‘Once’ Again

There is something that happens in theater, and almost nowhere else. It’s rare, and when it happens, it is magical; it is the alchemy of sitting in a theater seat and being completely transported into another realm. We were lucky enough to have this happen to us when we went to the New York Theater Workshop to see their production of ‘Once’, the new musical based on the truly lovely gem of a movie that came out in 2006 about street musicians in Ireland. We hadn’t been sure about it – could the larger scale of the stage capture the delicate emotional detail of the film? – but the show convinced us. Yes, the stage could capture all the heart of the movie, and even more.

That run downtown ended, alas. But luckily for us, and luckily for you, ‘Once’ is moving to Broadway. They started previews this week, with the same stellar cast they had downtown, and with our own Liz Caplan as the vocal supervisor. So we admit, we’re a little biased, but even if we weren’t, we’d say go, immediately. You will cry, you will love, you will remember how magical theater can be. And if that doesn’t convince you, just watch this TV spot:

Or check out this video of one of the songs in the show, performed by the talented (and hunkalicious) Steve Kazee:


Or, just gaze at their amazing and talented cast:


via Vogue.com

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Rest In Peace, Whitney Houston

We here at the studio love the sound of a voice in song. It’s what we listen to every day, what we help people find in themselves, what we adore. And we love that there is such an infinite variety in the types of voices out there, beautiful in so many different ways.

Sometimes, though, a voice comes around that is so special, it sounds like it truly has been given from some other realm. Whitney Houston had such a voice. Burnished and beautiful, it soared, and listening to it you felt like you had a direct pipeline to her heart. Whitney Houston was a talent for the ages, and we here at the studio mourn her tragic loss and send our thoughts to her family. We will always love you, Whitney.

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Merrily We Roll Along… to Broadway Awesome.

There are many fine things you can say about the world of Broadway – you can talk for decades about the shows alone (trust us, we pretty much have), and for another few decades about the business of it. But one thing we feel it’s important to remind people about the world of Broadway is just this: Broadway people are awesome.

No, seriously, it’s a good bunch. we’re pretty sure that nobody will ever do this study (and nor should they, really – I mean, come on, work on curing cancer first), but if you were to do a survey of the industries whose people were the most fun to hang out with, we think theater people would come out on top. I mean, think about it – they’re talented, they’re full of interesting info because they absorb huge amounts of peculiar information for each new show they work on, they bond with their fellows easily and often they keep odd hours, and they will definitely, definitely, kill at karaoke, every single time. In short, Broadway people: fun.

If you don’t believe me, then just do a little google search for one of the awesomest people in an industry full of awesome: Lin-Manuel Miranda. He exploded onto the scene as a creator (and star) of ‘In The Heights’, and ever since he’s been happily filling the industry with happy. Procrastinating from working on a show? He’ll make a funny video about it. Defending a casting decision? He’ll write a rap for it. Getting married? He’ll enlist many of his nearest and dearest to participate in a joyous dance number to celebrate his new bride.

And now, he’ll be starring in the Encores! production of ‘Merrily We Roll Along’, which opens tomorrow. And in this interview with Broadwayworld.com, he talks about his upcoming role and his influences, and about working with his vocal coach, our very own Liz Caplan! So give it a read, and we think you’ll be convinced. Broadway: awesome. Lin-Manuel Miranda: awesomer.

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5 Resolutions You Can Keep

Happy New Year, All!!

Okay, okay, we know, it’s almost the end of the first week of January, so Happy New Years seems as dusty as those leftovers of plum pudding. But we’re here on the fifth for a reason – because only five days into 2012, many of us have probably already given up on our New Year’s Resolutions.

I mean, let’s be honest, resolutions are hard. First of all, chances are good that half your resolutions are direct responses to behavior you’ve been reveling for a solid month, correct? Eat well after a month of christmas cookies, drink less after the booziest month of all, go to the gym after, well, let’s not talk about how long it’s been since we’ve set foot in there – we’ve been busy, right?

We here at Liz Caplan Studios want to suggest some resolutions for the year ahead that are 100% totally keepable. We promise! So let’s dive on in, shall we?

1. Support the arts.
This is probably the easiest resolution ever, because it’s really just fun. Go see a movie (we’re partial to the truly beautiful and deeply moving ‘Shame’, and not only because our own Liz Caplan is in it!), go see a show, go see an opera, go to a museum, go read a book. You’ll be better for it, and the arts will too – they are a vibrant and necessary part of all of our lives, and they all need audiences. So put your money where your heart is (or don’t, there’s lots of good free stuff around too!) and make 2012 the year that you experience as much as you can.

2. Go for a walk.
We know, we all should exercise more. But let’s be honest, sometimes going to the gym is boring and expensive. You know what isn’t? Going for a walk. It’s good for you, and totally free, and you might just find yourself noticing things you never do, like birds or people or the free performance that is New York City all of the time.

