Mary Lee Talbot | Staff Writer
If the way to get to Carnegie Hall is to practice, practice, practice, how do you get to the stage of the Amphitheater?
For Will and Anthony Nunziata, it was practice and the PBS special Chautauqua: An American Narrative.
They will present “An Evening with Will and Anthony Nunziata” at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.
Seasoned cabaret performers, they sing the American Songbook, Italian Songbook, Broadway tunes, jazz favorites and contemporary music.
Will and Anthony were in Florida at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach at the end of January. Between shows, Anthony turned on PBS, and “heaven came on the screen.”
“I pulled up the website and everything that I have come to love, everything about what I do, I saw on that screen,” Anthony said. “It’s about faith, arts, family, education and especially education in the arts.”
Anthony told Will about the special, and Will watched it as well.
“What I saw was community, a true environmental space,” Will said. “It was the indoor-outdoor aspect of the place that caught my attention. There is something very American about it. In a fast-paced world, it is cool to remember the freedom we have, especially the right to expression through the arts.
Anthony got in touch with Sheryl Thayer in the Program Office and told her, “What a wonderful place you have.”
He also mentioned that he and his brother were performers and then told his booking agent to drop a line to Marty Merkley, vice president of Chautauqua and director of programming.
“I checked them out,” Merkley said. “They have made a name for themselves in the cabaret world. They are young, fun and different. Why not invite them?”
Will and Anthony have been performing since they were children.
“Our mom said we had been singing since the womb,” Anthony said. “One of my earliest memories is having a karaoke machine. Mom was filming while Will and I were singing, and Dad was wrapping our Christmas presents behind our backs. We were singing ‘Jingle Bells.’”
Both sang in high school musicals. One of their early professional jobs was singing in a commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios. A real turning point came when they both went to Boston College.
“We were on our way to try out for the Division I tennis team,” Anthony said. “We are both very competitive. We saw a poster for tryouts for Godspell and decided to try out. I got the part of Jesus and Will got the part of Judas. We were able to revel in our individuality yet share the stage as brothers.”
Yes, they are twins.
“There is no twin shtick on stage,” Anthony said. “We are artists who happen to be brothers who happen to be twins.”
Will agreed: “We were raised as individuals. While other kids were listening to Madonna and other pop artists, we were listening to Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.”
Dubbed “a dynamic duo with beautiful voices and charming personalities” by Cleveland Pops conductor Carl Topilow, Will and Anthony have traveled the world with their duo concert act.
Some of their recent television appearances include ABC’s “Good Morning America,” NBC’s “Columbus Day Parade” and “The Rachael Ray Show.”
Will and Anthony have headlined as guest artists with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, Colorado Pops Orchestra, Brockton Symphony Orchestra and the Cape Cod Pops Orchestra to an outdoor audience of more than 20,000.
They have had multiple nightclub engagements at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency in New York City. They also performed in the chorus finale of the PBS special “Sondheim: The Birthday Concert” celebrating the 80th birthday of Stephen Sondheim.
One achievement they are proudest of is their “Double Duty” program.
“Double Duty” is an educational outreach program where the brothers travel to colleges, high schools and elementary schools and speak to students about the importance of arts education and about their personal journeys in music and the entertainment business.
While on tour, they work with a venue’s education director to take time to speak with students. They offer advice to students while engaging them in a dialogue about the arts and living out their dreams. Arts education and radiating a positive outlook for the arts and in life are of prominent importance to both Will and Anthony.
“One of my biggest thrills as a child was when performers came to school to talk about the arts,” Will said. “The motto of Boston College is, ‘Men and Women for Others,’ and we want to inspire kids to follow their dreams. Here are two real guys who happen to be brothers and twins. It is cool to be a ‘Gleek,’ and I want them to see that if these two can do it, anyone can.”
The brothers had their own teachers along the way.
“We had mentors to help us,” Anthony said. “We tell them to look for mentors and to do what they love. Especially today, with arts education being cut, kids need to find the people who can help them make their dream come true. And since we are not much older than they are, we can show them that we are still on a journey and we enjoy it.”