“If I’m not doing something that terrifies me, it’s not worth it.” Whether it’s headlining her first solo cabaret in New York City, crushing every conceivable fitness goal, baking a perfect batch of cranberry-white chocolate biscotti, or being the foremost authority of true crime podcasts, Liz Cracchiolo lives and breathes this mantra.
Never one to take a conventional path, singer/actor/blogger/coach Liz Cracchiolo has relished challenges. She points to her acclaimed 2021 portrayal of Diana Goodman in Next to Normal as the (current) high point of her musical theatre career and how it exemplifies her ability to meet any obstacle head on. The show solidified her bond with her newfound vocal coach, Broadway star Ellyn Marsh. It challenged her vocally, technically, physically, and mentally. It engrained in her a sense of responsibility to be true to the subject matter and to deliver an honest performance. It bonded her to her fellow actors in a way that no other show had done. And, it terrified her.
Liz grew up in southern Arizona, the youngest of five children in a family that appreciated music, but did not actively produce it. Thanks to her parents and siblings, she was introduced to a range of styles and artists, including Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, and more. Liz came by her fierce attitude naturally, though –– family lore has it that her mother, Pat, once caused a famous mob boss to hide in a closet rather than risk running into her. Pat was always one to speak her mind, and it was a trait Liz gladly inherited.
Performing was always of interest to Liz, and her parents supported her by signing her up for dance classes and securing voice lessons. The hard work culminated in her senior year of high school when Liz secured the starring role of Miss Adelaide in Guys & Dolls, a role she had coveted since childhood.
College presented more of a challenge. The practical side of Liz reasoned that a business degree was the way to go, but she couldn’t let go of her musical theatre ambitions. Through a fateful series of events, she found herself in a freshman musical theatre class designed for majors –– even though she hadn’t auditioned into the program. Intrigued by her story, the professor gave Liz 24 hours to pull together a song and earn her spot. In a break from tradition, she chose a song written for a male character (a taboo at the time, but a highlight of things to come), impressed her professor, and took her rightful place in the program. She eventually earned her BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Arizona.
Liz stepped away from the stage for a bit after graduation, listening to her practical side and forging a successful financial planning career, but was lured back to the grind at the encouragement of mentor and vocal coach Monte Ralstin. Since stepping back in the spotlight in Arizona Onstage Productions’ Ruthless, Liz has tackled stage roles ranging from Georgie in The Full Monty, Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables, Ulla in The Producers, and Donna in Mamma Mia! to Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, for which she won a Best Supporting Actor in a Musical award. She has also created and headlined a number of full-scale concert productions, including: Classics Rock; The Peggy Lee Songbook; Broadway, Baby!, and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
When 2020 forced everyone to slow down, Liz kept her momentum going by discovering two new passions: Peloton fitness and true crime podcasts. Already devoted to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, the Peloton gave her a much-needed lifeline to others, while giving her time to listen to the aforementioned podcasts. Patrick Hinds, the host of True Crime Obsessed, began another podcast entitled Obsessed with Disappeared. His co-host was his best friend, Ellyn Marsh, with whom Liz felt an immediate bond. Thanks to some intensely-focused internet research, Liz found out that Ellyn offered vocal lessons and scheduled an introduction. The two clicked, and Liz quickly found that Ellyn challenged her to rethink her entire approach to singing, a challenge that Liz readily accepted because of the fear of the unknown and the prospect of doing something that she didn’t think she could.
After the success of their first project (Next to Normal), Ellyn pressed Liz to dream of what could come next, saying “You’ve already done the hardest musical you’ll ever do in your life… there’s nowhere to go but down.” From that conversation, Liz’s New York cabaret debut show, If Only I Were Taller, was born. Taller centers around loving and accepting one’s self, even though it’s easier to blend in with the crowd. The collection of songs weaved throughout demonstrates Liz’s vocal range and ability to wring nuance from the simplest lyric. The show also widened her sphere, pairing her with in-demand musical director Drew Wutke. Its February 2022 New York debut performance at The Duplex was a sell-out, and she repeated the success in August 2022 with another standing-room only performance in Tucson’s Century Room. Currently in development is a new cabaret show, titled “I Do Men,” in which Liz reimagines songs traditionally associated with the male voice or made famous by male singers.
The thought of what’s next has also opened doors to expanding Liz’s online presence. She maintains nuhvuh, a lifestyle and inspiration blog that covers everything from music and wellness to fitness and guinea pigs. She is also a masterful party planner and chef (more inherited traits from her mom), and is always the first in her friend group to send out Christmas cards. Performance-wise, she is beginning to make herself available for limited private and corporate performances.
The one thing that doesn’t terrify Liz is her family. Her husband, Alex –– a CPA and fine actor in his own right –– and her two children, Bella and A.J, are her guiding lights and biggest fans. The family loves to travel and has the goal of visiting all major league baseball stadiums.