Ann Hampton Callaway is a multiplatinum-selling pop and jazz singer/songwriter best known for writing and singing the theme from the TV hit The Nanny. She also has the distinction of writing three songs for Barbra Streisand, and that is the inspiration for her latest cabaret act “The Streisand Songbook” (Ann is also an out lesbian, who gave me the honor of being the journalist to do her “coming out interview” – you can read that here).
La Streisand influenced La Callaway long before Barbra sang Ann’s songs – Funny Girl exerted a strong influence on the young singer (long before she was a songwriter). Some of the most powerful – and powerfully sung – moments in Callaway’s show are from Funny Girl, including a rafter-shaking “Don’t Rain On My Parade”, and “People” artfully mixed with one of Sondheim’s greatest (I won’t give it away, the surprising combination is one of this show’s greatest pleasures).
Ann remarks that Barbra was one of two great influences on her – the other was Ella Fitzgerald. So it’s completely natural that the feel of this show should be Barbra’s beltiness mixed with Ella’s sumptuous jazziness. Indeed, Ann’s interpretation of the song that Barbra co-wrote with Paul Williams, “Evergreen”, is the jazziest take I’ve ever heard of that particular song.
Other high points include Ann’s renditions of the songs she wrote for Barbra “At the Same Time” and “I’ve Dreamed of You” – dare I say it, Ann’s heartfelt interpretation of “I’ve Dreamed of You”, dedicated to her fiancee Kari Strand, was even stronger than Barbra’s recording (though who knows what Barbra might do with it if she sings it on October 11).
Callaway successfully covers all five decades of Streisand’s multi-faceted career, crafting a loving musical portrait of a brilliant, conflicted artist driven to seek pop music perfection. Callaway herself achieves a kind of jazz-pop perfection, a kissing cousin of Streisand’s, and every bit as shimmery and rich.
For tickets, click here.
For more reviews and interviews by Jonathan Warman, see dramaqueennyc.com.