Signal Hill teacher will make St. Louis cabaret debut

News-DemocratNovember 21, 2013 

When Liz Murphy sings "Sailing," she'll take you along on a childhood outing to Carlyle Lake, sailing with her dad.

A few notes into "Children Will Listen," you'll be sitting with the students in her Signal Hill classroom -- her favorite place to be.

Those are just two of the stops on a musical tour of her life Liz will lead when she makes her solo cabaret debut, "The Best is Yet to Come," on Friday and Saturday at Kranzberg Arts Center in St. Louis.

"It's an intimate setting with about sixty or seventy seats, so I can really connect with the audience," she said. "I do some patter, which introduces different concepts in life, then a song to tell the story."

Liz wants to share the incredible opportunities in her life, the people who have influenced her and the joy of newfound possibilities.

"In the past year and a half, I've made a lot of healthy life choices (including losing nearly 100 pounds, exercising and eating healthier)."

Is she nervous about such a personal performance?

"I'm terrified!," she blurted out. "No, really it's very exciting. But it helps that I'm used to doing musical theater.

"I'm playing a part that's not me. In cabaret, your revealing something about yourself. Sharing yourself with others. But it's the songs that let you express a deeper meaning."

Liz, 44, is an accomplished singer who has performed in Powell Symphony Hall and The Muny, with the Communty Gospel Choir in St. Louis for the last seven years, and with several metro-east community theater groups.

But her favorite role is teaching grammar and literature to students in grades 6-8 at Signal Hill School.

"In the show, I talk about my students," she said. "I love what I do. People always talk about how teachers make an impact on students, but sometimes its about how students affect the teacher. My students really inspire me."

Does she ever sing to her students?

"I do. They tease me that sometimes a word comes up and I can go off in a song."

She laughed.

"Although, sometimes, I think they get me to sing as a distraction from the lesson."

One song she selected for her show is "Children Will Listen" from "Into the Woods" by Stephen Sondheim.

"It talks about how kids are smart, and you have to be careful what you say and do around them. That's a lesson I've learned."

"'Sailing' by Christopher Cross is another one of my connection songs," Liz said. "My dad (the late Dr. Michael Muphy) was a doctor. He was very busy. When we'd have a chance to get away on a weekend, we'd spend it sailing at Carlyle Lake ... wonderful memories."

Liz will perform songs from Cy Coleman to Carole King, Stephen Schwarz to Martina McBride, just to name a few.

For the last six years, she has been attending workshops and classes to learn the ins and outs of cabaret.

Two people she credits for helping to develop this show are New Yorkers Rick Jensen, her musical director, and Lina Koutrakes, her director.

"They both teach cabaret classes that I've attended. They help me put together a really good, cohesive show. They taught me things like 'You can't have all ballads.' So I don't. There's a variety."

How does she descibe her voice?

"My voice has many personalities," Liz said. "I sing in a gospel choir, I do classical and community theater. ... I'd say my voice has a rich quality and is very flexible."

She hopes the audience finds the cabaret show uplifting.

"I want the audience to feel they are in a place where I am. That they can experience things in a new way," she said. "I have a new energy and enthusiasm for life. I hope they are inspired by that and can take a little piece of that home with them."

At a glance

What: "The Best is Yet to Come" cabaret performance

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis

Tickets: $20 at brownpapertickets.com

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