Pelham Manor’s Nunziata twins play The Emelin with ‘Broadway, Our Way’
Will and Anthony Nunziata come home to Westchester this weekend.
The calendar at Pelham Memorial High School says that Homecoming was last weekend, but Will and Anthony Nunziata — the identical twins and 2002 Pelham grads who are making a name for themselves among fans of the Great American Songbook — have circled this weekend for their own Westchester homecoming.
The Pelham Manor natives — Will now lives in Weehawken, N.J., and Anthony on the Upper West Side — bring a special concert to Mamaroneck’s Emelin Theater on Saturday, a show that Will promises will be unlike their concerts on tour or their annual dates at Michael Feinstein’s Manhattan club.
“We are tailoring the show just for the Emelin,” he said. “It’s songs that people might have heard, but it’s in a totally new context.”
Their 2012 album, “Make Someone Happy,” includes the title tune and “The Way You Look Tonight,” “The Prayer,” “Once in a Lifetime,” “What Kind of Fool Am I” and “Who Can I Turn To.”
They’ve played Avery Fischer Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Feinstein’s, and venues from Cleveland to Colorado, but this will be the first time they play the Emelin.
One number on the twins’ Emelin setlist will be a throwback to their school days, a song from “The Secret Garden,” the show they both starred in when they were seniors at Pelham, under director John Orefice and musical director Debbie Myers.
“We’ll be putting in special songs that bring us back home,” Anthony says. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing ‘Lily’s Eyes,’ from ‘The Secret Garden,’ which is one of our favorites. We got a Helen Hayes Award (for high-school musicals) for best duet for that. It’s going to be very personal and this is very much a homecoming concert.”
After high school, the brothers attended Boston College, where Will earned a degree in theater and Anthony graduated with a communications degree. The brothers then decided to get more work-related training from an unusual source, studying improv at the comedy training ground, Upright Citizens Brigade.
“That training was invaluable,” Anthony says. “The more we tour, the more we get to improvise, the more we show who we really are in public.”
The 28-year-olds, who wear their age lightly, don’t live together and they don’t dress alike. That distance, Will says, makes for a better working relationship.
“We’re very different people, which, I think, makes our concerts work,” he says. “If we were always together, it wouldn’t be interesting to work with him. Because we’re different, there’s always something fun that’s going to ensue.”
At the Emelin this weekend, they’ll be backed by Brad Gardner on piano, Jeremy Yaddaw on drums, and Adam Neely on bass, the same trio the brothers had at Feinstein’s last summer.
Anthony recalls watching old tapes of Dean Martin and Carol Burnett variety shows, listening to their parents’ record collection, which was heavy on Mario Lanza and Pavarotti, and making trips to see Broadway shows as kids.
He credits two Pelham teachers — Orefice and Myers — for lighting the performing flame in him, the more shy of the Nunziata boys.
“Debbie Myers, who was with Pelham Children’s Theater, taught us music starting in fourth grade,” Anthony says. “She was our music director for years.”
“I don’t know how else I would have learned to treat this so seriously, if it hadn’t been for her professional example,” he adds. “She taught us how to connect to lyrics and how to place our voices. And John had a huge impact on me. They both built my confidence.”
That confidence brings the Nunziatas to the Emelin and will fuel their December concert dates in California and their January dates across the South.
“We’re starting to build our brand,” Will says. “There’s nothing better than traveling to a new city and meeting new people. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that.”
“Will & Anthony Nunziata: Broadway, Our Way,” 8 p.m., Oct. 20. Emelin Theatre, 153 Library Lane, Mamaroneck. $42. 914-698-0098. www.emelin.org or www.WillandAnthony.com.