Callaway’s gilded career comes from a number of talents, but this weekends performance, called DIVA POWER, aims to hone in on her most unique and noteworthy talent – her improvisation.
“I’ve always had the sort of mind that was created for improv,” she said, describing the skill as part of the jazz tradition, something she’s always tried to adhere to. Her early years in dirty piano bars also helped, where “people were drinking and doing drugs and all kinds of stuff like that.”
She said the audience was often less than receptive to her performance at first, but as she built up her improv skills, she managed to capture their ears over the roar of the room.
“I could turn everything around me into theatre and people would just stop in their tracks,” she said. “It was so compelling, people actually became quite even though it wasn’t a kind of listening room.”
She’s come a long way since those piano bars, writing and performing for the likes Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Patti LuPone, and many many more.
This behind the scenes work can sometimes keep her out of the limelight, but she’s confident even if you don’t know her name, you’ll recognize her work, like the theme song to the 90′s sitcom The Nanny.
Diva Power will be a one-woman show performance featuring Callaway live at the piano, taking suggestions from the audience as well as singings some of her favorites from the Great American Song book stretching back from the 30′s to today.
“It’s a nice mix of living legends and legends of the past,” she said. “Everyone will find the Diva within themselves, which means finding your power, your uniqueness and your fearlessness.”
She’s even got a few things planned specifically for her Richmond performance, with famous Virginian singers likes Ella Fitzgerald and Keely Smith on the playlist. Bringing in local flavors through a city or state’s performance history is part of her routine. She said it helps her better get to know the places she visit.
“I like to get to know a city and probably the Diva song will have something to do with Richmond,” she said. “Romance in Richmond… I will get to know Richmond by writing these improvs. We’re gonna have a lot of fun.”
Expect a truly unique, one-of-a-kind performance when Ann Hampton Callaway takes the Dominion Arts Center stage this weekend, April 8 at 7:30 P.M. and April 9 at 8:00 P.M.. You can pick up tickets here!