By Sandi Durell
There is only one, no, two possibilities when it comes to Callaway . . . Liz and Ann Hampton . . . the extraordinary sisters who don’t look alike nor sound alike but make sister music like nobody else, setting the evening’s tone from sparkling, comic opening “Some People” (Gypsy – Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim) – Ann taking the lead as Liz stumbles onto the stage bound and blindfolded to join in on the added special lyrics.
Sister banter continues with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “The Schuyler Sisters” (Hamilton) morphing with Harry Warren/Al Dubin’s “Lullaby of Broadway” (42nd Street).
Blending Liz Callaway’s bell-tone soprano and Ann Hampton Callaway’s deep resonant jazzy mezzo makes for some gorgeous harmonic duets throughout the evening. “Magic to Do/Corner of the Sky” (Stephen Schwartz-Pippin) allowed for innovative harmonies and sensual overtones.
Each provided backstories of their extraordinary musical careers from childhood dreams in Chicago to how it all came about. Ann thought she wanted to be an opera singer at a young age until she spent time listening to the recordings of the jazz greats (Ella, Carmen, Billie) her father would play at home; Liz, a shy child, fell madly in love with anything-everything Broadway seeing movie musicals. The rest is history having grown up with their famous mom, Shirley Callaway, vocal teacher, pianist, singer – the exceptional lady who taught them what they needed to know.
Their styles are so very diverse yet make for a solid oneness of love and listening pleasure. Liz shines on “The Story Goes On” (David Shire/Richard Maltby Jr. – Baby) where her character would close Act One each night on Broadway. Ann exposes her soulful and complex emotions with showstopper “Blues in the Night” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer – Blues in the Night) as if you’re hearing it for the first time. Her powerful delivery continues in flawless harmony with Liz in Sondheim’s “Being Alive” (Company). They are perfect!
And just when you thought it was over – it was time for The Broadway HUGE Medley as they launched into at least 15 + songs that included “Bosom Buddies, “ a counterpoint “You’re Just In Love”/ “Nowadays” / I Will Never Leave You” / “Defying Gravity” – – all jaw dropping! Applause, standing ovations, hoots and shouts.
Yes, they came back to encore Stephen Schwartz’ “For Good” (Wicked) and give credit where it was due . . . to their remarkable musicians Alex Rybeck on piano/musical director, Maryann McSweeney on bass and Ray Marchica (the birthday boy) on drums!
What’s to be said, how many more superlatives can I add for this huggable twosome?
You still have November 27 (7 pm), November 28 and 29 (8 pm) and November 30 (7pm) to feel the love and be embraced by The Callaways. Don’t throw away your shot!
Photos: Stephen Sorokoff
Liz Callaway & Ann Hampton Callaway: Broadway the Calla-way! www.Feinstein’s/54below.com 254 West 54 Street (Cellar) NYC (646) 476-3551