An Interview With Liz Callaway

Broadway Singer Joins South Florida Symphony For Series of Concerts

Michelle. F. Solomon


Singer Liz Callaway is joining the South Florida Symphony for a series of concerts this week in "An Evening With Liz Callaway: Broadway and Beyond."

Performances are in Fort Lauderdale (Feb. 6), Miami (Feb. 7), Boca Raton (Feb. 8) and Key West (Feb. 10). spoke to Callaway and also South Florida Symphony founder/music director/conductor Sebrina María Alfonso about the four shows in Key West, Miami, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale, an evening of songs celebrating Bernstein’s 100-year anniversary with music from "West Side Story" and "On the Town" as well as songs from "Cabaret," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Carousel," "The Music Man" and more.

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." Callaway sang the Academy Award nominated song “Journey to the Past” in the animated feature "Anastasia." Can you tell us what audiences can expect from the shows you'll be performing with the South Florida Symphony? I know there will be some great Broadway tunes, but what else?


Liz Callaway: Let me first say how much I'm looking forward to working with the South Florida Symphony. (Conductor Sebrina María Alfonso) has been very much wanting me to do the kind of concerts that I like to do. It's been so much fun to plan the program. It's going to appeal to a lot of different ages. When I do concert I like to do a combination of really well known songs and sprinkle a few things that people don't know. I'm going to be performing a combination of Broadway show stoppers -- songs from shows I've done, like "Cats" and "Baby," for which I received a Tony nomination. For a lot of people under the age of 26, they will know me from my animated movie work, especially "Anastasia." I'm also a huge fan of '60s pop music. I'm obsessed with that era of music. I am friends with (composer) Jimmy Webb, so I'll be performing "Up, Up and Away." And I can't do a show without singing "Downtown."

(Listen to Liz sing "Downtown:"


MAZ: Any more surprises?

LC: I have a special guest, Davron Munroe, who will join me for a few duets. He has sung with the symphony before, and next season, he'll perform "Porgy and Bess" with them. It's a chance for the South Florida Symphony audience to get to know him.

MAZ: You haven't been on stage with the South Florida Symphony before, but you have performed in South Florida.

LC: I have performed in Key West many times, and I have only played Miami once and it was years ago. I did a master class at the University of Miami; they have a wonderful musical theater program. I was recently singing with Joshua Henry, and we were doing a Stephen Schwartz duet, at a show. Joshua is going to be starring in "Carousel" on Broadway soon (Henry is a Tony Award® nominee for "Hamilton," "Shuffle Along"; he opens starring in "Carousel" at the end of February.). He told the audience at our concert that I had taught him in a master class. (She laughs.) I've performed in Palm Beach, but some of the venues I'll be joining the South Florida Symphony I haven't been in before. 


MAZ: What does it mean to you to be singing with the South Florida Symphony.

LC: There's nothing that compares to singing with an orchestra. That's Cinderella at the Ball time. The South Florida Symphony is bringing this music to a wide audience, and they want to do this music to keep it alive. Probably, the biggest challenge for orchestras is just getting people to come, but once they come then they have a fan for life. I think this music, Broadway, the Great American Songbook, '60s pop, I can't think a better way to spend an evening than listening to great music like that. Sebrina was all for doing this sort of 'different' kind of program. Trusting that I know audiences. There's nothing like live music. When I do a concert, I always want my audience to l like they had dinner with me. I think I'm going to be a good fit with this orchestra. When you do a show like this, you take the audience on a journey . There's a real art to programming to lead your audience along. It' s not random song, here, random song there. The order is purposeful.

MAZ: What are you working on besides the appearance here?

LC: Well, the music business has changed. Streaming is the way, so, of course I'm interested in singing, but I'm also being an entrepreneur. I'm creating a new show that I hoping to record. I'm going to be releasing a number of singles. I want to be more prolific in my music, record singles, do shows, and do surprises.

I also recently published an article for Lincoln Center about my relationship to lyrics. So, I may be doing more writing. It was inspiring. I did a concert at Carnegie Hall, a Jimmy Webb tribute, and there were all these amazing artists. He gave all of us a pen from Tiffany's that said 'Love, Jimmy.' I like to write longhand, so that's been an inspiration.


South Florida Symphony Founder/Music Director/Conductor Sebrina María Alfonso About Teaming With Callaway


MAZ: Can you talk about having the incomparable Liz Calloway perform with you?

SMA: It is the first time the Symphony has used a Broadway star. We feel as we elevate ourselves in the community, bringing guest artists like Liz Callaway, the Martha Graham Dance Co. and Siudy Flamanco Dance Theater enhances the cultural arts in the community and establishes the SFSO as a major Cultural Arts organization.

MAZ: How does this show differ from what other Symphony's present to audiences?

SMA: It is the first time we reached out to an international star in our Pops Series. This show is part of our Pops Series. It is different in that Liz has her own repertoire from her Broadway shows, voiceovers in movies and recordings. She is well known for the songs she will be singing with the orchestra.

MAZ: It' a big year for you, correct?

SMA: ​ We are thrilled to have our 20th Anniversary bring so many new elements to our season. It has been a great celebration and we look forward to bringing the rest of the season to South Florida with great music and stellar guest artists.


All shows at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 6: Fort Lauderdale: Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Wednesday, Feb. 7: Miami: Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

Thursday, Feb. 8, Boca Raton: Spanish River Worship Center, 2400 Yamato Rd, Boca Raton, FL 33431

Saturday, Feb. 10, Key West: Tennessee Williams Theater, 5901 College Road, Key West.

For more information, Phone: (954) 522-8445

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