Feature: Liz Cracchiolo Performs One-Woman Cabaret at NYC's The Duplex

Local standout artist collaborates with vocal coach and Broadway performer Ellyn Marsh.

Review: A SOLDIERS PLAY at ASU Gammage

For Liz Cracchiolo, this is the year to up her game and flex her creative muscles. A longtime fixture in the local theater and music scene, Tucson's consummate chanteuse is taking her act to New York City with a distinct upgrade in brand.

While the concept piques our interest, the title is a genuine novelty: IF ONLY I WERE TALLER. It's a one-woman cabaret whose motif draws from an apt musical collection and a lifetime of humorous anecdotes about being the self-aware, "shortest one in the room."

A public acknowledgement of one's idiosyncrasies is no fun for the risk-averse, but it also elicits the empathetic ear and evokes a sense of empowerment. Cracchiolo is obviously at the point of maturity where bygone perceptions of inadequacy have become an unlikely asset. Hence the self-deprecating headline.

The show will play at The Duplex on Christopher Street at 7 PM on February 12. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door with a two-drink minimum.

Review: A SOLDIERS PLAY at ASU Gammage

IF ONLY I WERE TALLER is a devised collaboration with director/vocal coach and Broadway performer Ellyn Marsh (Kinky Boots, The Rose Tattoo, Pretty Woman: The Musical). Acclaimed pianist and musical director Drew Wutke leads a distinguished group of New York musicians to anchor Cracchiolo's repertoire.

In a recent lunchtime interview, Cracchiolo was candid in describing the origin of her fortuitous partnership with Marsh and Wutke.

"I found Ellyn because she is on a podcast that I love...I discovered that she taught, so I figured out how to get a hold of her. And she has just been unbelievable."

Liz Cracchiolo was last seen on the stage in a commanding portrayal of Diana Goodman in SAPAC's heartrending production of NEXT TO NORMAL. In preparation for the role, Liz had the indispensable guidance of Ellyn the vocal coach, without whose help things might have gone awry, considering the emotional weight of the show and the onerous nature of the role.

"She is so specific about mapping things out, vocally, so you have absolutely no question about what choices you're gonna make, in every moment, in every single song. We had that all solidified before I even got to intention. It was such muscle memory that I never had the time to think about the vocals.'"

Review: A SOLDIERS PLAY at ASU Gammage

An extended run of NEXT TO NORMAL would have pleased Liz Cracchiolo to no end. Fortunately, she wasn't left moping idly as Ellyn Marsh had the perfect tonic to the aftermath of such an emotional journey.

"After the show was over, she said, 'So what do you want to do now when you literally just did the hardest thing any woman and actress is ever gonna do? You have no way to go but down.' So I said this is something I've always wanted to try; I really want to do a cabaret in New York. And she said, 'Oh, okay. It's done.'"

Plans got underway and after a bit of research, The Duplex was booked and Ellyn hooked Liz up with Drew Wutke, whose musical résumé precedes him. Though Liz has several cabarets under her belt, this one speaks volumes in terms of organization and style, not to mention the additional challenge of collaborating virtually. She did go to New York City for a weekend rehearsal and continues to shape the show from her Tucson home.

The most telling aspect of the collaboration, besides Ellyn Marsh's big-city clout, is her own personal input in facilitating Liz's human impact. While forty percent of the material should be songs Liz is familiar with (the rest being new material), the real focus ought to be the kind of story Liz wants to tell.

So, besides the undoubtedly gorgeous sound we expect from the show, what can we glean from the story of Liz Cracchiolo?

"It's called IF ONLY I WERE TALLER because it's about how you're born and you accept who you are, and then at some point you start to doubt it, and you try to be like everybody else. And then you just don't care and you find your way back. That's what it's about. It's a journey."

Photo Credit: Maria Alburtus-Gawne

Tickets and information are available here or www.theduplex.com

For more information about Liz, visit www.lizcracchiolo.com


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