SIBLING REVELRY – Hippodrome Casino, London.
19 years ago, two sisters put together a slick two-hour show which would showcase their contrasting singing voices, and contain a lot of their (and their friends’) favourite songs. In 1996, their show, Sibling Revelry, was a big hit at the Divas at the Donmar season in London. But it was a big hit in the USA too, and has proved to be much more enduring than the light-hearted entertainment that they had originally planned.
Sibling Revelry – there’s a running joke about the sisters being deadly rivals in the music business – feels like a sophisticated show and will be a big night out for anyone who likes Broadway classics or the great American songbook. Performed by Ann Hampton Callaway and her sister Liz Callaway, both Tony Award nominees, the sisters have contrasting voices. Ann is strongly blues and jazz oriented while Liz is the classic Broadway ingénue. They sing solo, matching their material to their individual strengths, but they sing duets too, in which their different styles set up some wonderful harmonies.
Their backing band consists of drums (Colin McCann), bass (Rob Hutchinson) and they have a travelling music director (Alex Ryback) who plays piano. The production values here are absolutely first class, and after all those years since its first inception, it is no surprise to find that everything is meticulously planned and executed.
The Hippodrome Casino is a wonderfully evocative venue. To get to the performance space, you wander through a hall of gaming tables and up to the first floor. Inside, the atmosphere is most definitely ‘jazz club’ – dark brown decor, low hanging lights over tables, cocktails being carried to dark corners. The scene is perfect for this supremely professional show, and there were still some in the audience who remember those 1996 performances.
I particularly liked Ann’s smokey blues timbre, though there will be those, I’m sure, who as fans of the big Broadway ballad, will prefer Liz’s big, more straightforward sound, exemplified perhaps by the fact that she spent five years singing Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats on Broadway. Though everything they do is supremely competent, each has their big solo in the second half. Ann taking on ‘Blues in the Night’, while Liz really shows her all-round vocal skills in getting on top of Lauren Mayer’s take on Stephen Sondheim, ‘Another Hundred Lyrics’.
Their closer is called ‘Huge Medley’, and is just that, blending together songs like ‘Sisters’, ‘A Boy Like That’, and climaxing with an all too brief section of Donna Summer’s disco hit ‘Enough is Enough’. By the end, the crowd were on their feet.
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By Michael Spring
7 -11 July 2015
Hippodrome Casino, London, WC2