Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway
Two Callaways for the price of one
From her first visit here in 2001 to inaugurate Austin Cabaret Theatre, Ann Hampton Callaway has enchanted our city. This New York singer's velvety voice and vivacity, her wit and way with a lyric, and her intoxicating enthusiasm for the Great American Songbook enraptured audiences. She returned to delight us in 2002 and 2004 and is back for her fourth visit this week. Now, what could be better than having a Callaway croon right to you? How about two Callaways? To launch his grand cabaret series' seventh season, ACT Director Stuart Moulton has booked Ann and her sister Liz, a singer as accomplished in Broadway circles as Ann is in jazz. Each stays awfully busy on her own, but they love singing together and find time to do so occasionally in their sister acts, Sibling Revelry and Relative Harmony. In anticipation of them doing so in Austin for the first time, I quizzed them about each other, speaking to them separately in order to see how closely their answers matched.
Austin Chronicle: What's it like in the dressing room when you two are together?
Ann Hampton Callaway: I sometimes feel like people miss the funniest part of the show in the dressing room as we're getting ready and figuring out at the last minute what we're going to say or in rehearsals, where we completely goof on all our songs. We should charge money to have people witness the hilarity between the Callaway sisters.
Liz Callaway: We do rehearse what we're going to say a little bit, but it's a total gabfest. We should sell tickets to our rehearsals. We completely lose our minds. We are insane. Sometimes it's exhausting because I'm laughing so hard. It's like, "Oh my God, I need a nap just to recover from rehearsal."
AC: How would you describe your sister as a singer?
AHC: I think of Liz as having a sunlit voice and me as having a moonlit voice. Liz has one of those clarion, beautiful, pure, powerful voices that can do just about anything. She has a strong, interesting blend between being a Broadway belter and doing pop music with feeling and intelligence.
LC: She's brilliant in that she can do every style of music and have a ridiculous range. Her voice – there's a smoky quality to it, a real emotional quality that I just love. Our voices are so different, but for some reason, when we sing together, there's that crazy sister blend that just fits.
AC: What does singing with your sister bring out in you that's different than when you sing solo?
AHC: When you're doing your own thing, you have the freedom and spontaneity to do whatever you feel. When you're singing with someone, it's very important to listen and be completely in the moment and completely attuned to that other person, breathing with them, blending with them. I'm such a free spirit, I don't always want to do things the same way, but there's a certain discipline that singing with Liz has helped me develop.
LC: When you're singing with another person, you're listening to them and trying to become one with them. She challenges me to be the best musician I can be. I mean, there is no one I would rather sing with. It's just so much fun.
AC: What's the childhood event that your sister won't let you forget?
AHC: We used to dare each other, so I dared her to eat a stick of butter. When she was a baby, I pinched her so she would cry and the babysitter would think she was a bad baby. Things like that, those horrible older-sister things.
LC: She says that I locked her in a closet and that I tried to stab her with a Brownie jackknife. I deny that. I don't even remember having a Brownie jackknife. And she, of course, dared me to eat a stick of butter, and I did.
Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway perform Sept. 13 and 14, Thursday and Friday, 8:30pm, at the Mansion on Judges' Hill, 1900 Rio Grande. For more information, call 453-ACTS or visit www.austincabaret.org.