BWW Reviews: ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL 2014: ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY AND LIZ CALLAWAY: SIBLING REVELRY Brings Two Great Singers Together
Reviewed Saturday 21st June 2014
Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway: Sibling Revelry brings the two sisters together in an eagerly awaited performance by those of us who saw each of their individual shows at past Adelaide Cabaret Festivals. They went down different musical paths in their careers, Ann becoming an exponent of the Great American Songbook, and Liz going into musical theatre on Broadway. With the assistance of their director, Dan Foster, and musical director, Alex Rybeck, they have crafted a programme of songs that find common ground for duets, with some marvellous harmonies, and allow space for individual numbers from their own specialities.
A sense of fun was set up right from the start with the first few bars of Irving Berlin's Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better from offstage leading into a duet on It's Today from the musical Mame. This had Liz singing a theatrical version with Ann adding jazz vocalisations.
After a brief, and comical, introduction to the show, explaining that it is about their early years that led to their careers, they followed up with another duet on The Sweetest Sounds before Ann's first solo, (If I Had) Rhythm in My Nursery Rhymes, by Saul Chaplin and Sammy Cahn, with lyrics by the trumpeter, Wingy Manone, the 1936 song getting a very modern and swinging arrangement. This called for an introduction to the trio which was led, of course, by Alex Rybeck on piano with Chris Neal on drums and New York based Adelaide bassist, Alana Dawes, who was given extra attention at this point. Then came the poignant song, Old Friend, from I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road.
Some comic interchange followed, as they entered into a little one-upmanship over their achievements, leading into a duet on Cole Porter's Friendship, from Dubarry Was a Lady. Then it was the turn of Liz to sing solo, beginning with the very beautiful Meadowlark by Stephen Schwartz, from The Baker's Wife. The very gentle My Heart is So Full of You from Frank Loesser's The Most Happy Fella showed the range of her voice and the sensitivity of her interpretation.
Just for a little fun, Ann reminded us that she had written the theme music for the television show, The Nanny, and that she and Liz were the singers on the recording, which they then sang. They also presented a very busy medley of songs that people had told them that they should include in the show, which drew a great deal of applause.
The great band provided sensational accompaniment to the sisters, and then there were those two wonderful voices, crooning, swinging, soaring, combining in gorgeous harmonies, and the gentle humour. The rapport between the two, as expected being siblings, added so much to this performance, and their differences in musical tastes and approach to the numbers created some fascinating contrasts.
The reception given to each of these sisters when they were here with their own shows was nothing compared to the reaction of the audience to this combined performance. It was a great success and, hopefully, we'll see them back here together again in the future.