Presented by the Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed Thurs 24th June 2010
Venue: Festival Theatre Stage, Adelaide Festival Centre
Bookings: BASS 131 241 or http://www.bass.net.au
Liz Callaway has appeared in countless musicals, concerts and cabaret performances as well as singing Journey to the Past in the animated film Anastasia and providing the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in Aladdin and singing the title role in The Swan Princess, as well as roles in numerous others. Her list of achievements is extensive and diverse to the point of eclectic. The audience had no idea what to expect in this performance with such a vast repertoire on which she could draw. The only ‘given’ was that we would get to hear her wonderful voice live, at long last.
She opened, appropriately, with You There in the Back Row from Cy Coleman’s musical, 13 Days to Broadway. This went to You Don’t Own Me, the Leslie Gore hit from the 1960s, one of her favourite eras of music, staying there for Make Someone Happy, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Adolph Green and Betty Comden, taken from the 1960 show, Do Re Mi. This continued without a break into the Rodgers and Hammerstein song from The King and I, Something Wonderful: and it was.
In these first few songs we had already seen the versatility of Callaway’s voice and her ability to take songs from various genres and eras and make them her own. Next came a set that lovers of musical theatre always hope for.
Stephen Sondheim is rarely overlooked and she next offered a marvellous version of that plaintive song, Meadowlark, from The Baker’s Wife. She appeared in a not very successful show, Brownstone, that contained the bittersweet song, Since You Stayed Here, which she reprised for us. This was followed by another Sondheim song, What More do I Need? from Saturday Night. She stayed with Sondheim for Not a Day Goes By from Merrily We Roll Along, her first Broadway show, albeit short lived. This was followed by a comic rewriting of Another Hundred People, originally from Sondheim’s Company, but with new words, beginning with Another Hundred Lyrics (just flew out of my brain), this parody sending up the often complex lyrics, difficult rhymes, awkward metres and unusual modulations of Sondheim’s music. This parody, however, is perhaps even harder than Sondheim’s original version, but she made it look so easy. Not While I’m Around, from Sweeney Todd, was next, blending into Stop, Time, from the musical Big, written by David Shire and Richard Maltby making the move away from this sensational Sondheim set.
Next she moved to her work singing for animated musical films, offering Journey to the Past, from Anastasia. Back to the 1960s, with a reference to her CD of music of that era, she then had the audience singing along to Downtown, the Tony Hatch song that was a huge hit for Petula Clark in 1965
An unusual job for any singer would be as the stand-in for Barbra Streisand at her rehearsals, but Liz Callaway has done it all. This was the cue for her to sing People. A short section from The Perfect Year, from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, led into Memories from Cats. This, closing the show, brought even more rapturous applause that took a very time to finish before she could move on to an encore, The Story Goes On, from the musical Baby.
Liz Callaway’s performance was extremely popular with the audience and there was no doubt that she will be welcome back anytime. Her sister, Anne Hampton Callaway, was also a big hit here at a previous Cabaret Festival and, aside from each having their own careers, they also perform together. We can only hope that, in the very near future, they are invited to bring their duo show to Adelaide.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor Glam Adelaide.