I had so much fun getting to "Journey to the Past" with Tony nominee & Emmy Award winning actress Liz Callaway. We discuss her upcoming concert at Feinstein's/54 Below, The Beat Goes On, delving into one of Liz's favorite decades of music.
As an added bonus, not only did we get to do this video interview, but a few weeks ago, Liz & I got to talk on the phone about this show. Below the video interview is a further discussion about The Beat Goes On, which includes learning about Liz through some of the songs she'll be performing in this concert plus an exclusive story about Liz's time in Cats as "Grizabella" that she has never revealed in previous interviews.
The Beat Goes On, features pop hits of the era, music from Broadway and the movies, plus songs from her iconic album of the same name. The Beat Goes On will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) from July 25, 28-29 & September 10. Click here for tickets!
Call Me Adam & Liz Callaway Video Interview:
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I think my story is very typical of actors who gravitate towards theatre for that family feeling in some ways. As a kid, I was really shy about singing, so I didn't begin peforming until high school. During my sophomore year, my parents got divorced and I know being in the chorus of the show I was in, at that time, is what saved me because I suddenly had friends and sense of community. I thought, "Oh, if I'm a performer, I can have that feeling," so that's what got me going.
2. This July you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with your new show The Beat Goes On. What are you looking forward to most about performing this show? I love the music of the ‘60s, and I’m so looking forward to sharing my favorite songs (with my own special spin)) with the great Feinstein’s/54 Below audiences.
3. In this concert, you are performing songs from the 1960s. What is it about the music of that time, that made you want to present an evening of music from that decade? This is the music that I grew up listening to; the soundtrack of my childhood, and I’ve always had an affinity for it. So much so that in 2001 I recorded an album of my favorite songs of the ‘60s called The Beat Goes On.
A couple of months ago I was having coffee while reading the newspaper and it occurred to me that everything going on in the world right now, and our reaction to it, is very similar to what was happening in the '60s, at least of what I remember of it. There's lots of new activism. Lots of country coming together/being divided. I thought it would be a good time to revisit some of these songs because I think my song choices or interpretations of some of these songs might be a little different now considering the state of the world. Plus, there's something really fun about singing '60s music in the summer as an escape.
4. What do you think will surprise fans about this show? I hope people will say "I never really heard those lyrics before, until tonight."
5a. Since this show is titled The Beat Goes On, I'm going to divide this question into two parts. First, When you have to perform and you are feeling down or low energy, how do find the strength so "The Beat Goes On"? Strong coffee (laughs). Seriously, that's never a problem. I get a burst of adrenaline when I sing for an audience because my audience inspires me. They always lift me up.
5b. Secondly, you have been performing in this business for over 30 years. How does Liz Callaway keep things fresh to allow "The Beat To Go On"? I think singing is story-telling. I always look to tell the story and there are so many different ways to do that. I look at my songs, write out all my lyrics in prose form and then I look at what story I'm telling and take it from there. Plus, I'm always looking for new challenges, particularly now, I'm more inspired to take them than say five years ago.
6. In addition to the pop hits of the 1960s & tunes from Broadway and film, you will be doing a few selections from your album The Beat Goes On, which is actually many of these songs I describe. For the next few questions, we're going to play with the titles of some of my favorites from that album. On The Beat Goes On, you sing the John Lennon/Paul McCartney song "When I'm Sixty-Four." What do you think your life will look when you are 64? I hope I'm doing what I'm doing now as well as appearing on Broadway.
7. You also sing Brian Wilson, Tony Asher, and Mike Love's "Wouldn't It Be Nice." Finish this sentence, "Wouldn't It Be Nice if...." Do you remember that episode of Dallas when "Pam" (Victoria Principal) wakes up from her dream and finds "Bobby" (Patrick Duffy) alive in the shower and we learn he didn't die? So, I say, "Wouldn't it be nice if who our President is and all that is happening in our country right now could just be a dream."
8. Finally, there's Tony Hatch's "Downtown." What are some of your favorite things to do both in downtown NYC and uptown? I love Chelsea Market, the market at Union Square, Central Park. I just love to walk around the city and find a great coffee bar. I'm always checking out what the new coffee place in town is to try, which also ties in to helping me when I'm tired (laughs). I love NY and it's a great place to discover things on foot.
9. I have to switch gears for a second & ask you about your time in Cats as "Grizabella." What is one story about your time in Cats as "Grizabella" that you have not told in a previous interview? Gosh, now that's tough! Here's one I don't think I've told. I remember coming downstairs for the bows and as I was waiting in the wings, and suddenly I heard my entrance music to come on to sing "Memory" and I realized the show wasn't over yet. In my head, I was like "Oh. My. God." (laughs).
10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? That's a great question and such a good thing you are doing. I love the idea of doing just a little bit every day because then you find, over time, that you actually made a lot of progress.
There's a lot of things I'd like to improve. I'd like to be more physically active every day. I'm a big tennis player, but because of my schedule and different things going on, I don't play like I used to. I think it's so important to be physically active in addition to eating healthily. I'd like to be more active as well as more still & quiet to balance things out. When you're quiet that's when you can be creative & get your ideas. I'm also trying to be less tethered to being online & on my phone.
Preview of Liz Callaway singing "Leaving On A Jet Plane" from her upcoming show The Beat Goes On at Feinstein's/54 Below July 25-29 & September 10 all at 7pm:
Liz Callaway is a Tony nominee and Emmy Award-winning actress, singer and recording artist. She made her Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Baby, and for five years, won acclaim as "Grizabella" in Cats. She has also starred in the original casts of Miss Saigon, The Three Musketeers, and The Look of Love. In addition, Liz has established a major career as a concert and recording artist.
Off-Broadway she received a Drama Desk nomination for her performance in The Spitfire Grill (Playwrights Horizons), and also appeared in Brownstone (Roundabout), No Way to Treat a Lady, Marry Me a Little, and Godspell. Other New York appearances include the legendary Follies in Concert at Lincoln Center, A Stephen Sondheim Evening, Fiorello! (Encores!), and Hair in Concert. Regionally, she starred as Venus in the Chicago Ovations! production of One Touch of Venus, in Elegies at Reprise! in Los Angeles, and Fascinating Rhythm at Hartford Stage. She also played "Norma Desmond" in Sunset Boulevard at Pittsburgh CLO.
Liz sang the Academy Award nominated song "Journey to the Past" in the animated feature Anastasia and is also the singing voice of "Princess Jasmine" in Disney’s Aladdin and the King of Thieves and The Return of Jafar. Other film work includes the singing voice of the title character in The Swan Princess, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, Beauty and the Beast, Lyle, Lyle the Crocodile and The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars.
She received an Emmy Award for hosting Ready to Go, a daily, live children’s program on CBS in Boston. Other TV credits include In Performance at the White House, Inside the Actor’s Studio: Stephen Sondheim, Christmas with the Boston Pops, The David Letterman Show, and Senior Trip (CBS Movie of the Week).
Liz has released six solo recordings: Passage of Time, The Beat Goes On, The Story Goes On: Liz Callaway On and Off-Broadway, Anywhere I Wander: Liz Callaway Sings Frank Loesser, Merry and Bright and her newest album The Essential Liz Callaway. Her numerous other recordings include Sibling Revelry, Boom! Live at Birdland, The Maury Yeston Songbook, Dreaming Wide Awake: The Music of Scott Alan, A Stephen Sondheim Evening, Hair in Concert, the original cast album of A Christmas Story and the complete recording of Allegro produced by the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization.