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BWW Reviews: 'Cockeyed Optimist' Liz Callaway Captures Audience Hearts at 54 Below Debut

Of all the great tunes in the Carly Simon songbook, you don't often hear "Coming Around Again," in a cabaret show, but Callaway's version is stirring and flawless, as is her rendition of "The Story Goes On" the David Shire/Richard Maltby, Jr. classic from the 1983 musical Baby, which helped earn Callaway a Tony nomination and has become one of her signature songs. But the highlight of the evening may have been Callaway's second parody number, "Another 100 Lyrics," the Lauren Mayer sendup of Stephen Sondheim's "Another 100 People" from Company. Callaway had her audience both stunned and in stitches as in this tour de force she reeled off the lines in rapid-fire riffs, as if she was John Moschitta in those classic old Fed Ex TV spots.

Another hundred lyrics just flew out of my brain,
As I stand here on stage,
With another hundred lyrics that I'll never recall,
And on every damn page,
There's another hundred lyrics that'll drive me insane,
Right in front of you all,
'Cause the words are a pain--

Not to mention the sprawl,
Of the melody.
But we're all singing Sondheim;
Some songs are sweet; some are strange.
We're all singing Sondheim;
There's not one tune in my range,
And every song
Is too damn long."

Based on the raucous audience response to Callaway's performance, two things are fairly certain: Her show wasn't too damn long and everyone could have sat through another 100 songs. If only the Mets could be this good.

Liz Callaway's Show, Coming Around Again, will be at 54 Below tonight at 8:30 pm and 11 pm, November 10 at 8:30 pm and 11 pm, and November 11 at 9 pm. 54 Below is at 254 West 54th Street (Between Broadway and 8th Avenue).

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Stephen Hanks During more than 30 years as a magazine editor/writer, website writer, and book author for a variety of national magazines and websites, Stephen Hanks has written about sports, health and nutrition, parenting, politics, the media, and most recently, musical theater, and cabaret. While by day, Stephen is the Advertising Sales Director for Habitat Magazine (a publication covering life in New York Metro area co-ops and condos), by night he writes reviews and columns about New York City cabaret for BroadwayWorld.com. Stephen also writes feature stories about cabaret for Cabaret Scenes Magazine and CabaretScenes.org. He is also the Board President of Manhattan Musical Theatre Lab, which workshops new musicals in New York City, and he is the founder, producer and director of the Broadway Musical Fantasy Camp, which is a workshop for amateur performers that rehearses and presents staged readings of classic Broadway Musicals. In 2011, Stephen was an Associate Producer for the Off-Broadway show THE FARTISTE. Stephen most recently staged his debut solo cabaret show, "Beyond American Pie: The Don McLean Songbook" at the Metropolitan Room in New York. Please contact Stephen with your comments and questions at: stephenhanks41@gmail.com