By Aine Abruscati (@AAbruscati)
The dynamic performing duo, Will and Anthony Nunizata, an incredibly talented pair of brothers who sing, act and entertain audiences with their fresh take on timeless standards from Broadway to pop, have been inspired to take a different approach with their upcoming concert on October 5, titled “Broadway Goes to Church.”
With help from their friends in the Broadway and cabaret community, the brothers are putting on this evening of uplifting songs and music at The Church at St Paul the Apostle on the Upper West Side near Lincoln Center.
A Huffington Post article written last year by #COTA’s Editor-in-Chief Steve Schonberg reveals much about the brothers and the inspirational journey that led them from their childhood home in Pelham Manor, New York to where they are today, traveling around the country, selling out symphony halls. With this performance, however, Will and Anthony are fusing music with faith, bringing together two deep, forms of enlightenment: Broadway and church. As parishioners of St Paul’s, Will and Anthony describe their place of worship as a “21st century church.”
What makes St Paul’s so unique, Will says, is its inclusionary spirit and tradition of welcoming a variety of visitors and worshippers to its congregation. “Our hope is that this unique musical experience will inspire people. The purpose is to celebrate all that is good.” The concert comes on the heels of Pope Francis’ visit to New York City, during which he spoke passionately about the fraternity of mankind, welcoming immigrants and helping those less fortunate.”
The church’s location in Lincoln Center and close proximity to the theatre community presents an opportunity to truly connect Broadway’s meaningful impact to the neighborhood by sharing the personal stories of artists through songs and testimonials, and making their experiences relevant and relatable to audiences.
Stars set for this special performance include Tony Award winners Lillias White and Cady Huffman, Avenue Q star Stacie Bono and Kinky Boots’ Kevin Smith Kirkwood. Garrett Taylor will serve as musical director, and will lead a 40-person choir and multi-piece orchestra.
When asked how they developed the idea for this concert, Will and Anthony point to one of their favorite movies from childhood: the 1992 film “Sister Act,” starring Whoopi Goldberg. “The combination of hearing music from the church in such an inventive and entertaining way left a lasting impression on us,” says Anthony.
The brothers are emphatic that the concert, first conceived in May of this year, has been a great team effort that required a lot of behind-the-scenes work. They credit Pastor Father Gil Martinez for his support and for championing the concert from the beginning. Referring to him as a dear friend who embodies the spirit of everything and anything Catholic, Will and Anthony say Father Gil is very much responsible and influential for the spirit of openness that St Paul’s is known for. “He gets it. No matter where you are in your faith, everyone is welcome.”
In a press release, Father Gil said: “Will and Anthony approached us with the idea of celebrating our faith, care and concern for each other with a live concert comprised of inspirational Broadway tunes performed by Broadway stars. The concept fits perfectly with our mission to broaden our appeal to the different markets that make up the remarkable mosaic of individuals and families in our parish and beyond.”
Proceeds from the concert will go to St Paul’s Ministry program, supporting one of the church’s goals to deliver music to a wide variety of audiences. This resonates with Will and Anthony, who are strong advocates of arts education.
“The hope is that sharing a selection of beautiful, powerful songs with inspirational messages will entertain the parishioners and people in the neighborhood as well as reach out to new people, including younger individuals,” the brothers tell #COTA. “As the artists reveal something personal about themselves and their journeys, they may unlock and reveal something in others, and that’s something to celebrate.”
Besides their incredible talent, what makes Will and Anthony so special, in the view of this editor, is the importance they place on family and the inspiration they draw from their bond. And “Broadway Goes to Church” is just another example of how the brothers incorporate where they come from into their art; their father’s company volunteered to do all of the advertising and design work for the concert.
In a nod to Will and Anthony’s creative inspiration, the choir will perform several songs from “Sister Act,” bringing the idea full circle.
To purchase tickets for “Broadway Goes to Church,” visit www.tinyurl.com/BroadwayChurch.
To learn more about Will and Anthony Nunziata, and their upcoming tour dates, visit www.willandanthony.com.