Anthony Nunziata Solos at 54 Below

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Cabaret Review by Joe Regan Jr.

 

Anthony Nunziata, who has appeared in many shows with his identical twin Will, made an auspicious solo show debut at 54 Below on Friday, November 28 at 9:30 PM. Nunziata was smart enough to use Tedd Firth as musical director/arranger, Tom Hubbard on bass, and the amazing Sherrie Maricle on drums and percussion. Although some of the songs he has done before in tandem with his brother, these were all new arrangements and they were all superb.

Nunziata who is the dramatic actor of the twins, brought great emotional intensity to almost all his selections. Some of the Styne, Newley, Arlen, LeGrand, Sondheim selections were familiar but Nunziata’s renditions of them wasn’t. They were intense and insightful.

Nunziata opened with “Once in a Lifetime,“ sung as he strolled in from the audience and belted out on stage in an almost angry attack. He followed immediately with an intense “Being Good Isn’t Good Enough” from “Hallelujah Baby.” On some songs (“The Way You Look Tonight,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Where Do You Start”) he would begin softly and then after a great trio rhythm break, burst into aggressive swing. Because Nunziata has perfect elocution and enunciation, you never missed a word on the fast versions.

In the twins’ act they tell the story of visiting their Italian grandmother and how she would sing them lullabies, including “O Solo Mio.” In this act, Nunziata assumes his grandmother’s soft voice, singing all the meaningful Italian words, absolutely channeling her. Nunziata and Firth’s arrangement and playing make this number a special work of art that I hope will be seen again.

Of course, as a guest star he brings on his twin, Will, who is the physically energetic one, bouncing all over the stage. (Will was wearing the same suit but with a blue shirt) with “This Will Be The Start of Something Big.” Their second number is also unique and special. Anthony begins with Bricusse and Newley‘s “Who Can I Turn To,” sung very sadly, but Will comes on with “What Kind of Fool Am I” and they both sing them together in glorious countermelody. It’s done with love, affection and caring – works great!

Alone again, Anthony does a serious “Distant Melody” from “Peter Pan” but pairs it, in a stroke of genius, with Billy Joel’s “Lullaby.” The Sondheim songs are a warning “Children Will Listen,” and “Loving You” paired with “Somewhere,” all with full emotional weight.

Before his final songs, Anthony sings a loving “When I Fall In Love,” followed by a rapid fire “On A Clear Day,” never faltering on any of those tongue twisting lyrics.

His very unusual encore – a solemn, but beautiful song in honor of the holidays, “Lord’s Prayer.”

Will and Anthony Nunziata have several future dates together but watch for Anthony Nunziata’s repeat of his solo show. You won’t be disappointed.

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254 W 54TH ST, CELLAR, NEW YORK, NY 10019

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