BETH ANNE COLE began her performing career at the age of fifteen, singing on CBC Radio and network Television. Throughout her career she has continued to work at CBC, notably in a twenty-two year “guest” stint on “Mr. Dressup”, as a writer and performer on CBC Radio’s “Morningside”, dramatic roles in both radio and television and appearances on “Sesame Street”, for which she also wrote songs.
Early on she became interested in acting and trained at the Stratford Festival in Canada and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) in England. While in England she starred in a seminal run of “The Fantasticks” at the Hampstead Theatre Club, and at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, Surrey. When she returned to Canada she played leading roles at many regional theatres: Neptune Theatre in Halifax, National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Winnipeg’s Rainbow Stage and Factory Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, Tarragon Theatre, Royal Alexandra Theatre, all in Toronto. She also spent four seasons at The Shaw Festival where she played the title role in “Rosemarie”, and Margot in “The Desert Song”, among other roles.
BETH ANNE also established a distinguished career as a concert artist, songwriter and recording artist. She sang at the Shaw Festival, Glenn Gould Theatre in Toronto, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Boston Conservatory, Scottsdale, Arizona and scores of other venues large and small. She recorded two CDs and is at this time working on a third. When she moved to New York in 1997 she continued to perform her original work and created, with the actor Alvin Epstein, a cabaret show entitled “Kurt Weill: Songs Degenerate and Otherwise” to rave reviews. Together they received the” Best cabaret show, New England Critics’ Award” for the Kurt Weill show.
After almost nine years in New York, where she also taught voice and performance (speaking and singing) at Michael Howard Studios, Circle-in – the- Square Theatre School and SUNY Purchase Theatre Conservatory, Beth Anne returned - happily! - to Toronto where she now resides. She has expanded her artistic activities considerably, and is a visual artist as well as a poet and playwright. She continues to write songs, teach and perform.
“To “sing full” is my metaphor for living to one’s fullest potential, and I try to do it as well as teach it!’ – Beth Anne
BETH ANNE COLE has been a voice and speech consultant and teacher for twenty-five years. Voice has been the centre of her life and her fascination (the ancient Greeks called the voice “the sound of the soul”) as both teacher and performer, and her unusual breadth of experience in all of the arts informs and inspires her clients. She teaches business professionals in all walks of life, helping them to achieve clear and compelling speech, confidence, personal power and a sense of authenticity. Beth Anne works one-on-one or with small groups of clients; some feel that their voice is too nasal, too high, too low, too breathy ,not powerful enough or overpowering! Or they may feel held back by not being a native English speaker. Beth Anne provides the tools and the warm encouragement to expand all the vocal potential of her clients. VOICE CLIENTS have included the ballerina Natalia Makarova, the former first lady of New York Donna Hanover, and scores of teachers, lawyers and other professionals. Beth Anne is a member of The Voice and Speech Teachers’ Association (VASTA), The Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs (CAWEE), ACTRA, and the Canadian, American and British ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATIONS. She trained as an actress in England at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and as a voice teacher in Toronto and New York. She attended the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music and is on the faculty of ACT TWO STUDIOS at Ryerson University. She also teaches singing and performance. Beth Anne has performed in theatres in Canada, the U.S. and England. She was a leading player at the Shaw Festival, has written for and performed on ”Sesame Street” and has sung at the Glenn Gould Theatre in Toronto and at Carnegie Hall in New York. She is currently writing her first play, and songs for her third CD. She was “Beth Anne” on CBC Television’s “Mr. Dressup” for over twenty years.
Blanca came to me for private speech lessons after meeting me in her acting studio where I was the resident voice teacher. Originally from Madrid, she held an influential position as a diplomat at the United Nations in New York. She rightly felt that as a professional and as a budding actress that her speech in English needed attention. Indeed, she was often hard to understand. We began with body and breath work to release physical tensions, aspects of basic speaking - voice production which she’d experienced in my group voice class. We then went to work with every sound – vowel, diphthong, consonant- in the English language over the course of several years. To make it more fun and less dry, I assigned her monologues in English. She wanted to do anything and everything and excelled in Shakespeare and Moliere - writers whose works demand enormous speech dexterity, wit, and depth of understanding. I discovered that not only could Blanca memorize a speech after one or two readings, she understood what she was saying even when densely poetic! Blanca, in truth, was an extraordinary student. However, she shared with all non-native English speakers the need to exercise and use the tip of her tongue to make accurate sounds, and her voice was quite nasal. I gave her exercises to give her tongue more agility and soft palate stretches (e.g. yawning) to open up her sound. This created a desire in her to sing ! As I am also a singer and singing teacher we were able to incorporate singing in English, which proved to enhance her speech as singing stretches out all vowel sounds, and this in turn enhanced her expressiveness and pleasure in the English language. Our lessons eventually consisted of a bit of physical warmup, singing scales and songs to warm up her entire voice, and working on a monologue such as Cleopatra in “Antony and Cleopatra” by Shakespeare. She made tremendous strides and grew more confident in her life in professional and personal areas. Blanca was an inspiration to me and continues to be a highly effective diplomat.
