The Nunziata Twins :: In-synch in song (and life)
Singing identical twin brothers Will and Anthony Nunziata, 27, have had quite a run since their "aha" moment in a Boston College production of "Godspell." Anthony played Jesus and Will played Judas (talk about your doppelgänger!), but after the show they looked at each other and decided to try singing together professionally.
"It fit our personalities to a point," Anthony deadpanned about the Jesus/Judas experience. "You can tell us apart by our personalities."
That turned out to be true, as I interviewed the upbeat and animated Anthony at Vynl in midtown before speaking with the darker and seemingly more earthbound Will by phone an hour later.
An act was born
Soon after the "Godspell" experience, when the Boston Pops and conductor Keith Lockhart visited campus, the brothers, only sophomores, were asked to sing Stephen Sondheim’s "Our Time" to an audience of 10,000. The Nunziata brothers-as an act-were born.
Will also remembered another key moment when they both had a callback for "South Pacific" on Broadway, which they didn’t get. "We decided that we needed to create our own destiny," he said. "Everything since then has been from the doing, not from talking."
"Boston College was a great opportunity for us to lead separate lives, but it nurtured our talents together," Will said. "We were able to perform at school and all over Boston."
Since then, the brothers, born in Staten Island and raised in Westchester, have toured all over the world singing with orchestras as well as intimate cabaret spaces, and guested on television shows, including "Good Morning America."
"Right out of college, we sent out packets to orchestras and the February after we graduated we were booked to sing at Severance Hall with the Cleveland Pops," Anthony said, recalling their first professional gig. "From that moment, we realized we could play New York clubs but also could broaden our appeal to concert halls."
Story continues on following page.
Watch the Nunziata Brothers perform at the Loews Regency Hotel during NBC’s television coverage of the Columbus Day Parade in NYC.
A secret language
John Iachetti, the booking manager at Feinstein’s at the Regency, happened to catch their first New York act at the Laurie Beechman Theatre a few years ago and decided to book them at Michael Feinstein’s posh club at the Regency. Their week-long engagement beginning July 19th will be their third at the renowned hotspot.
"What we’re doing at Feinstein’s at the Regency is completely different from anything we’ve done anywhere," Will said. "This show will surprise people. It delves into our differences, mostly through song. I’ve never been more vulnerable on stage."
Anthony concurred. "It’s about our individual journeys and how we approach things, but in the end we’re celebrating the truth that we have each other."
Each stresses their individuality. "We are two artists who happen to be brothers who happen to be twins," Anthony said. "We don’t look at it as a gimmick."
Still, they acknowledge that the twin thing has probably helped get them bookings. "I would not be able to play these venues this early on in my life without Anthony," Will said. "But our career is based on word of mouth and we’ve been invited back everywhere we sing."
Seeing the way they look at each other when they sing, though, is to witness a connection that can’t be manufactured. "I have to react to him," Anthony said. "We’re in sync with each other and unconsciously aware of when the other is turning."
"It’s like a secret language," Will offered. "I know what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling."
Both expressed amazement at how many couples of all kinds come up to them after a show and tell them they can relate to their chemistry.
Their educational outreach
The brothers perform songs from the Great American Songbook, Broadway, pop and even Italian songs.
"We learned Italian from listening to Pavarotti and Lanza," Anthony said. "But later, when I learned what they meant, I loved them even more. At our core, those songs are about our heritage and upbringing."
Another project the two have started is an educational outreach program called Double Duty. They travel to schools to encourage students to pursue their dreams, and make the case for arts education. "We tell the kids that they will hear a lot of nos and don’ts, but to find their passion and pursue it," Anthony told me.
They live by the Boston College motto: "Men and women for others."
"We are firm believers that if you are given some kind of talent, you have a responsibility to give back," Will said. "We’re getting back something that’s not monetary but so much more."
"And it really puts a perspective on life when you sing for kids," Anthony added.
The pair have also performed benefits for Ronald McDonald House, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and Song for Hope.
Their mentors include Michael Feinstein, who encouraged them to keep going, and Michael Frazier, the producer of "Lena Horne: The Woman and Her Music," who passed away in 2009.
"He encouraged us to learn the business side, and urged us to intern with producer Richard Frankel, which we did," Anthony recalled. "Those six months were the most valuable experience. We really got to see how all kinds of shows are marketed."
Their gay following is growing too. "Our show is all about celebrating life and being proud of our individuality-that resonates with everyone," Anthony said. "And we’re not scared to have fun and also show our vulnerability."
Will was a bit more practical. "I think there is a fascination with twins and our brothership is about cute guys who happen to be singing together." He laughed. "When I talk to our gay fans, there is a lot of talk about legalizing gay marriage. I always ask if we can legalize twin divorce."
Although Will went on to say that he and Anthony "are very strong-willed and opinionated," they value their collaborative efforts with director Eric Michael Gillett and musical director Tedd Firth, as well as each other. "I get so much out of working with Will, personally," Anthony said, and Will agreed.
"I surrender to whatever is meant to be," Anthony said of the future. Both have hopes for recording and television projects, more concerts, and even individual projects.
"We can tend to overthink things," Will said. "But at the end of the day, if we can continue to make a living doing what we love, that is fantastic."
Will and Anthony Nunziata will appear at Feinstein’s at the Regency, July 19th-23rd. Go to the Feinstein’s at the Regency website.
For more details. To learn more about the brothers, go to the Nunziata Brothers’ website
Watch this interview with the Nunziata Brothers by Jason Drew of www.AP-RED.com.