BWW Interviews: Sibling Revelry - BWW Chats with Ann Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway as They Head for OZ
Broadway and Cabaret fans will get the best of both worlds when the Callaway sisters bring their brand of Sibling Revelry to Australia in June.
These American sisters have an impressive list of achievements between them. Ann is an acclaimed singer/songwriter who wrote and sang the theme song to the hit '90s sitcom The Nanny; Liz is a Tony® nominee, and Emmy Award-winning actress - to highlight just a few of the many accomplishments on that list.
And now, for the very first time, they're bringing their cabaret collaboration, Sibling Revelry, to Australia.
A show that had its genesis at New York's famed Rainbows & Stars, Sibling Revelry is a celebration of the sisters' immense talent, and their close family bond. Covering jazz, pop, Broadway (and one huge medley!) the show will have its Australian premier at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, before heading to Sydney and Melbourne.
On the eve of their trip to Australia, the siblings talk theme songs, proudest moments, 'sister lunches' and cocktail courage. Definitely more revelry than rivalry, here is BroadwayWorld Australia's Q&A with the talented Callaway sisters:
1. What can you remember about the very first time you performed together?
Ann: Funny, I'm not sure what the first time we ever performed together actually was. Liz sat in at my gigs years before we put an act together. I remember those times as being slightly hilarious, for instance the time Liz and I improvised the extremely complex jazz song Spain as a duet at the end of the night, when we were both a bit intoxicated. My, those wacky harmonies I came up with on the spot!
When Liz and I did our first show, called Together At Last, I vividly recall Liza Minnelli weeping in the front row, thinking to myself, it doesn't get much better than this.
Liz: Not much, because it was at 2am at a piano bar Ann was playing at, and in order to get my courage up to sing with her, I'd had a few cocktails!
2. How did Sibling Revelry come about, and how has it changed over time?
Ann: Just like God, if it hadn't existed, it would have had to be created. But seriously, the booking came first, and then the show. Rainbow & Stars wanted us, and that was the best room in NY to play, so we had to put the best show together we could. We worked tirelessly around the piano (and the clock) with Alex Rybeck, our musical director, to find songs, and come up with arrangements that fit the theme we decided on - a mini autobiography of our move from our hometown Chicago to NY to pursue our dreams, with the theme of rivalry laced throughout.
The theme helped our focus, and Liz's husband Dan, who was and is our director, helped us take the show to the next level, helping us realize the full potential of each song.
Liz: For years, Ann and I had very busy solo careers. I was doing Broadway, Ann was singing around the country. We always said that we should do a show together, and then someone hired us to do an evening at the Russian Tea Room - so we were forced to put together a show. We called it Together at Last. We had so much fun, we said let's do it again! We got a booking at Rainbow & Stars, and Sibling Revelry was born.
We recently performed Sibling Revelry in New York City, for the first time in 15 years. Although most of the songs are the same, we have updated some of them, as well as our patter. Oh, and our Huge Medley has gotten a little - huge!
3. What is your favourite performance or achievement in your sister's career?
Ann: A sentimental favorite was watching Liz star in her first Broadway show, Baby. Seeing the person I grew up with, who was too shy to sing in front of anyone, command a Broadway audience with that voice, and her whole being, was nothing short of thrilling.
Liz: I'm so proud of her for so many achievements, but I was especially thrilled for Ann when Barbra Streisand recorded At the Same Time on her Higher Ground album; that song was in the original Sibling Revelry 18 years ago, but we didn't include it on the CD, because Ann held out hope that Barbra would someday record it.
4. Outside of performing, what is your favourite thing to do together?
Ann: We are both foodies, so a great meal with wonderful wine is always a joy, and we look forward to some of that fun in Australia. Another favorite thing I hope we do again is go on a spa vacation together. A few years ago Liz took me to Red Mountain Resort, where we hiked, did yoga, bicycled, and bonded in a major way.
Liz: I love when we have "sister lunches": we have great talks, and then go shopping together. Hope to do that in Australia!
5. If you could assign your sister a theme song, what would it be?
Ann: Feelings. Just kidding. I did assign Liz a theme song once - backups to the song I wrote for The Nanny. One of the best decisions I ever made! But Liz is such a shining light, Accentuate the Positive sums it up nicely.
Liz: Oh, that's easy. I Cain't Say No, from Oklahoma. Just kidding. Maybe You're Gonna Hear From Me.
David M Hawkins Presents
SYDNEY: 23 June, The Basement
MELBOURNE: 25 June, Melbourne Recital Centre