Brian Lasser was born in Chicago, where he received his initial training in musical theater and returned to embark on a career as an actor/singer/dancer after studying at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Lasser helped re-introduce cabaret as a vital entertainment form in Chicago, playing sold-out shows at the Park West, Old Vic and Ravinia. These successes led him to more theatrical pursuits in New York.
Lasser began working with vocalist Karen Mason in 1976, and was her musical director/arranger for fifteen years. Their partnership resulted in an album, Not So Simply Broadway, and her one-woman show, One Tough Cookie, written with Gary Gardner.
Lasser's first Off-Broadway musical, The Matinee Kids, won an ASCAP Popular Music Grant. His second, Bundle of Nerves, was produced at the Village Gate in New York and won the Village Critics Award for Best Musical Score Off-Broadway in 1984. His 1991 musical The Black Tulip, written with Tracy Friedman, received its world premiere at the Center Theater in Chicago. He contributed original songs to Martin Charnin's No Frills Revue, and to Eighty-Eights' Here's To Our Friends with one of his collaborators, David Arthur.
In 1984 Lasser received an After Dark Hall of Fame Award for his lifetime contribution to entertainment in Chicago, a Chicago "Clio" Award for Best Musical Radio Spot, and an ASCAP Award for Most Promising Composer.
Lasser was also well known for his cabaret and concert work in New York. He arranged, directed and wrote special material for a wide variety of performing artists, including Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert at the Rainbow Room, and Karen Mason in Karen Mason Sings Broadway, Beatles and Brian at the Minetta Lane Theatre. He received two Manhattan Association of Cabaret (MAC) Awards for Best Direction and Special Material, and a special commendation award from the Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Foundation.
His song "Hold Me" won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Song in 1998.
Fourteen of his songs were recorded by Karen Mason on her 1996 album Better Days, and were published by Lasserations Music in 2000 under the title The Songs of Brian Lasser.
Brian Lasser died of AIDS in New York at the age of 40 on November 20, 1992. —Nurit Tilles
Theatre Profiles 10: The Illustrated Guide to America's Nonprofit Professional Theatres by Steven Samuels
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Theatre Communications Group; 1st edition (January 1, 1993)
Amazon: Theatre Profiles 10: The Illustrated Guide to America's Nonprofit Professional Theatres
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