Sister Act: Sibling Revelry lands down under
Ann Hampton Callaway and sister Liz Calaway bring their acclaimed production of Sibling Revelry to Sydney.
“Music was like air. It was like breathing. I thought everybody in the world loved music the way our family did and I didn't realise we were unique,” said jazz singer Ann Hampton Calloway, who lands down under this month to present Sibling Revelry alongside her sister, Broadway star Liz Callaway.“I thought everyone’s mother’s sang at the piano and everyone’s father’s walked around singing scat. It was just a part of life. It was essential.”
The way Callaway remembers it, her whole family was musical, so a career in the music biz should have been a foregone conclusion. Not so… “It was foregone that music would be a part of my life creatively,” she told GNN. “But I love acting and painting and poetry and song writing – so I might start a conversation in one medium and it would move to another. Nowadays though the joy I get from music just grows and grows.”
Despite both having successful careers in the music business, it wasn't until cabaret producer Don Smith suggested the pair perform together that Callaway and her sister Liz decided to do a show. Their first performance was at New York’s infamous Russian Tea Room. The show sold out and people like Liza Minelli showed up and were weeping with joy in the front row.
The sisters then decided to spread their wings further and developed a full-scale production, Sibling Revelry, which debuted at The Rainbow and Stars Club in New York. That was in 1995 and the show is still going strong and has become something of a gay right of passage. “There’s a saying in New York that you don't get your gay card unless you know Sibling Revelry by heart,” laughs Callaway.
“We did the show in August last year and we thought - oh my god, no-one is gong to come to a show in New York in August – but we packed the house – you couldn't breathe. People in the audience were mouthing the words and weeping and cheering. It was really interesting to see how the show took on a deeper resonance and the songs and stories became even more meaningful with time.”
Callaway believes part of the production’s enduring appeal lies in the relationship she shares with her sister, which is intimately revealed within the patter and songs of Sibling Revelry. “A lot of time people come up after the show and they’re like, ‘I’m going to call my sister’… I love that it has that kind of effect – helping people to reconnect.”
Sibling Revelry will play for one night only at The Basement on June 23.