DIVA TALK: She Said/She Said with Tony Nominees Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK: She Said/She Said with Tony Nominees Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway
 
News, views and reviews about the multi-talented women of the musical theatre and the concert/cabaret stage.

LIZ and ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY
Those who have been lucky enough to enjoy the previous duets outings of sisters Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway know the blending of their two different, but equally thrilling voices produces some of the most beautiful sounds one will encounter on any concert stage. Following the critically acclaimed Sibling Revelry and Relative Harmony, the Tony-nominated sisters (Liz for Baby and Ann for Swing!) will present their latest act, Boom!, June 4 at Town Hall. The 8 PM concert features songs from the Callaways' childhoods, focusing on the "boomers" songs of the '60s and '70s. Audiences can expect to hear the two sisters wrap their rich, expressive voices around tunes made famous by Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Carly Simon, The Beatles, Paul Simon, Jimmy Webb and Stevie Wonder. I recently posed the same set of questions to Liz and Ann; their answers follow:

Liz Callaway

LIZ
Tell me about your new show Boom!
Liz: Boom! explores the musical influences of our childhood - music from the '60s and '70s. These are the songs we grew up listening to. Ann and I actually had very different taste in music, and it's been fun re-examining all these songs as adults. I think we appreciate each other's favorites a lot more now that we are grown up. What is one song you're particularly excited about performing and why?
Liz: I don't know if there is one that I can single out. We are doing a medley of Stevie Wonder songs which is pretty thrilling to sing, but then again I'm pretty jazzed about everything we're doing. We recorded a duet of Carly Simon's "That's the Way I've Always Heard it Should Be" on my new CD — I'm very much looking forward to singing that with her.

Tell me about sharing the stage with your sister.
Liz: I love sharing the stage with Ann. Of course, I enjoy singing solos in our shows, but then I always feel afterwards, "Oh goody, we get to sing together again!" It's pretty remarkable to share the stage with someone that you trust completely, that you know will be totally in sync with you. Ann also challenges me to be a better singer — she even makes me scat sing on occasion…for which she will pay dearly someday.

Describe your sister's singing voice. What makes her a great singer?
Liz: Her voice is like a very expensive whiskey — full-bodied, smoky and rich. She sings with so much emotion, so much heart. She also has an incredible ear for harmony. When we experiment with songs, you should hear the harmonies she comes up with. I don't know how she does it. What is one thing people don't know about your sister that they should?
Liz: That she's addicted to Facebook? Oh, wait, everybody already knows that.

What is your favorite memory of performing on stage with your sister?
Liz: I recall one time we were doing our show Sibling Revelry, and Ann forgot the words to a duet we were singing, but somehow we managed to sing the wrong words together — telepathy I guess. It was kind of cool and kind of scary.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
Liz: It's a very busy spring. A week in San Francisco with Ann, Sondheim concerts at the Kennedy Center, Broadway By the Year on May 10 at Town Hall, and then immediately following Boom! I'm off to Australia and Tasmania for three weeks to perform concerts with Stephen Schwartz as well as my solo show at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Ann Hampton Callaway

ANN
Tell me about your new show Boom!
Ann: Liz and I are creating an act that might feel more like a happening than just a concert. There is something very powerful about the songs we are choosing from our baby-boomer childhood. You should see us with our iPhones at every rehearsal recording all sorts of musical ideas together with our musical director Alex Rybeck. There we are, weaving our unique tastes and sensibilities into what is sure to be a joyous celebration of the songs, singers and writers who have inspired not only us but an entire generation. What is one song you're particularly excited about performing and why?
Ann: It's not just one song, but it's a highlight in the show — our Stevie Wonder Medley is rich with amazing songs, gorgeous harmonies and those inimitable grooves that are so Wonder-full.

Tell me about sharing the stage with your sister.
Ann: Share? Do I have to? But seriously, it's about the most fun a person could have. With all our history and the almost psychic bond we have musically, we can just let it all out with complete abandon and trust each moment. And, there is always a steady undercurrent of excitement to be singing with someone so talented — you never want to do anything but your best.

Describe your sister's singing voice. What makes her a great singer?
Ann: Liz's voice is like the light just after the sun rises when everything is awash in gold and even New York City looks brand new. Liz is Liz when she sings — nothing gets in the way of her soul. She always knows how to stand in front of an audience and tell the truth with complete freedom. She has something rarely heard in music today — sweetness. Somehow she has retained that beautiful quality that so many lose from the hard knocks in life, so you feel safe and renewed by her spirit when you hear her sing.

What is one thing people don't know about your sister that they should?
Ann: She was so shy about singing in front of people as a child. We had to spy on her to hear her glorious voice. So when you watch her fearlessly electrify an audience with her shimmering heart and voice, you are watching a miracle that has unfolded over all these years.

What is your favorite memory of performing on stage with your sister?
Ann: I loved singing our show Sibling Revelry at Ravinia outside of Chicago where we grew up. Hundreds of people from our past were there, and their ovations made us feel like rock stars. Another highlight was singing "Our Time" with a full orchestra televised outside at Millennium Park in Chicago in honor of the 50th anniversary of our dad's TV station WTTW. The meaning of the words came more alive than ever as we sang to each other about our dreams with the magnificent skyline of our childhood and our father's face gleaming beyond. Do you have any other projects in the works?
Ann: Aside from some CD projects I am scoping out, I have about 25 songs I want to finish writing if I can sneak some time away from computers and cell phones. And, I am developing my series "Singer's Spotlight," which is still intended as a TV series when the economy improves, but we are working out the details to start it as a four-part radio series of one-hour shows to celebrate the finest singers of The Great American Songbook from musical theatre, pop and jazz.

[Town Hall is located in Manhattan at 123 West 43rd Street. Tickets, priced $45 and $50, are available by calling (212) 307-4100 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com. For more information visit www.the-townhall-nyc.org.]

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.

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