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Entries in American Songbook (5)


Call Answered: Conference Call: Jesse Luttrell & Fred Barton: "Jesse Luttrell Showstopper" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Jesse Luttrell, Photo Credit: Christopher BoudewynsFred Barton, Photo Credit: Rick StockwellI have been Facebook friends with Jesse Luttrell for several years now and he's always been on my radar as someone I have wanted to interview. I have heard many of Fred's great arrangements attending a New York Pops' concert. The fact that I now get to interview them together is icing on a very delicious cake!

Jesse & Fred are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with Jesse Luttrell: SHOWSTOPPER, an unforgettable solo homage to the golden age of American entertainment, unleashing Jesse's shattering voice and theatrical, post-modern vaudevillian style with an evening of treasured swing, big band, and show songs. Jesse Luttrell offers an exciting departure from the traditional evening of standards. SHOWSTOPPER is a high-energy show that includes stellar custom orchestrations by acclaimed New York Pops orchestrator Fred Barton.

Jesse Luttrell: SHOWSTOPPER will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on Friday, January 19 at 9:30pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Jesse visit and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Fred visit and follow him on Twitter!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

1. On January 19 you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with your show Jesse Luttrell: Showstopper. What excites you about this show? 

Jesse Luttrell: I've been doing SHOWSTOPPER for about three years now all over the country and I'm always excited to return to New York and 54 Below where it all began. The audiences in New York are almost always the polar opposite of what you get out of town..and they've known me here for over a decade from my humble beginnings schlepping drinks in the piano bar - so they definitely keep me on my toes!

Fred Barton: Jesse always injects new material into his SHOWSTOPPER show, and I can’t wait to unleash the new stuff – and I can’t wait for my 8-piece Broadway Band to sink their teeth into the new charts I’m whipping up. And of course we’ve got the best of Jesse's "hits," and they’re always a blast to perform.

2. Since this is our first interview together, let's go back to the beginning for a minute. How did you two come to meet?

Jesse Luttrell: I was in a musky basement bar full of drunks singing SWANEE at the top of my lungs and Fred had wandered in that night to see an old friend after making a final pilgrimage to a bar down the street that was closing. Our tastes aligned completely so we started talking about working together - which eventually meant cutting an album and then putting together my solo act several years later.

Fred Barton: My show tune piano bar days were back in the late 1990s. After that, the piano bar world collapsed into mainly rock-pop sing-along stuff. But one night, I heard that Rose’s Turn was closing – the former legendary Duplex, where international superstars such as Barbra Streisand, Joan Rivers, and Fred Barton got their start. So I fatefully went down there to pay my last respects. I happened into Marie’s Crisis next door, where I hadn’t been in years, and shortly before 4AM, I happened to see this kid singing a big solo with the most incredible voice I’d heard in years, and with that old-time showbiz THING you just don’t see much anymore. I felt like James Mason in A Star Is Born, standing in the back of a crappy club watching Esther Blodgett toss off a little tune called "The Man That Got Away" as if it were nuthin’. Fred, meet Jesse, Jesse, meet Fred. WHOA. I’m glad I went downtown that night.

Jesse Luttrell, Photo Credit: Kevin Yatarola3. What has made you want to continue to work together?

Jessee Luttrell: There are few arrangers/orchestrators around who understand my needs as a performer.  It helps that Fred and I are cut from the same showbiz cloth, but he also approaches every arrangement from the point of view of an actor. It won't come as a surprise to most when I say I'm a large personality with a big voice - and Fred is able to not only match that in his arrangements, but also he gives me the confidence I need to pull back when I need to.

Fred Barton: We’ve got an exact set of sensibilities, philosophies, and musical tastes in common. This kind of magic collaboration has happened to me maybe three times in my forty years in the biz (I started at 18! I’m still under 60!) – in fact, I even wrote a musical called The Two Svengalis which describes exactly what happens when two people not only complement each other, but bring better than the best out in each other. You can’t bottle, sell, or steal that. In Jesse, I found a partner in crime, a "consort battleship," as Shaw wrote in Pygmalion, who would, could, and will go the distance, not shy away from the possibilities and the challenges of wrestling with one’s own potential and talent. Jesse has one thing that many super-talented people could always use more of – intelligence. He’s the smartest artist I’ve ever worked with, and the street-smarts he’s applied to his performances and his career has made all the difference, for him and for me.

