It’s been eleven years since Liz Callaway released her CD “The Beat Goes On,” a staple to musical theatre fans everywhere. Last night she returned to Feinstein’s/54 Below featuring songs from her iconic album, 60’s favorites, mostly from film that never made the cut and a musical theatre
Ms. Callaway made her Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Baby, and for five years, won acclaim as Grizabella in Cats. She has also starred in the original casts of Miss Saigon, The Three Musketeers, and The Look of Love. In addition, Ms. Callaway has established a major career as a concert and recording artist.
As the sunny faced songstress hit the stage, waves of nostalgia came, as the the first strains of Sonny Bono’s 1967 hit “The Beat Goes On” mashed-up into ” Paul Simon’s, 1966 anthem “Feelin’ Groovy” mixing in the money note from Shire and Maltby’s Baby.
John Madara & David White, 1963 “You Don’t Own Me,” was the reason Ms. Callaway felt it was time to revisit this material. It’s really interesting, at this point in our country, to sing Lesley Gore song.
I wore out my CD listening to Alex Rybeck’s arrangement of Jimmy Webb’s, 1967 “Up, Up and Away.”Suddenly we are in the stars and flying with Liz’s pure tones sending up into the universe.
From Hair “Frank Mills” became the perfect song of innocent longing.
On The Mama and the Papa’s 1966 hit “Monday, Monday” Jared Egan (Bass) and Alex Rybeck added the perfect back-up harmony. Ron Tierno (Drums)
A mash-up of Burt Bacharach & Hal David’s, 1968 “Promises, Promises” into “Knowing When to Leave,” made me want to see Ms. Callaway in the role of Fran. She added the perfect angst and resolve to the lyric.
Not many people know that John Denver write the 1966 hit “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane.” Ms Callaway made this a journey of aching and pure love. She made every word count as if they would stop her from going away.
John Lennon & Paul McCartney, 1966 “Eleanor Rigby” became a look at being forgotten.
Henry Mancini’s, 1967 “Two for the Road,” Leslie Bricusse’s, 1969 “You and I,” André and Dory Previn’s, 1967 “Theme from the Valley of Dolls and John Kander and Fred Ebb 1964 “Maybe This Time” from the film Cabaret made into the 60’s film songs that never made it to the album. At first I wondered why Cabaret had been included but then remembered that Cabaret was written and recorded in 1964 for Kaye Ballard, who was singing in clubs and on TV back then. But Kander and Ebb had also gotten to know Liza Minnelli (she starred in their 1965 musical Flora The Red Menace, and the song was given to her – to Kaye’s eternal displeasure. The song was written long before Cabaret was a twinkle in anyone’s eye. The Broadway musical arrived in 1966 and it took until 1972 to make the film. (Thank-you Alex Rybeck for the triva. Love learning new things!)
A truly fun look at getting older embodied Paul McCartney’s, 1967 “When I’m 64.” I don’t think I have ever liked the song so much.
Jimmy Webb’s , 1968 “Didn’t We” into the middle section of “McArthur Park,” Petula Clark’s 1964 hit “Downtown” and Joni Mitchell’s icon 1967 “Both Sides Now” finished the set.
For her encore The Beach Boy’s 1966 ” Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” has become the new song for Gay marriages.
Ms. Callaway has an almost perfect voice which wraps around songs like a gift. Her clarity and purity of sound makes for an evening that is not to be forgotten.
Director Dan Foster put together an evening where couples where cuddling and smiles abounded and we were reminded just how fabulous Liz Callaway really is.
Liz Callaway: The Beat Goes On at Feinstein’s/54 Below, 234 West 54th St. at 7 PM July 25, 28, 29, and September 10.