Ashok grew up in India and Sri Lanka and had been working in the social work profession in Canada for about five years. His speech in English was indistinct and he was quite unclear as to where the emphases fell in various English words – one of the hardest things to grasp for a non-native- English speaker. Consequently he was very difficult to understand and I was always asking him to repeat himself. The first and perhaps most potent exercise for Ashok was simply to slow down his speech. This instantly had a beneficial effect. I asked him to apply this to his outgoing voicemail message, a vital professional tool for him. He redid it six times before I was satisfied! But his speech was finally clear and also welcoming. This brings up a crucial issue for me as a voice coach: accents are not the problem. In and of themselves they are colourful and rich! But if the client cannot be understood we are talking about a major stumbling block in communicating, and then it is a hindrance for him in his professional life. Tongue placement was a basic and vital area of practice. “V” sounds were completely foreign to Ashok who substituted our English “w” sound. By emphasizing and exaggerating vowel sounds in words, the carriers of emotion in a language, Ashok became more and more intelligible. He was a great sport, always willing to “sing”a word if his speech wasn’t clear. And the singing made the vowel sound stronger. Sometimes we simply conversed, and he would add to the list he was compiling of words in English that had unexpected emphasis on a particular syllable. (English is maddeningly inconsistent!) Sometimes he read to me from a newspaper. “Slow down” was our mantra. Other times I used Dr. Seuss books such as “The Cat in the Hat”, which are wonderful for speech training, and have silly drawings to boot. These little stories address very well the use of the definite article – “the”- which Ashok dropped habitually. We worked on and off for about two years. He has the tools and the awareness now to keep clarifying his English speech. That’s all good. If only he would practise!!
What do I mean when I say “authentic”, and what did John mean when he said that to me? Inside him was a very beautiful, resonant speaking voice, but it was covered over by tension and by his conviction that he had to make his voice lower to be credible, to be manly. When I asked him to raise the pitch of his speaking voice, it felt too high to him but it sounded more, well, authentic, to me. We worked for a month or so on very specific range exercises; I would ask him to take a phrase of poetry and say it in his falsetto. Yes, as if he were on helium. And then to utter the phrase a wee bit lower, and incrementally down and down but quite slowly. He hit a point in his range where the phrase just rang. It was beautiful, and it was a few tones above his adopted or habitual speaking range. To my delight he was thrilled by this because he could feel the vibrations of his own natural voice. John would go in and out of a lovely lilting West Newfoundland accent. I think this compounded the feeling of authentic or not authentic. But one of the features of that Maritime dialect was the tension in the root of the tongue: it was so extreme in his case, the hard “r”s and clipped vowels, that instead of rolling forward and out to the listener, his voice rolled back into his own head! There was a lot of tension in his tongue and jaw, and we worked on that with specific exercises. We met once a week for about nine months. Before long he was dying to sing and from his nervous beginnings he grew into his own natural and lovely singing voice, a kind of Irish tenor emerged, and with this John experienced great joy. He had his voice, all of it, and that gave me a lot of joy, too, and I guess that’s what we both meant by “authentic”. Sometimes you have to search for it. Now, we can’t shut him up! He grew into his own beautiful natural singing voice
“I tend to live in my head and Beth Anne helped me to connect mind and body so my voice could flow freely and greatly improve public speaking in any given circumstance”. - Ana Jiminez, diplomat, United Nations, New York “This course (of lessons) is very useful for Chinese speaking people because of the number of small sounds that are not in Chinese! The lessons give me the confidence to communicate with those around me. I love these lessons!” - Jay Lu, P.H.D. Mechanical engineer “Give yourself the gift of working with Beth Anne Cole. She will guide you to the truth of your text, the heart of your music and the expression of your unique vision as a vocal artist”. Jeannette LoVetri, Master voice teacher, New York “Ms. Cole is an excellent teacher and communicator: from her extensive career as an actor and singer, she has a wealth of practical knowledge…Ms. Cole assists (students) in literally opening to the possibility of communicating more effectively…” - Sheila Waite-Chuah, Associate Professor. Ontario College of Art and design “Beth Anne coached (the students) along with her gentle, nurturing, experienced manner and it was pure joy to see them perform at a different level by the end of the workshop” - Maxine Willan, A.R.C.T., Music Director, Second City Theatre, Toronto “…Sublime”…… - Globe and Mail “Beth Anne is a gentle but persistent master”…. - Souparamnian, social worker, Toronto ‘Beth Anne Cole has a rare combination of skills: as an actress, musical performer and composer. She brings all these skills to her teaching”. - Sandra Kazan, speech coach, New York “Beth Anne illuminated the path to the realization of the gift of my own voice. In doing so, she has brought a confidence and ease not just to vocalization and singing; it has been, and continues to be, a positive influence and brings great joy in all areas of my life”. Tim White, Reiki and yoga master, Toronto “…gentle but penetrating approach. She has a keen eye and gives me the feedback I need, often with humour and always with compassion and empathy. I am always confident after working with Beth Anne”. - Emma A, Toronto
Actress, Singer, Songwriter
“She has the timing of pure artistry.” - Toronto Star “Beth Anne Cole is a songwriter’s dream and a theatregoer’s nirvana.” - Toronto Sun “Cole can make the emotions contained in the lyrics almost palpable.” – Ottawa Journal “…a latter-day Lucille Ball who shows a remarkable talent for creating chaos out of order.” Maclean’s magazine “She has that marvellous grasp of character which elevates each song into a production of its own.. (she is) totally herself and totally ours.” - Lethbridge Herald “Unfailingly transforms the competent into the sublime.” - Globe and Mail “Cole is inimitable” (in “The Desert Song “, Shaw Festival) “The most expressive eyebrows since Jack Benny” – Toronto Star “A superb singer- actress….incendiary “Pirate Jenny”. – Boston Herald “Beth Anne Cole’s voice is an embrace”. – Anne Michaels, novelist and poet “Her big-as-millstone eyes and her lyrical voice were never more appealing” – Canadian Jewish News “She can break your heart when she sings” – Boston Globe “She can do more with one song than other artists do with a whole play” – Toronto Sun