4. What is the most challenging part of your collaboration?

Jesse Luttrell: Having to schlep all the way from Brooklyn to the UWS for our rehearsals. Everything else is buttah.

Fred Barton: It’s all too easy to rest on the laurels, fall into comfort zones and patterns. Every single show, Jesse extends the boundaries and we put ourselves to a higher test. Every arrangement I write HAS to be better than any I’ve done before – I’m compulsive. It can be nerve-wracking, but otherwise, you’re a one-trick pony and people have memorized you before you even open your mouth or given the downbeat. A known quantity, or "brand," to use that dreadful word, can lead to predictability and a typical career, and neither is what Jesse and I have in mind.

Fred Barton with Steven Reineke & The New York Pops5. Now, let's get back to this show. Press notes state that SHOWSTOPPER is "an exciting departure from from the traditional evening of standards." What is the exciting departure you talk about?

Jesse Luttrell: I think when people hear that I sing "standards" they automatically have a picture in their head that I'm going to come out in a conservative suit and curate a polite evening of cabaret, which seems to have become the "industry standard" (whatever that means). I think of myself as more of an entertainer than a docent of the "Great American Songbook." Let's do some terrific songs, get the audience on their feet, and blow the roof off the joint while we're at it. Why not?

Fred Barton: Much as I love what’s now known as "The Great American Songbook," it has taken on connotations of reeling off stuff from the Golden Era, not always with a point of view. Frequently that means it’s either what I call Attack Of The Graverobbers, i.e. Gladys Bubkes Performs An Evening Of Sarah Vaughan or whomever (as if Sarah wrote the songs) – hiding one’s abilities (and limitations) inside the work of a bigger name than anyone could hope to be oneself – or performing the most pretzel-ized, twisted, new-fangled arrangements to try and freshen it up – to which I say, write your own song and leave Gershwin be. In Jesse’s show, as in my symphonic Pops work, I make it my mission to completely inhabit these songs, whether familiar or un-, with our own sensibility, but as if the songwriters are sitting at the piano with me. It’s much harder to honor the original creators of the songs, reflect expertise with their original contexts and values, yet infuse the work with your own sensibility and point of view, than it is to just riff, or copycat.

6. What is the biggest departure you took from your career path because you wanted to try something else?

Jesse Luttrell: I started professionally in musicals when I was 16 but as I saw the landscape of Broadway changing my interests shifted intensely to solo/concert performance. I wanted to do my own shows and make my own choices. I remember I had a really great year once playing all my dream roles back to back, but had a huge emotional crash after the last role. I didn't want to go back to chorus work and I didn't know what I wanted to do next so I started going to the piano bars to forget about things for awhile. It took getting a little lost to find out what I really wanted to do.

Fred Barton: All I ever wanted to do was musical theatre on Broadway, but I peaked too soon, accomplishing that in my mid-20s, before that was common. I jumped from a bunch of Broadway to composing a bunch of TV music in my 30s, which was a wild leap in creative energy. Then, after returning to my cabaret and piano bar roots, fate decreed that I should spend the next 14 years writing huge symphonic arrangements for the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and around the country – and now show-making with a one-of-a-kind talent in Jesse Luttrell. I just keep answering the phone and doing what it tells me.

Jesse Luttrell performing at Feinstein's/54 Below7. If you had to describe each other with one song being featured in the show, what song would each of you use to describe the other?

Jesse Luttrell: HAH! Penniless Bums! from the Jule Styne musical SUGAR: "see how two melody masters suffer a string of disasters just to become two penniless bums..."

Fred Barton: "Live Till I Die." Now don’t get me wrong – neither of us has a death wish, or any expectation of rolling over with our legs in the air anytime soon (at least dead.) But that song is the kingmaker of Jesse’s first set, and it captures how we feel about performing: no half-way, no sorta, no kinda, no crushingly restrained holding back in search of suffocating chimerical faux-sophistication (only a faux-sophisticate like me could use the phrase "suffocating chimerical faux-sophistication"). Judy Garland used to say, "I’m going to go out there and give ‘em Two Hours Of POW." We like POW. "Before your number’s up, fill your cup, live till you die." Jesse conveys that song’s message big-time.

