Ann Hampton Callaway is one of the most powerful singers in cabaret, and she sustains that power throughout her entire new cabaret act, “Songs I Wish I’d Written”. A songwriter herself – best known for writing and singing the theme from the TV hit The Nanny, as well as three songs for Barbra Streisand – Callaway picked only the songs she feels “writer’s envy” for, which makes for a very exciting show indeed. (Ann is also an out lesbian, who gave me the honor of being the journalist to do her “coming out interview” – you can read that here).
Her rendition of “Don’t Rain On My Parade” raises the rafters, as does her gospel-tinged take on “Bridge over Troubled Water”. But she also uses that power for quieter moments, beautifully sustaining notes with breath control that would make an opera singer proud. Of these the most exquisite was Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You”; elegantly accompanying herself on the piano, she takes great care to actually tell the story in that complex song, while also doing full credit to its beautiful melody.
Ann has remarked that Barbra Streisand and Ella Fitzgerald were the two greatest influences on her. So it’s completely natural that she should channel Ella’s sumptuous jazziness throughout the show. The very jazziest moment is her version of Jerome Kern’s “Pick Yourself Up” – completely inspired by Mel Torme’s approach to the song, but taking his classical-inspired scatting to even greater, truly dazzling heights.
Callaway always delivers shimmery, rich jazz-pop perfection, and this show is no exception. Highly recommended.
For tickets, click here.