The couple seated across from me at Feinstein’s/54 Below came to see the star of “Baby” nominated for a Tony Award Best performance for a featured actress. While the song they longed to hear from “Baby” was not in the set, by the end of the evening they were nonetheless pleased.
Liz Calloway portrays a very innocent charm from a bygone era. This is the first performance at Feinstein’s I have seen when a performer has not used profanity. She is a true lady. Calloway won an Emmy for her children’s show “Ready to Go” and is definitely “G” rated. The voice of some popular Disney heroine’s like Anastasia, Jasmine and Kiara, she is very professional, poised and quite good. Innocent smiling baby blue crystal eyes beckon you to sing along. One can’t help but like her as she likes New York.
Calloway explained that she wanted a New York theme for her show. She has been reminiscing lately about the time spent here when she first arrived in the City. She loosely chose songs around the theme. Opening with Who Wants to Live in New York? / I Happen to Like New York (Merrily We Roll Along) byStephen Sondheim/Cole Porter and included challenging vocal pieces such as Meadowlark (from The Baker’s Wife) by Stephen Schwartz.
To include some of her personal favorites, like Something Beautiful written by Lynn Ahrens, Calloway got creative. It is about a tree Ahren’s father captured in a photo. When Calloway found out the tree was in Central Park the song made the cut.
As Calloway warmed up her light angelic voice emerged. She brought the microphone closer to her mouth to increase presence as opposed to belting out certain parts of songs, enabling her to remain even keeled, precise and easy on the ear. She moved about the stage, jumping up to sit on the piano and a bar stool, making the audience feel they were getting a work out as well.
Our walk down memory lane included Calloway recalling her first gig in NYC at the long-gone Applause restaurant at 40thand Lexington. She remembered performing on her 21stbirthday at the King Cole club at the St. Regis and performances with her sister cabaret star Ann Hampton Calloway at Rainbow and Stars. She read a Variety review of her performance at the Duplex, which is the only venue still going strong today. In the review the critic asked “Who didn’t design her dress?” Calloway can laugh decades later and graciously acknowledges the applause stating, “They didn’t clap like that at the Duplex.”
Calloway quotes from Ahren’s lyrics as she addresses the audience “I may be old, but I still grow. I was put here to make something beautiful before I go.” I was urged to go see the show, you will enjoy the music, it’s a nostalgic heartwarming musical night out – and it was!
Get out and support Pride month. All the staff have rainbow suspenders or bow ties for the month.
Liz Halloway “Sets and the City” – Written and performed by Liz Halloway from various works of and about New York City.
WITH: Alex Rybeck (music director/piano), Jared Egan (bass), Ron Tierno (drums), Dan Foster (husband/director).
At Feinstein’s 54 Below Broadway’s Supper Club; 254 West 54th Street Cellar, NYC 10019; www.54Below.com/Feinsteins (646) 476-3551. June 12-15 2019 at 7:00pm venue doors open at 5:00pm. Tickets $50-$115 with $25 table per person food and beverage minimum. Run time: 1 hours 20 minutes.