Like many West End and Broadway performers, the last time Liz Callaway sung for the public was in March, so it seemed apropos that her opening number on this week’s edition of The Seth Concert Series was the Sunset Boulevard classic ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’. Callaway took on the role of Norma Desmond is Pittsburgh eight years ago, but it is her relationship with Stephen Sondheim’s work that cemented her place as a Broadway star.
Liz grew up with her sister Ann Hampton Callaway in Chicago, before the pair moved to New York. An open call for Merrily We Roll Along led to her first ever role in the chorus, and the song ‘Like It Was’ featured in the concert. Ultimately, despite being directed by Hal Prince, the show was panned by critics and closed after two weeks. Callaway says that it was “the show that keeps on giving” and eventually landed her a role in Follies, but as is always the case with The Seth Concert Series, there’s much more of a story to the start of Liz’s career and Rudetsky explored it all through intimate conversation.
That short stint in Merrily We Roll Along introduced Callaway to David Shire and Richard Maltby Jr. who were developing a new musical, Baby, and ended up in the role of Lizzie Fields which would earn her a Tony Award nomination. Callaway performed two numbers from this musical, ‘The Story Goes On’ which she would have closed the first act with, and ‘What Could Be Better?’ ably assisted by Seth Rudetsky for the purposes of the concert.
Liz spoke extensively about her style of singing, “I’m very careful about belting” she said, preferring to ‘mix’, a technique now taught at certain drama schools. While this unmistakable style was evident throughout the concert, it was perhaps most noticeable in ‘Meadowlark’ from Bakers Wife, a song that Callaway used to sing as a waitress and says she’ll never stop singing.
But it wasn’t all Broadway hits in this Seth concert, Callaway once starred in an off-Broadway musical, Brownstone, and performed a beautiful rendition of ‘Since You Stayed Here’ from that musical, Callaway was also the voice of many Disney characters, including Anastasia, so ‘Once Upon a December’ featured. It was soon back to the Great White Way though, after all Callaway originated the role of Ellen in Miss Saigon on Broadway, so we were treated to a wonderful performance of ‘Now That I’ve Seen Her.’
Callaway also performed songs from Godspell, Tell Me On Sunday and more, as well as talking candidly about her career, making it another fantastically revealing account of the life of a Broadway star.
Liz Callaway’s concert with Seth Rudetsky is available as an on demand event for two weeks here.
Upcoming episodes of The Seth Concert Series will feature Stephanie J. Block and Rachel Bay Jones. Tickets are on sale here.