Liz Callaway and Ann Hampton Callaway are singing sisters. You may know Liz from her work in musicals (the original Ellen in the Broadway Miss Saigon; young Sally in Follies in Concert at the Lincoln Center: a must-buy on DVD) or from her work voicing Disney princesses (Anastasia, The Return of Jafar).
Ann, known for her jazz albums and songwriting for the likes of Barbra Streisand and Blossom Dearie, has been running The Callaway Hideway regularly over the past year via Zoom. This is their in-person reunion after Covid-enforced separation, and yes, it is two women at a piano with microphones, but sometimes that’s all you need.
It is a set of cabaret and musical staples: Side by Side and Here Come The Callaways both reflect their family relationship before moving on to popular music pieces Come In From The Rain (Manchester/Bayer Sager) and Moondance (Van Morrison, but I know the cover by Bobby Tench almost by heart).
Broadway gets its own showcase with a sparkling Sondheim medley from Liz, followed up by Ann’s version of Stormy Weather blending into When The Sun Comes Out (both Arlen/Koehler). Not content with their resurrection of the wonderful Ethel Waters and Ella Fitzgerald, we also get a bit of Janis Joplin’s Mercedes Benz and even Three Dog Night’s Joy to the World!
In fact, the Callaways love medleys, with one recalling the songs they sang as children, and another opening with Irving Berlin’s Sisters (“Lord, help the mister who comes between me and my sister / And Lord, help the sister who comes between me and my man”) and ending with Get Happy (Arlen/Koehler).
There’s also one of my favourite underrated Sondheim pieces, Our Time (Liz was in the original 1981 production of Merrily We Go Along). Ann’s smoky bar-room vocals sit well with Liz’s more delicate tones, and together or apart, this is just an enjoyable concert to watch. Hopefully soon they will be back to live stages entertaining audiences in the room as well as over the Zoom …
Clearly comfortable with each other’s company and with that easy sense of style that only siblings can have, the Callaways present a fabulous ninety minutes of what is popularly termed “a class act”. They don’t need frills and gimmicks to enhance their act, just their melodies and their endearing way of charming an audience, even when a number goes slightly astray.
You can watch The Callaway Sisters: Side by Side on demand until the 31 May here.
LouReviews received complimentary access to review The Callaway Sisters: Side by Side.