhood. Unfortunately that lead to marrying an abusive man, as she emotionally recounted the pain in Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s “I Only Have Eyes For You”.
Paul Simon’s The Capeman, brough her not only a strength to leave that marriage but also a new love with Blades. Richard Carpenter, John Bettis, and Albert Hammond’s “I Need To Be In Love” expressed that transition.
Next up was replacing Linda Eder in Frank Wildhorn’s Jekyll & Hyde. After hearing Luba achingly bring “Someone Like You” to life. You become fully aware of her tour de force performance.
In the Off Broadway Pretty Filthy she knocked the house down with Michael Friedman’s “Beautiful”. Capturing the pain and lifestyle of a porn star Luba showed off her dramatic talents as well as her extraordinary musicianship. Luba was Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel nominated for her role.
Playing Velma Kelly had Ms. Mason recreating “All That Jazz” from the hit musical Chicago.
Ending the concert for me was the biggest surprise. She sang David Yazbek’s “Haled’s Song About Love” from The Band’s Visit and made me love it and admire the lyrical poetry.
Together with Billy Stritch, who accompanied Luba vocally on some of the numbers this was a night of musical brilliance and emotional connection. A night not to have missed.
Luba is also currently finishing a new album Triangle, produced by Renato Neto (who was the Keyboardist for Prince for over 15 years). The album will be released in 2020 and features James Genus on Bass (the Saturday Night Live band, has toured with Herbie Hancock, Branford Marsalis & Bill Evans), and internationally renowned Joe Locke on Vibraphone (who has toured with Rod Stewart).
You can also catch Luba at Feintsetin’s/ 54 Below this December and on Broadway in Girl From The North Country.