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BWW Review: LIZ CALLAWAY: COMIN' AROUND AGAIN is an Enchanting Journey to the Past at 54 Below

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Liz Callaway Returns to 54 Below with a Simultaneous Live Stream

BWW Review: LIZ CALLAWAY: COMIN' AROUND AGAIN is an Enchanting Journey to the Past at 54 Below

Somewhere in the middle of her show COMIN' AROUND AGAIN, which opened tonight at 54 Below, Liz Callaway casually mentioned that this year Merrily We Roll Along will celebrate its 40th anniversary. How is it possible that Liz Callaway (Baby, Cats, Miss Saigon, The Three Musketeers, The Look of Love) has been entertaining Broadway audiences for 40 years? Her voice is as fresh and supple as it was all those years ago. She has always had a remarkable instrument, always squarely in the center of the pitch, with perfect diction. She has the ability to belt and still sound like she's just talking. She has amazing technique that never calls attention to itself. It is a voice you never grow tired of listening to.

It's been two years since she last performed live in New York. So COMIN' AROUND AGAIN is an apt title for the return of one of Broadway's favorite singers. And although the title refers to Carly Simon's song from the film Heartburn, which Ms. Callaway interprets beautifully, the show really concentrates on the high points of her illustrious career, hitting all the tunes that fans really want to hear. It was deeply satisfying on many levels. I will admit to being an unabashed fan of Liz Callaway since my early college days when my friends and I would obsess over every minute detail of her performance of "The Story Goes On."

BWW Review: LIZ CALLAWAY: COMIN' AROUND AGAIN is an Enchanting Journey to the Past at 54 Below

Her performance tonight began with Petula Clark's hit "I Know a Place" combined with the disco chart-topper, "Celebration." It set the right mood for an evening dedicated to joyously reveling in live music. She continued with Cy Colman's beautiful "You There in the Back Row," which is a great favorite from her many recordings. She dedicated a section to love, singing a medley of "Make Someone Happy" and "Something Wonderful, " which she paired with a rare gem, Rupert Holmes' haunting "The People That You Never Get to Love." She rounded out the section with one of her perennial concert set pieces, Stephen Schwartz's "Meadowlark." She received a standing ovation in the middle of her show for her gorgeous performance.

She switched gears with "Broadway Baby," which she used to introduce a section dedicated to the work of Stephen Sondheim, who has been instrumental in many stages of her career. Between verses of the song, she told stories about how she came to New York from her native Chicago and eventually got cast in the chorus of Merrily We Roll Along. She told a lovely story about covering for Ann Morrison, the lead of the show, while she was sick during previews. She sang a very well-acted rendition of "Old Friends/Like It Was" from that show. She gave everyone a good laugh with her parody of Company entitled "Another Hundred Lyrics," which poked fun at the complexity of Sondheim's songs. She concluded her Sondheim tribute with a very heartfelt "Send in the Clowns."

The house went crazy when she began a medley of "Once Upon a December" and "Journey to the Past" from the animated film, Anastasia. It's not every singer who gets a signature song that is such a tour-de-force. Ms. Callaway knocked it out of the park. She then sang the title song of her show, Carly Simon's "Comin' Around Again." She found all the wonderful acting moments in this heartbreaking song. As a side note, why has no one gotten around to using Carly's Simon's songs as the basis of a Broadway show? They are theatrical, and emotional and lend themselves to storytelling. Liz Callaway would be the perfect person to star in such a show. Broadway producers, get on it!

BWW Review: LIZ CALLAWAY: COMIN' AROUND AGAIN is an Enchanting Journey to the Past at 54 Below

For her finale, Liz Callaway let us in on her secret for surviving the pandemic. She sang every day. Just the act of singing a song helped her get through the months of quarantine and distancing. She sang a great medley of tunes with the word "Sing" in their titles as an illustration of how to keep yourself sane around the house. It was arranged by her long-time musical director, Alex Rybeck, who also played piano brilliantly for tonight's show. Callaway was also wonderfully supported by Ritt Henn on bass and Ron Tierno on drums. All three are amazingly gifted musicians.

I will admit to feeling a little misty when Rybeck started the vamp to "The Story Goes On" as Liz Callaway returned for an encore. It is one of the songs that made me fall in love with musical theatre all those many years ago. To hear it sung live by Ms. Callaway is a rare treat indeed. I was one, among a houseful of fans who gave her an immediate standing ovation.

COMIN' AROUND AGAIN is back at 54 Below Monday, August 9 at 7 PM. In addition to the live show, 54 Below is also live-streaming the show. Contact 54below.com for tickets to both the live show and the stream. For more information on Liz Callaway, visit her website lizcallaway.com or follow her @LizGoesOn on Twitter or @lizgoeson on Instagram.


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