3. Find your voice.
We’re especially partial to this here, because Liz Caplan is all about finding your voice. But let’s be honest, if you’re reading this now, you’ve at least sung in your shower pretending that you’re the next American Idol. So why not give yourself the gift of learning how to use that fierce instrument to its best advantage? Liz Caplan Studios released a number of different iPhone apps in the past year, all of which can help you train your voice for less than the cost of a fancy cocktail. So why not treat yourself, and kill at your next karaoke office party? Don’t let your shower tiles be the only things that hear you sing!

4. Go somewhere.
Travel! Get on a plane! Get on a train! Get on a subway! Get on your feet! Go somewhere you’ve never been in 2012, preferably many different places. We’re all citizens of the world, there’s nothing greater than getting to see as much of it as we can.

5. Give yourself a break.
This resolution encompasses all of the others. Most of us work way too hard, and then we are way too hard on ourselves about what we look like, what we do, what we can’t do. It’s vital to give yourself a break every once in a while, both in the sense of taking time to go for a walk or see a movie or sing a little song or learn to breathe, and in the sense of forgiving yourself for whatever shortcomings you think you might have. Because one thing’s for certain in 2012: you’ve got you. And shouldn’t you treat yourself right?

So best wishes for the year ahead – no matter how you choose to spend it, we hope it’s happy and healthy!

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One of Our Very Own in ‘Shame!’

Our very own Liz Caplan is a woman of many talents. We already knew about the skills as a coach and teacher, as well as cheerleader and friend extraordinaire at the top of the list, but now she’s just adding to the pile and breaking out as a pianist and ginormous movie STAH!! Well, okay, not quite, but we are proud to announce that Liz will be appearing in the upcoming film ‘Shame’, directed by Steve McQueen and starring studmuffin Michael Fassbender and genius supertalent Carey Mulligan. Carey Mulligan will be singing in the film, and was coached by Liz. But, more than that, Liz will be appearing in the film as Carey’s accompanist, playing Stephen Oremus’ haunting arrangement of ‘New York, New York’ for a pivotal scene. The movie itself sound fabulous, even without the cameo by a certain Ms. Caplan, but if you want to see a teaser of both the film and the cameo, look no further:

That’s Liz Caplan herself tinkling the ivories, with vocals by Carey Mulligan. And there’s more where that came from (and more of Michael Fassbender’s remarkable abs), so we’ll see you at the theater in December!

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Bring it On, ‘Bring it On’!

Living in New York City, it’s hard to complain about missing theater. We live in probably the biggest theater hub in the world, and so our chances to catch something amazing are much greater than missing it.

However, there are always exceptions. And currently, we here at the studio are a big seething mass of jealousy at the people who currently live in LA, San Francisco, Denver, Houston, Fayetteville, Des Moines, St. Louis, Charlotte, Durham, and Providence.

Why, you ask? Well, because the denizens of those fine cities will get a chance to see the new musical ‘Bring it On’, according to their recently released tour schedule. And so, they will get a chance to see not only the acrobatics of cheering onstage, but also one of our favorite movies adapted by some of our favorite people (Lin Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt, Amanda Green, Jeff Whitty, Alex Lacamoire, Andy Blankenbuehler – I mean, come on. That’s ridiculous.)

So, I mean, whatever, people in those cities. We’ve got other stuff, like, um, really good pizza, and the Empire State building, and a lot of other great shows. We’re totally over it, you guys. You just go see the show, and have a great time, we can be mature about this. And at least we have this preview video to tide us over:

Okay, never mind. We’re going to go cry and look up cheap plane tickets.

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Congratulations, New Yorkers!!

We here at the studio love love. We love hearing singers sing love songs, we swoon over great love stories, we tear up at movies and plays that celebrate it. So we are so thrilled that today is the first day New York State has allowed same-sex marriages, and we send out our heartiest congratulations to the couples who will be married today, the couples who will be married in the future, and all the friends and family members who get to witness two people they love vowing to share their lives together, and to the residents of the state of New York, all of whom are the better for living in a place that embraces love.

Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd (via: The New York Times)

And, our gift to you, one of our favorite poems about marriage, by Kahlil Gibran:

On Marriage
 Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

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Aloe, Aloe!

It’s officially summer, and if you are anything like us, you celebrated this by running outside as soon as you could to drink in the gorgeous rays of the sun. And, if you were like us, you let your normal caution slip under the sheer excitement of feeling the heat on your skin, and as a result, you went from looking like one of those translucent-white deep-sea fish to looking like a cooked lobster. Ouch.

Sun. Burn. It happens every summer, it seems, despite our best attempts to slather on the SPF every morning, like we always intend to. But luckily, this year, we have a secret weapon at the ready to combat our inadvertent Oompa Loompa costume – Aloe vera.

Yes, we know, that’s not a new remedy at all. You can buy it in big tubes at the store for exactly this purpose, what’s the big idea? Well, this year, after worrying about how much aloe vera was actually in those mystery tubes (some of them seem to be a whole lotta chemicals and not a whole lotta aloe), we tried something new – we bought an aloe vera plant.

