I will be the first to admit that when it comes to music theatre and cabaret, I am easily delighted and pleased to gush when it comes to a great night in a performance space.
Even so, there are some occasions that defy the common superlative and require more a hush of awe.
As anyone who had the good fortune to be at The Basement in Sydney on Wednesday night (16 January) can capably attest, Liz Callaway created just such an occasion.
The Broadway legend took to the stage before a star-studded crowd that was clearly ready and willing to be impressed and proceeded to raise the bar with every single song. For an actress making her debut in a different country on an unknown stage on a sweltering night (The Basement seriously needs to invest in some air conditioning!) she had such an air of casual elegance and self-possession that it truly was impossible not to feel safe in her hands.
With a set-list that ran the gamut, there was not a single song less than perfectly conceived or delivered. Through standard, showstopper, torch ballad and sixties pop hit, her delight was infectious – and her voice, genuinely extraordinary! The fourth song of the night was Stephen Schwartz’s infamous showstopper ‘Meadowlark’ – and with absolute self-assurance, subtlety and showmanship in equal measure, and, with a flawless instinct, Liz Callaway constructed the song before our eyes and delivered what can only be called the perfect live rendition of that song.“It is so seldom that such a flawless performance is delivered with such effortless charm“
And so it was with so many songs. There was not a single moment when every eye was not on Liz Callaway and rightly so. It is so seldom that such a flawless performance is delivered with such effortless charm. Through multiple breaks for applause, two standing ovations and wildly received encores there were many calls for the star to return to the stage, and, to Sydney.
The evening as a whole was a triumph from beginning to end – and a genuine coup for producer David Hawkins. We can only hope that Liz Callaway does return to Oz for future performances. With memories of Wednesday night strong amongst a large and passionate audience it can only be assumed that any following performances would be a smash. In the meantime, that lucky crowd has the distinction of being able to say I was there when Liz Callaway played the Basement.