Regional Reviews: Phoenix
The Callaway sisters debuted their "Sibling Revelry" show in 1995 at New York's Rainbow and Stars, and the show was recorded and released as a live audio recording in 1996. They have continued to perform it around the country, and even internationally, ever since. While Ann has performed at Arizona Musicfest several times, this was Liz's first appearance.
The show offers a bit of history for both Ann and Liz as they talk about how they both moved together from their home outside of Chicago to New York and the dreams and aspirations they had at that time. In addition to most of the songs from the original version of this show, there were a few additions in "Sibling Revelry" as well as a lively Q&A session at the end of the evening. The song set included a nice selection of duos as well as several solo songs, and the patter covered their earlier days growing up in Chicago, the various New York City jobs and shows they were in, as well as their competitive nature.
The concert got off on a high note with an upbeat and exuberant performance of "It's Today" from Mame and then, after introductions, a lovely pairing of "The Sweetest Sounds" (No Strings) and "I Can See it" (The Fantasticks). Both songs showed off the rich, blending harmonies that were on display throughout the evening, with Ann's warm and earthy tones and Liz's bright and clear soprano voice combining into vocal magic. Ann followed the opening numbers with two solo songs, the bright and bouncy "Rhythm in My Nursery Rhymes," which allowed her to show off her scatting abilities as well as her skill in imitating various musical instruments, and a pairing of "My Buddy" and the gorgeous Nancy Ford and Gretchen Cryer song from I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking it On the Road, "Old Friend."
A slowed down arrangement of the comical song "Friendship" from Anything Goes played off on the sisters' rivalry, and then Liz delivered two solo performances. These included a soaring delivery of Steven Schwartz's "Meadowlark," from The Baker's Wife, and a gorgeously moving performance of Frank Loesser's "My Heart Is So Full of You," from The Most Happy Fella, which Liz said she's sung at many weddings, including at Ann's.
Ann wrote the title song for the TV show "The Nanny," which the two of them sang for that show, and their performance of the upbeat tune was a comical highlight. A soaring arrangement of "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel followed, with their voices blending to perfection, which closed the first half of the evening.
A medley of songs from Gypsy opened up the second half that let the sisters show off their comedic side. This was followed by two solo songs that Liz sang, the Oscar-nominated "Journey to the Past," which she sang in the film Anastasia, and a song she sang for several years on Broadway, "Memory" from Cats. Both songs gave Liz the chance to display her soaring high notes and wonderful connection to the lyrics. Next, Ann delivered a crowd-pleasing performance of "Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl and what I thought was the highlight of the evening, a stunning performance of "Blues in the Night" from a Tony-nominated show she appeared in, Swing!, which she dedicated to the "single and bitter people here tonight."
The hilarious medley they've dubbed "The Huge Medley," which was created from many of the song suggestions they were given by friends and family when they were starting to put together this show back in 1995, has been expanded to include "What Is This Feeling?" from Wicked and "Nowadays" from Chicago, adding to those that were in the original medley, such as "Sisters" from White Christmas, "Bosom Buddies" from Mame, and "A Boy Like That" from West Side Story. It even includes a small portion of "I Still Believe" which Liz sang in the original Broadway cast of Miss Saigon, along with numerous other fun duets from Broadway shows, such as A Little Night Music, Chess, and City of Angels, as well as a driving delivery of the pop hit "Enough Is Enough" that Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer originally sang.
Another Streisand duet followed, the beautiful pairing of "Happy Days Are Here Again" and "Get Happy" that she sang with Judy Garland on Garland's TV show, and it was pure perfection sung by the Callaway sisters. Liz was in the original Broadway cast of Merrily We Roll Along and the concert ended with a beautiful rendition of "Our Time" from that show. Liz talked about the first time she heard Stephen Sondheim play the song for the cast and how she called Ann after rehearsals and said that she felt the lyrics said exactly how they felt when they first moved to New York City from Chicago. She added that it's also how they still feel today.
A lively question and answer session followed, moderated by Arizona Musicfest's executive and producing director Allan Naplan, before one final encore, a beautiful performance of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend."
The Callaways were backed up by a trio of excellent musicians: Kevin Axt on bass, MB Gordy on drums, and music director Alex Rybeck on piano. Throughout the evening, Ann and Liz were clearly having a great time, whether singing songs they loved to perform, joking with each other, or connecting with the audience. Even though they may poke fun at each other and have a competitive nature throughout the evening (played up in a fun moment where they discuss their individual accomplishments and awards), the sisters clearly have a lot of love and respect for each other which is apparent throughout the evening.
The sound at the Highlands Church, where the majority of the Arizona Musicfest concerts are performed, is some of the best in the Valley, as are the excellent sightlines, which ensures there isn't a bad seat in the entire venue.
Liz Callaway and Ann Hampton Callaway in "Sibling Revelry" performed at the Arizona Musicfest on March 7, 2022. Information for upcoming Arizona Musicfest concerts can be found at www.azmusicfest.org