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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s

Cabaret sisters doing it for themselves: Sibling Revelry @HippodromeLDN

It would be fair to say that Ann Hampton Callaway and her sister Liz Callaway raised the roof with their sensational cabaret show at the London Hippodrome. Smart and engaging with some terrific witty banter, it is hard to imagine a better show in London at the moment.

Both are stars of New York’s cabaret scene and have both been Tony Award-nominated for their performances in major Broadway musicals. Music is clearly in their bones having grown up in a musical family. They have had acclaimed careers in their own right but the show is is an opportunity to update the show they performed together back at the Donmar in 1996.

At first glance it is hard to believe they are siblings given their different appearance and style.

Ann Hampton Callaway has a smouldering voice (and sultry looks). But she can also blow the roof off when she sings a number such as Blues In The Night. Watching her perform this number was a cathartic experience.

Contrasting this is her younger sister Liz with her beautifully clear and unforced soprano. This was evident with her performances of the songs  Meadowlark and The Story Goes On. The latter being from the musical Baby in which she originated the role of Lizzie.

But when they appear together their harmonies and their ability to interpret a lyric are simply astounding. But there is a warmth and humour that comes across, even as they compare their respective careers, with a hint of sibling rivalry revelry.

The set list was a thoughtful collection of songs that played to their strengths as soloists and individuals along with marking key points of their respective careers (to date).

There is also an opportunity to point out that Ann is not just a terrific singer but a composer with a performance of the theme song from The Nanny.

Anyone interested in performance should go and see this masterclass in Cabaret.

Directed by Dan Foster, with Alex Rybeck as Music Director and on piano, Colin McCann on drums and Rob Hutchinson on bass.

Sibling Revelry runs only until Saturday at the London Hippodrome.


Photo credits: Darren Bell

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