Meet Liz Caplan, the Vocal Coach Behind the Tony Award-Winning Stars of Hedwig, Aladdin and Les Miz

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and Michael Gioia
09 Jun 2014

Liz Caplan
Liz Caplan
Photo by Matthew Murphy

Broadway go-to vocal coach and teacher Liz Caplan was among the first industry professionals to take part in Playbill.com's Booking It! feature, which offers in-depth insights, need-to-know tips and essential tricks of the trade. Want to rock like Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig or discover the magic behind the voice of Aladdin's James Monroe Iglehart? Read our interview with Caplan below.

During the June 8 Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall, Harris (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and Iglehart (Aladdin) both took a moment during their acceptance speeches to thank veteran Broadway vocal coach Caplan for keeping them in top vocal health. Caplan's vocal essentials, which help the stars maintain their voices eight performances a week, has also led numerous artists to the podium on Tony Awards night.

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Caplan has been a vocal coach in New York City for over 30 years and lectures around the world. She is the vocal supervisor of the Broadway and touring productions of the Tony-winning musicals Once and The Book of Mormon, as well as American Idiot, Rock of Ages and Jason Robert Brown's 13. She is also the vocal consultant on such productions as Wicked, Motown the Musical, Disney's Aladdin, The Last Goodbye, In the Heights and Next to Normal, as well as the "White House Salute to Burt Bacharach." This season she serves as the vocal supervisor on Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris.

Her students range from Tony Award-winning Broadway actors Nikki M. James (Book of Mormon), Steve Kazee (Once) and Patina Miller (Pippin), to stars of the recording industry, including Sara Bareilles, James Blunt, Natasha Bedingfield, Eric Hutchinson, Empire of the Sun, Lily Allen, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Darkness, among others.



Caplan provided coaching on camera and played piano for Carey Mulligan in the 2011 Steve McQueen film "Shame"; and was vocal coach for the Golden Globe-winning film adaptation of Les Misérables, in support of Amanda Seyfried and others. She is also the vocal coach for Stephen Colbert of the "Colbert Report."

A frequent commentator for CNN and Reuters, her affiliations include The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, The Drama League, and National Association of Teachers of Singing, where she has been a speaker, panelist and workshop facilitator. She is also on the faculty of the Voice Foundation in Philadelphia and is a member of the New York Singing Teachers' Association, as well as a member of the Voice and Speech Therapists Association.

When you find yourself getting sick, or in danger of losing your voice - and still have to audition or perform - what are the best ways to prepare and to take care of your voice?
Caplan: As long as one stays on top of one's immune system (ability to get through typical bugs quickly by maintaining good health), there are many remedies and witchy brews that I recommend to my students for quick health boosts: immediate large doses of Ester-C (the body depletes of this immune support supplement when under the weather) in combination with Zinc, oregano (supplements or oil on tongue), ginger tea, echinacea/goldenseal tea or drops, as well as garlic (nature's antibiotic).

Besides these immune boosting supplements and remedies, one can vocalize slowly and gently in order to get muscles supple. If the sinuses are congested, I have specific vocal exercises that bulldoze through them in order to feel oxygen moving through the sinus passages. This is to ensure the singer does not succumb to using compensatory muscles (which create excess laryngeal pressure) in lieu of nasal resonance.

It's important to keep the sinuses and throat moisturized. I recommend having either Ayr or Ocean Saline mists standing by for sinuses and Entertainer's Secret Throat Relief for the larynx. These sprays (homeopathic and over the counter) will also keep any bacteria from getting deeper into the upper respiratory cavities.

Continued...

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