For about the same price as a tub of the gooey clear stuff, we got a nifty and attractive plant, which is almost impossible to kill (which is a necessity for any plant in our care, alas). And, best of all, when we need to soothe a burn or a scratch, we can just cut off a leaf, cut it open, and put it right on the injury. We know that it’s 100% pure and fresh, and the results speak for themselves – this plant is not messing around (and hasn’t been for a while – Aloe is mentioned as a healing plant on Sumerian tablets from 2200BC, and appears in the bible). Aloe is credited with helping skin heal, both from burns and small injuries, blisters, open wounds, and with conditions such as psoriasis and excema. Plus, when taken internally (you can buy aloe juice in many forms, or simply taking a leaf of your aloe, allowing the yellow sap to drain out (you’ll definitely want to do this – it is stinky), then cutting the leaf open and scraping out all the clear gel, which you can add in a blender to water or juice), it can have incredible benefits to the digestive tract, and help with indigestion and more serious diseases like Crohn’s disease.

The good stuff - Aloe Vera's clear interior gel. Via aloelf.com

So do yourself a favor – next time you pass the crazy green spikes of an aloe plant, buy one. You, your skin, and your stomach will thank you.


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A Week of Amazingness!

Well, what can we say, it’s been a big week here at the studio, and it’s only Tuesday.

First of all, the Tony Awards were on Sunday, as you are all probably well aware. And since we at the studio are all devoted theater people, we approach Tony Sunday with all the fervor that most people reserve for the Superbowl. But this year was extra special – not only was the always-amazing Neil Patrick Harris, studio favorite and studio client, back to host, but two studio clients, Josh Gad and Nikki M. James, were nominated for Tonys for their brilliant performances in ‘The Book of Mormon’. So already we were in seventh heaven just watching them sit in the audience all glammed up and gorgeous, and knowing that the world could now recognized the talent we always knew they had in spades. But then, well, let’s just say they better invent some higher levels of heaven, because our beloved Nikki M. James won for best Featured Actress in a Musical. And as if this wasn’t enough, she gave our very own Liz Caplan a major shout out, as you can see in her charming and moving speech:

Congratulations, Nikki, we love you. And we’re pretty sure your crazy talent level means this isn’t going to be the first time you’re up on that stage holding one of those little medallions.

So, really, what could make this week better? Well, funny you should ask. Another favorite and student of Liz’s, Stephen Colbert, lent his talents to the Tony broadcast, both in an opening number cameo and in a number from the most excellent concert version of ‘Company.’ But as if that weren’t treat enough, we were listening to NPR this morning, only to hear those familiar dulcet tones talking to Terry Gross for the program ‘Fresh Air’. And what did they talk about? Well, quite a lot, as the program is 40 minutes long. But one topic was Stephen Colbert’s path to singing, and his experience with voice lessons, which he was, naturally, incredibly charming and eloquent about (You can listen to the entire interview, which we highly recommend you do, here, but here’s a snippet – “What I rediscovered was the therapeutic nature of singing lessons,” he says. “They’re like doing yoga but for [the] inside of your body. You open up and use muscles that you don’t think of as malleable. … You can turn your head into a bell. … That’s what we kept working on: resonance and projection and relaxation and just remembering or relearning how to breathe through a phrase. The technical aspects of it are fascinating to go through in the lessons. And then you have to forget all of it, and sing.”) And then he gave a shout-out to our very own Liz Caplan.

Martha Plimpton, Stephen Colbert, and Neil Patrick Harris. We love these guys.

Now let me make something clear – Liz truly loves the work she does and the relationships she forms with all of her students. If she had the time and/or self-cloning capabilities, it’s highly likely that she would be at every single performance that any of her students ever does, cheering them on in the stands. Watching them all go forth and sing with lessons she has taught them is a thrill in itself for all of us who work in the studio. But we have to say, hearing Liz get a shout-out from not one but two beloved students in two days; well, that’s just the cherry on top of a cherry jubilee.

So here’s to the rest of the week! Although it’s already set a pretty high bar for itself with the first two days, we have to say!

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The Tonys Have Their King

Opening Season is finally over, and now we have moved directly into the yang to its ying: Awards Season. This is a big year with many, many new shows, many of which are truly excellent and filled with talented people we love (to name them all would take more bandwidth than the internet has available!*). The Tonys, though, are undoubtedly the king of the theatrical awards, and finally, the Tonys have named their king; coming back to host will be Neil Patrick Harris, who hosted with great success in 2009. We at the studio, clearly, love Neil Patrick Harris, so this makes us very, very happy. So congrats, NPH – we’ll be tuning in for sure!


And for good measure (although it has nothing to do with the Tonys):

NPH and his partner, David Burtka. Even more adorabler!

*This is a lie, it would not require all the internet’s bandwidth. We do love a lot of people, though.

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