“Young, attractive, charming and funny... Will & Anthony put a fresh spin on the Classics!” – Playbill
“The brothers play off each other in a way that Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra bounced off one another in those irreverent Rat-Pack days of another era” - TheaterScene
Sounds like a fun evening of entertainment to me - and now Will and Anthony Nunziata are making their Chicago debut at Davenport's for one night only on Wednesday, August 8. In their show, Broadway, Our Way, the acclaimed NYC singing duo will be celebrating the release of their debut CD, Make Someone Happy, with the best of Broadway and classic pop standards, including "Make Someone Happy", "Once in a Lifetime", "Everybody Says Don't", and their signature mash-ups of "What Kind of Fool Am I?/Who Can I Turn To?" and "This Could Be the Start of Something Big/A Lot of Livin' to Do".
The brothers have been featured on Good Morning America and The Rachael Ray Show, and they have performed at such venues as NYC's Avery Fisher Hall, Feinstein's at Loews Regency, Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall and Boston Symphony Hall. They also both have training in improv comedy and have headlined at Caroline’s Comedy Club and Gotham Comedy Club in New York City.
I am delighted to have these two handsome and talented guys here on the Dish to discuss their careers and answer a few pop culture questions.
Anthony: Over the past few years as we toured around the country in concert, audience members kept asking to bring us home with them, so we thought the most appropriate thing to do was to make a CD.
Will: We wanted to put together an album that was intimate and celebrated some of our favorite classic standards as well as songs from the Broadway and Italian Songbooks.
What is your favorite song that you sing in your show, Broadway, Our Way?
Will: It always changes, but right now, it's "Teach Me Tonight". I approach the song differently each night, depending on the audience, and because of this, it keeps things fresh.
Anthony: "The Way You Look Tonight". Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields wrote the song. The marriage between lyric and music is simply gorgeous. Poetry to music - it tells a beautiful, simple and intimate story.
How is it working together as brothers?
Will: It's great working with him. We were fortunate to be raised as individuals, and at the same time always celebrate what we had together as twins.
Anthony: It's always entertaining. We are both very passionate about our work which makes it creatively exciting at all times.
Do you have similar or different ways of preparing for a concert?
Will: We are quite different. Anthony usually likes to stay calm the whole day before the concert and then right before, rev up the engine. For me, during the day, I have to be active - revving up my engine the whole day - then right before I go on stage, I need around ten minutes of focus and peace and quiet.
Anthony: Before a concert I like to be in a quiet room, visualize the entire show, and at five minutes before the show, I get my body and mind in full-energy mode so when I hit the stage, I'm in "go" mode.
Now let’s go back to the very beginning. Did you always want to be a singer - or a stand-up comedian? And how did you end up doing both?
Anthony: I've been passionate about singing as long as I can remember. After college, while beginning to hone our act, I began taking improv comedy classes at the Upright Citizen's Brigade in New York City (similar to Second City in Chicago).
Will: Growing up, I was a competitive swimmer, runner and tennis player, in addition to being a part of the musicals and the choruses. It wasn't until my time at Boston College that I decided I would dedicate my studies to being a singer and actor. The comedy within our show happened naturally as Anthony and I are always bickering, and we kind of learned how to tailor it and weave it into the show through two years of studying at the Upright Citizen's Brigade.
What was your very first performance as a singer?
Will: My first performance was a solo in the first grade for the whole Prospect Hill Elementary School. I sang "Only Love Is Spoken Here".
Anthony: I sang the Neopolitan classic "Santa Lucia" in the second grade - and I still love singing this song today in select concerts.
Who has inspired you as a singer or a comedian?
Will: Sammy Davis Jr, Judy Garland, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra and comedians Jerry Lewis and Carol Burnett.
Anthony: Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., Jerry Seinfeld and my parents.
What is the most memorable and/or funniest moment you have had while performing onstage either in concert or as a comedian?
Will: One of my most memorable moments performing was when I was eighteen and a sophomore at Boston College, and I sang in front of over 10,000 people with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra and my brother, Anthony, beside me. We sang the song "Our Time" from Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along, and it was the clearest moment mentally that I realized that THAT was what I wanted to do for a living post-college.
Anthony: Singing "The Prayer" at our Granny's funeral. It was one of her favorite songs.
Will: As for a funniest moment, well, there always seems to be something random that occurs during every concert - especially with audience members. One woman in the front row during a concert in Florida last year kept licking her lips and blowing kisses to me when I was performing. So during my "romantic" solo, I went down to the front row and sang it to her while sitting on her lap.
Tell me about your "Double Duty" educational outreach program. How did you end up creating it?
Will: We knew we wanted to give back in some way and realized that one of the biggest issues facing schools these days is the elimination of arts programs when budget cuts need to be made. Also, we wanted to create a program that promotes a positive outlook on life - and the importance of the arts - and inspires kids to follow their dreams.
Anthony: So we decided to connect with schools wherever we travel to for concerts and talk to students. Elementary schools to colleges, our goal is simple: to give students the confidence that in whatever they choose in their life, to go for it with everything they've got!
In high school I was:
Anthony: An overachiever.
Will: An overachiever that never slept, running around from tennis practice to theater rehearsal to chorus rehearsal to student government meetings to cross-country races. You name it - I did it. The only thing I didn't do was sleep - but no regrets!
My favorite comfort food is:
Anthony: Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
Will: Inspector Gadget.
Anthony: The first hour of the Today Show.
Today I never miss a television episode of:
Will: I honestly don't watch that much TV, but right now the Housewives reality series on Bravo is a guilty pleasure - especially those ladies from New Jersey.
Anthony: The first hour of morning news from all the major networks.
The very first record or CD that I purchased with my own money was:
Will: The original cast recording of Ragtime.
Anthony: Karaoke tracks of Broadway and standards so I could sing in the confines of my bedroom.
If I was stranded on a desert island for a year, I would want to listen to:
Will: Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Audra McDonald, Tony Bennett and Sammy Davis Jr.
Anthony: Tony Bennett and Adele.
Three of my favorite movies are:
Will: A League of Their Own, Edward Scissorhands and The Wizard of Oz.
Anthony: The Goonies, Willy Wonka (the original) and The Shining.
If I could go back in time to see any Broadway show, I would see:
Will: The original Broadway production of Evita directed by Hal Prince. There's just YouTube now to see clips of it, but the danger and stakes Hal created in the little I've seen is absolutely thrilling and musical theatre at its best.
Anthony: The opening night of A Chorus Line.
If I could have anyone in the world – living or dead – be a guest at my dinner party, I would invite the following three people:
Will: Hal Prince, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.
Anthony: My Papa, Oprah and Tony Bennett.
What’s next for Will and Anthony?
Will: Next up are a slew of concerts booked right now through May 2013 across the country. Doing a television show would be a thrill - whether it be situation comedy, talk or improv. Any entertainment medium, really, that allows me to entertain and interact with audiences and instill a positive outlook on life is a blessing.
Anthony: To keep on making the best music and putting together the best shows possible for our audiences. See you soon, Chicago!
Thank you, Will and Anthony, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish. To learn more about them, check out their website at www.WillandAnthony.com. You can also become a fan on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
For reservations to Broadway, Our Way on Wednesday, August 8, at 8 pm at Davenport's (1383 N. Milwaukee Ave), call (773) 278-1830 or go online at www.davenportspianobar.com. Tickets are $25 with a two-drink minimum.