8. With the concert being called SHOWSTOPPER what do you feel is the biggest "showstopper" of your own career thus far?

Jesse Luttrell: The biggest "Showstopper" of my career so far has been taking the leap by quitting my job and pouring all my money and effort into developing my solo act. I've always had the best results by painting myself into a corner -  it's really the only way to make things happen in showbusiness.

Fred Barton: Having the New York Pops at Carnegie play a huge arrangement I created, and playing the piano for it center stage. The place absolutely came apart, and conductor Steven Reineke called me out to stand center stage for many bows. I thought, "Wow, Judy Garland stands center stage at Carnegie. Me? Who am I, anyway, am I my resumé?" (Answer: YES!) And the other was my one-man show Miss Gulch Returns, which started as my personal club act in 1983, and is still selling CDs and being produced in theatres around the country these 35 years later.

Fred Barton, Photo Credit: Kevin Yatarola9. After the show is over, what is the first thought that goes through your head?

Jesse Luttrell: I know this is weird, and maybe a little too meta, but I'm totally deaf to applause...Like- I hear it but I can never tell if it was a golf clap or if they really liked it - so after the show my first thought is "did they clap" and my friends are always like "shut up, you're stupid.." Then we run to the bar.

Fred Barton: "Do I need a coat to go smoke?"

10. I have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now," where I try to clear up misconceptions about people. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about yourselves that you just want clear up? 

Jesse Luttrell: Hopefully this isn't too petty....but....I'm compared a lot to Judy and Liza, I think because I have a hearty spin in my voice - but I don't do it to try to sound like anyone - it's my natural voice. There are videos of me as a little kid singing at the top of my lungs with almost the same voice I have now (except in a different octave of course lol). Judy always said "be the first rate version of yourself not the second rate version of someone else." I like me..imma do me. Anyone who says I do otherwise doesn't know me or my work and should stay home and download my album from itunes or my website  (end of shameless plug).

Fred Barton: I don’t flatter myself that anyone gives me enough thought to have misconceptions, but since my earliest years, I know I can strike people as elite and condescending. It’s actually self-imposed perfectionism, and I know it’s not always fun to be around, but it’s no fun for me either – but if you’re not going to be as close to perfect and brilliant and fabulous as anyone could possibly be in this life, and communicate and inspire insights to and within people to the best of yours or anyone else’s abilities, what are you doing on the stage?

Jesse Luttrell, Photo Credit: Christopher BoudewynsMore on Jesse:

Jesse Luttrell has quickly become one of the most in-demand young concert artists in New York and around the country. He starred in the critically acclaimed musical revue BAWDY, which ran in New York City for an unprecedented 6 years. Jesse regularly headlines with award-winning Broadway stars in "American Showstoppers," the acclaimed concert series at New York’s Schimmel Center and on tour. His critically acclaimed debut album is featured on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby, and is being streamed daily to countless fans around the world. Before pursuing a solo career, Jesse began as a ballet dancer and trained on full scholarship with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and The Rock School/Pennsylvania Ballet. He then made the switch to musical theatre, and toured the country starring in a variety of roles including the "Pharaoh" in Joseph And The Technicolor Dream Coat, the "Emcee" in Cabaret, "Frank-n-Furter" in The Rocky Horror Show, and multiple roles in Cats, Peter Pan, 42nd Street, Meet Me in St Louis, Oklahoma, Annie Get Your Gun, West Side Story, Evita, and Carousel.

