On 24th May 2021 Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway performed The Callaway Sisters: Side by Side their first concert together since lockdown began. The Tony nominated sisters performed a cabaret of songs, some written or arranged by Ann such as, ‘Here Come the Callaways,’ and other songs including broadway tunes and popular ballads. The songs were performed as both duets and solos, with the sisters’ friendly and funny commentary in between. A highlight has to be the sister’s medley of songs called, ‘Sisters.’ The medley consisted of the songs fans sent in as suggestions for the online concert. The concert was hosted on zoom by Nich Anderson. Some songs had live piano accompaniment from Ann, and others featured piano tracks by Alex Rybeck.
The simplicity of the performance, Ann playing the acoustic piano with the camera angled to just capture the two of them in Ann’s sitting room, allowed a focus on the songs themselves, that were carefully picked to capture their coming together after so long. The theme of reuniting after separation caused by lockdown was a theme that everyone can relate to and appreciate. A zoom audience was present throughout the stream, not seen but heard, creating the cabaret atmosphere and another level of connection and interaction.
As the concert progressed, the audience could put together a picture of the two sisters, and how their careers and lives have developed, enabling the audience to connect with them. Keeping it real, Ann and Liz would even stop midway through songs if they made a mistake with the lyrics and turn into a point of humour and interest for the audience. This was a performance intended simply to entertain. The audience couldn’t help but feel good at the heartwarming aspect of the sisters singing together and being in the same room after a 14 month separation. Ann and Liz’s close bond and on-screen relationship in The Callaway Sisters: Side by Side created a relaxed atmosphere but at the same time was very professional.
The simplicity of the concert did mean that the sound was not of the highest quality. This is one thing that could be improved for a better experience, but also demonstrates the personal and relaxed performance from the sisters, stripping it back and being invited into Ann’s living room.
The Callaway Sisters: Side by Side was a welcome moment of entertainment, and a way to process the separation from loved ones caused by lockdown through song. The concert highlighted the determination of audiences and performers to keep going and to adapt to the restrictions caused by lockdown.