Betty White was beloved by many, but Samantha Lee Mason gets to share that adoration regularly.
She plays White’s character, Rose, in “That Golden Girls Show!” a new “theater experience” that parodies classic “Golden Girls” moments — with puppets. Mason lists the reasons to see the show: cheesecake, laughter, Jazzercise, shoulder pads, sex and schemes.
“It’s super fun,” Mason says. “The character of Rose is known for being very sweet and, playfully, somewhat dim. She’s very earnest and naïve.
“I love getting to bring her to life every day on the stage. Playing Betty White’s character — especially since her death — does bring a lot of weight to the world. It wasn’t there to begin with since I started. I now have the great pleasure to carry on Betty’s legacy the best way I can.”
The 75-minute “That Golden Girls Show!” hits the Chandler Center for the Arts stage on Thursday, March 17, to Sunday, March 20.
“Our story is told through three episodes of the ‘Golden Girls,’” she says. “They’re not episodes that were directly pulled from the actual show. It’s an amalgamation of different lines in the series with a new storyline within the world of the show. It’s very short, very sweet and you’ll laugh the whole time.”
She confesses that even she has a hard time keeping cool during the performance.
“I tend to be pretty good in terms of staying with it in the show,” she says. “But there have been a few moments when something crazy happens and you have to really focus. That’s the beauty of live theater.”
A Chicago native, Mason is a trained musical theater performer who attended Indiana University. Now residing in New York City, she had puppeting experience, thanks to a run with “Reusable the Musical,” written and directed by John Tartaglia.
“Most of my other performances are in musical theater,” she says. “I lived in Japan and worked for Tokyo Disney Resort for a year and a half. I wanted to travel the world, and that was the best way to do it.”
Mason admits she wasn’t an “avid watcher” prior to her auditions for “That Golden Girls Show!” She saw it on Hulu, fell in love with it and binged the entire series.
Now, she gets it.
“That Golden Girls Show!” kicked off its jaunt in 2016 and was forced to close down — just like the rest of the world — due to the pandemic.
“The audience response has just been amazing, too,” she adds. “We look out in the audience and they’re wearing ‘Golden Girls’ face masks. It’s just overwhelming.
“This is the farewell tour now. Fans should see it before it’s gone.”
“That Golden Girls Show!”
WHEN: Various times Thursday, March 17, to Sunday, March 20
WHERE: Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Avenue, Chandler
COST: Tickets start at $36
INFO: 480.782.2680, chandlercenter.org