Fred Barton, Photo Credit: Rick StockwellMore on Fred:

Fred Barton just completed a 563-performance run as pianist, musical director, arranger, and actor in the hit off-Broadway show Spamilton, also music-supervising the recent Chicago and Los Angeles productions. His orchestrations are played regularly by the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and major symphonies around the country. On Broadway and national tour, Fred conducted Anthony Quinn in Zorba, Hal Prince’s production of Cabaret, Cy Coleman’s City of Angels and Robert Goulet in Camelot. Fred debuted as the original arranger/pianist for Forbidden Broadway, and created the book, music and lyrics for his 1983 one-man show Miss Gulch Returns! (Back Stage Bistro Award), still produced by theaters nationwide. TV credits (composer and/or arranger): HBO’s Cathouse: The Musical, Olivia, Wonder Pets!, Eureeka’s Castle, and The Magic School Bus (Emmy Award.) Fred has produced and arranged numerous CDs, including Jesse Luttrell’s debut album. The "American Showstoppers" concert series with the Fred Barton Orchestra, top Broadway performers, and the best Golden Age Broadway songs, just completed its fifth year.


Call Redialed: Will and Anthony Nunziata: "The New Classics" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Will and Anthony Nunizata, Photo Credit: Michael Kushner PhotographyThe boys are back! Will and Anthony Nunziata are starting the New Year off with the debut of their concert The New Classics at Feinstein's/54 Below. From Rodgers & Hammerstein and Billy Joel to Sinatra and Adele, The New Classics is an unforgettable evening of music and laughs where everything sounds new and always feels familiar, with hits like "Unchained Melody," "New York State of Mind," Adele’s "Someone Like You," "The Prayer," as well as brand-new soulful original tunes.

Come start your New Year off with the timeless songs of then and now. The New Classics will be premiering at Feinstein's/54 Below on Saturday, January 13 at 9:30pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Will and Anthony be sure to visit and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

1. On January 13, you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with a brand-new, one night only concert, The New Classics. What should excite fans about this upcoming concert? 

Will: We are going to be premiering fresh arrangements of classic Broadway songs and standards, but what I’m most excited about is our debut of original songs that I think the audience is going to really dig.

Anthony: I am excited for our fans to hear our original soulful pop music we’ve been working on this past year!

2. What makes you nervous about this upcoming concert?

Will: Nervous? I’m excited!

Anthony: I hope Will remembers his lyrics! ūü§≠

3. What song are you each excited to debut?

Anthony: "Will You Be My Everyday," an original song I composed with Jeff Franzel and Tom Kimmel.

Will: "Love Is Love Is Love" - one of Anthony’s original songs that he wrote with Jeff Franzel.

Will and Anthony Nunzaita4. This concert is described as an unforgettable evening of music and laughs. In putting this concert together, what song, that you will perform as a duet, just makes you laugh non-stop during rehearsal?

Will: I would say "You’re Nothing Without Me" from the musical City of Angels - it’s a fantastic melody by Cy Coleman with extremely witty lyrics by David Zippel.

Anthony: Ditto. This is such a fun song. It’s so clever and I try my best to make Will laugh when we sing it. And usually he breaks, so this is always a fun moment in our concerts. 

5. Since the concert is called The New Classics, what original songs of yours do you hope will become "New Classics"?

Will: All of them! :)

Anthony: My goal is that the songs sound familiar and have a timeless melody and lyrics, saying something familiar in a way that has never been said quite that way. That’s always the goal. I have been fortunate to work with collaborators who have written for major pop stars and classical crossover artists, and I’ve learned so much from them.

Anthony and Will Nunziata performing, Photo Credit: Walter McBride6. Over the past few years, you have been expanding your repertoire to include songs like Adele's "Someone Like You" and Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind." What made you want to bring these songs into your concerts as opposed to keeping the shows to songs from the American Songbook and Broadway?

Will: I’m really interested in exploring songs like this that I consider part of the canon of "The New American Songbook."

Anthony: The goal is to take a "new" approach to music  — with those two songs, the idea came from the lyrics telling two distinct stories yet there is a common emotion of yearning and from that common thread Tedd Firth and myself arranged the mashup to tell a "new" story - and as always, the goal is to tap into people’s deepest emotions and have them connect with something within their own lives while listening.

7. You are currently working on another full length CD which will feature original songs as well as fresh takes on timeless classics. What can you tell us about this upcoming album?

Anthony: We will be releasing the album sometime in 2018!

Will: Stay tuned!

