The Callaways call their cabaret act Sibling Revelry, and the punning title works both ways: they sing up a storm, and they tweak their supposed sisterly envy. (At one point they go so far as to whip out velvet-lined cases filled with the various Manhattan cabaret awards each has won.) Ann is by far the better known of the two, largely because she wrote and sang the theme for the sitcom The Nanny, a song far more sophisticated than the show’s humor; she’s also issued several high-profile discs that straddle cabaret and jazz. Recently a number of singers have dedicated records to the greats–Dianne Reeves to Sarah Vaughan, Patti Austin to Ella Fitzgerald–but on her latest, Signature (N-Coded), Hampton Callaway has chosen a trickier conceit. Each of the dozen tunes pays homage to the singer who made it famous: she dedicates “Tenderly” to Vaughan, “The Best Is Yet to Come” to Tony Bennett, “Route 66” to Nat Cole, and so on. This approach puts Hampton Callaway in danger of slipping into impersonation (and from there into unintentional parody), but her clear, sturdy voice–especially lovely in its bell-like upper register–helps her maintain her own personality. Her sister Liz is no slouch herself, having recorded three discs under her own name. She’s a well-known figure on Broadway (she spent five years as Grizabella in Cats) and also commands attention on Manhattan’s busy cabaret scene, but she doesn’t often travel beyond the Hudson. Together, the Callaways bring a large dose of Broadway energy to their cleverly conceived, well-written act, so far performed in Chicago only once (a version was released on CD in the mid-90s). This return visit is a homecoming in the truest sense: the sisters grew up on the North Shore, and they’ve spoken about hearing some of their earliest musical heroes on trips to Ravinia with their father, veteran Chicago newsman John Callaway. Sunday, June 30, 4:30 PM, and Monday, July 1, 8 PM, Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park; 847-266-5100.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bill Westmoreland.