On Tuesday, July 19, 2011, I had the honor of interviewing Will & Anthony Nunziata after seeing their new show "An Evening with Will & Anthony Nunziata" at Feinstein's at Loews Regency in NYC, directed by MAC and Bistro Award Winning vocalist as well as fellow "Adaumbelle's Quest" participant, Eric Michael Gillett and musically directed by Tedd Firth (click here for my review). Will and Anthony have traveled the country with their duo concert act performing in theaters, symphony orchestras, and performing arts centers. Singing Broadway hits, classic American Standards, selections from the Italian songbook, and contemporary hits, Will and Anthony sizzle! Will & Anthony may have many similar traits, but they definitely each have their own unique style. Together, their voices blend perfectly well, while separately, each can hold their own.
They have headlined as Guest Artists with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, Colorado Pops Orchestra, Brockton Symphony, and Cape Cod Pops Orchestra to an outdoor audience of more than 20,000. They recently performed at Avery Fisher Hall in the finale of PBS' "Sondheim: The Birthday Concert" celebrating the 80th Birthday of Stephen Sondheim. Their other television appearances include ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Columbus Day Parade," and "The Rachel Ray Show."
Through their Educational Outreach Program, "Double Duty," Will & Anthony can be found working with students in local area schools about the importance of Arts Education. In addition to "Double Duty," Will & Anthony share a passion for sports. They are All-NY State cross-country runners and two-time Junior National Tennis Doubles Champions. For much more on Will & Anthony be sure to visit http://www.willandanthony.com!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Will: I was very fortunate to grow-up outside the city in Pelham Manor in Westchester County and be able to go see all the Broadway shows growing up.
Anthony: It was a combination of our father and the songs we grew up listening to. Our parents played all the standard Broadway and Italian songs and we were always jumping up and down singing along with it and our dad would sing along too to encourage us while our mother videotaped the whole thing.
2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? Will: Actually, one of them was here tonight, Steven Reineke, the conductor of The NY Pops. I would love to work with him. Having him here is very emotional for me. In our show, you probably can tell that we are very close to our family and one of my paternal grandmother's dying wishes was to see us perform at Carnegie Hall and she would have the best seats in the house.
Anthony: Tony Bennett.
3. How did you decide to perform together as a team? What have you learned about yourselves from performing together and how has this partnership enhanced your relationship as brothers? Will: I think it always came natural to us, but in college we were supposed to play Division 1 tennis together, and instead we tried out for "Godspell" and got cast. I think this show in particular is something different from anything we've done. Anthony and I were big pleasers, we like people to feel comfortable, we like to make people laugh, but this show is just about being real and raw and I think through the journey of putting this show together, I think our bond grew.
Anthony: I guess deciding to work together goes back to "Godspell" in college. I got cast as "Jesus," Will got cast as "Judas," and that was sort of the recognition that we both can pursue our individual passions, but share it together on stage as well. I think this show is about us making a vow that although we're twins, although we're brothers, we go through life with very different experiences, but at the end of the day we have each other. That's a very important thing.
4. How does this show at Feinstein's differ from your previous engagements? What excites you most about this new show? Will: The show this time around is different because its real, raw, and all about truth.
Anthony: This show is about truth. This show is about tapping into who I am as Anthony right now and for Will to tap into who Will is right now and then to find those shared moments, but yet we are coming from different perspectives. It's focused on the lyrics. It's having fun with the music and paying attention to the message of the songs. If Will were right now, he'd be saying I was sounding like Oprah right now, I guess, but I always believed that, yes, my passion is performing and it's always nice to have an audience applaud and recognize you are doing a great job, but for me, deep down, it's about communication. This is my time where I feel most true to myself. It's in a forum of being in front of people and I like touching people on an individual basis when I look into their eyes and sing to them. That energizes me.
5. What is your favorite part of the creative process in putting a show together? Will: I love the whole process of collaborating. Working with Eric Michael Gillett (the director) and Tedd Firth (the musical director) has been one of the finest collaborations I've ever had so far.
Anthony: It's the collaboration. Will and I are two different creative beings and Eric Michael Gillette is a very smart, intellectual, emotional, very truth savy director and Tedd Firth is a one man orchestra. Our collaboration musically together has just been amazing. All of Tedd's arrangements are just...when I'm on stage working with him, during those really quiet moments, I just have to listen to Tedd to get an indication of where I need to be emotionally. All I have to do is pay attention honestly and truthfully to the lyric and let the song just take away.
6. Favorite place to practice/rehearse on your own? Will: In the shower.
Anthony: Here at Feinstein's it's nice because I have my own room. A couple sets of lip trills and intervals in the bathroom.
7. Favorite way to stay in shape? Will: I go to the gym. Anthony: Run, exercise, play tennis, and go to the gym as much as possible.
8. Boxers or Briefs? Will: Boxers-briefs. Anthony: Boxer-briefs.
10. "Glinda" or "Elphaba"? Will: I like the green girl. I like rooting for the underdog. Anthony: Since I work with one, "Elphaba."
11. What's the best advice you've ever received? Will: Be yourself. Anthony: Follow your passion, the rest will take care of itself.
12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Will: Someone peaceful. Anthony: Can I just not answer this question? (laughs)
13. What made you want to start your Education Outreach Program, "Double Duty" and what have you learned from this experience? Will: I've always been a firm believer of giving. That was how I was raised. The whole "Double Duty" thing is that while we have the duty of performing, we also have the duty of going into the cities and schools and talking to kids about following their dreams. I think we live in a society today where unfortunately the first thing that goes a lot of the time are the arts programs. Kids have to know that the arts are important and that they will have a lot of people in their life that will tell them "no" and that they can't follow their dreams, but if they believe in themselves that they can do it, and no one can stop them.
Anthony: I realized we had the opportunity to travel around to different places around the country, especially with arts education to be the first to go, I felt a calling, both Will and I, to let kids know that there are people in their life who are going to say "no, don't do this, don't do that" and they may not have the support of their family or teachers, but just find that support somewhere. Following your passion, whatever it is. This has been one of the most fulfilling things because as the saying goes, "Pay It Forward."
14. What was it like to win NY State honors as cross-country runners and two-time Junior Tennis Champions? Will: It was great. We were very theatrical when we played tennis, like Venus and Serena. Running still remains a passion of mine, and I feel blessed to have been exposed to sports and the arts as a kid.
Anthony: It was a nice honor. Doing sports and athletics has always been a passion of mine and to share the whole thing with Will was and continues to be a lot of fun.