Making her second appearance and singing songs she originated on Broadway, Liz Callaway thrilled a sold-out crowd at her Friday night opening at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club in downtown Indianapolis.
Callaway is a Tony-winning actress, singer and recording artist who is best known for her performances in “Les Miserables,” “Miss Saigon,” “Baby,” “Merrily We Roll Along” and most notably as Grizabella in “Cats.”
Also known for her work in film, Callaway sang “Journey to the Past,” in “Anastasia,” and was the singing voice of the title character in “The Swan Princess” and “Beauty and the Beast, and also of Princess Jasmine in “Aladdin.”
Accompanied by pianist Alex Rybeck, who also supplied many of the superb arrangements, Callaway sang a program tailored to a vocalist of her range and capacity. Possessing a powerful voice trained to reach the highest balconies in theaters on the Great White Way, Callaway demonstrated her ability to also connect with an audience such as that in the more intimate space of the Cabaret.
Wearing a black skirt with a sequined white top, Chicago native Callaway had an aura of sophistication, but at the same time conveyed approachability through a sparkling personality marked by the sunniest of dispositions.
Callaway’s first act consisted of Broadway hits such as “Something’s Coming” from “West Side Story,” “Nothing’s Gonna Harm You” from “Sweeney Todd,” and “Something Wonderful” from “The King and I.”
Also included was Rybeck’s clever arrangement of “Raindrops Keep Falling,” from the 1969 film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” from the 1952 movie musical comedy of the same title, which Callaway sang with the pianist.
Callaway’s second act was stronger than the first. Where the first part was just a warmup, the second part was truly an embarrassment of riches.
A highlight was her knockout rendition of “Losing Your Mind,” which she sang in a 1985 concert version of “Follies.” Singing with unbridled passion, she made a tremendous dramatic impact with an interpretation filled with emotional pain and angst.
Spitting forth lyrics like a speeding bullet, Callaway, the comic, delighted the crowd with a parody of “Another 100 People” (“and another 100 lyrics just flew out of my head”) from Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.”
Callaway did not disappoint those present who hoped she would sing her signature song, “Memory,” from “Cats.” Performing it with her customary ampleness, she also interpreted other songs from her rich repertoire, which included “Meadowlark,” from “The Baker’s Wife,” and “Perfect Year,” from “Sunset Boulevard.”
After introducing Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly and Producer Ty Johnson, who were in the audience, Callaway made a surprise announcement. She and her equally well-known sister and fellow Broadway star, Ann Hampton Callaway, who debuted their show “Sibling Rivalry” last year with the ISO, are returning in December. They will be co-hosts for the ISO’s annual holiday show, “Yuletide Celebration.”
For information about the remainder of the Cabaret at the Columbia Club 2011 season, call (317) 275-1169 or visit www.thecabaret.org.