Anthony and Will Nunziata, Photo Credit: Michael Kushner Photography8. Since this concert is taking place at the start of 2018, what are some of your goals for the new year?

Anthony: To continue to create music that connects... 

Will: To continue to be kind, patient, and grateful.

9. One classic song you almost always perform is "The Prayer." What do you pray for as we begin 2018?

Will: Peace and love.

Anthony: Love, peace and hope.

10. What is something about you both that would make your fans' jaws drop with an "OMG" reaction?

Will: I think they seem to enjoy when we get into a tiff. We are very different, and thus the bickering sometimes. But I’m grateful that at the end of the day we are loving and respectful for one another... and that Anthony knows I’m usually right. :)

Anthony: Oh, Will.

Will and Anthony Nunziata, Photo Credit: Mchael Kushner PhotographyMore on Will and Anthony:

Over the past 5 years Will & Anthony Nunziata have performed over 300 concerts and outreach programs across the country headlining major performing arts centers, theaters and symphony concert halls. The renowned singers, songwriters, Netflix-bound comedians and Carnegie Hall Headliners are the Brooklyn- born, classically trained singing and comedy brother duo hailed by The Huffington Post as "a nearly impossible pairing of talent, stage presence and charisma." They recently headlined Carnegie Hall for two sold-out concerts with the New York Pops Symphony Orchestra.

The brothers have brought their distinct take on classic & contemporary songs to performing arts centers and theaters, as well as intimate cabaret venues and symphony concerts with orchestras such as the New York Pops, Detroit Symphony, Cleveland Pops, Colorado Symphony, Lancaster Symphony, Annapolis Symphony, Cape Cod Symphony, Toledo Symphony, and Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The brothers studied music, acting and directing at Boston College, and trained in improv comedy at the famed Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City.

The two will be featured in the upcoming Netflix comedy The Last Laugh starring Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss to be released in 2018.

Featured on Good Morning America and The Rachael Ray Show, Will & Anthony are most proud of their "ARTS MATTER!" Educational Outreach Initiative and Master Class Workshops that educate and inspire students to fearlessly pursue their passions.

Will is an acclaimed stage director and Anthony an emerging songwriter whose original songs are featured on the brothers’ EP The Gift Is You and upcoming album that will include fresh takes on timeless classics as well as originals.


Call Answered: Nancy Opel: "Urinetown", 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists' "Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and The Women of the American Songbook"

Nancy Opel"Who rules the world? Girls!" Throughout history, or should I say, herstory, we have had many strong female songwriters. Most of my iTunes consists of songs written and performed by woman. When I saw the 92Y was going to be showcasing the music of Dorothy Fields and other women lyricists' of the American Songbook as part of their Lyrics & Lyricists' series, I couldn't wait to see who would be part of this concert. Then I saw the cast list (Marilyn Maye, Kenita Miller, Nancy Opel, Margo Seibert and Emily Skinner) and was like, "This is going to be one heck of a concert."

I loved Nancy Opel in her Tony-nominated turn in Broadway's Urinetown. She really brought the laugh in laughter to that role. I have gone on to enjoy her in Memphis, Cinderella, and Honeymoon in Vegas. My favorite Nancy Opel moment was just this past February when I got to briefly interview her during Billy Mitchell's Villain: DeBlanks at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. We had a great time together, so it's super exciting to get to do a more in depth interview with her now for the 92Y's latest Lyrics & Lyricists' concert series entitled Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and The Women of the American Songbook.

Led by Dorothy Fields, Baby, Dream Your Dream will also include such pioneers as Betty Comden, Carolyn Leigh and Mary Rodgers whose work earned them an indelible place in the American Songbook alongside their more visible peers like Berlin, the Gershwins and Cy Coleman. Their timeless classics range from "The Way You Look Tonight," and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love," to "Witchcraft," On the Town and Once Upon a Mattress.

Baby, Dream Your Dream will take place at 92Y (1395 Lexington Avenue, 92nd Street & Lexington Ave.) from March 18-20! Click here for tickets! 

For more on Nancy be sure to visit and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on 92Y visit and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. This March you are you are starring in the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists' Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and The Women of the American Songbook along with Marilyn Maye, Kenita Miller, Margo Seibert, and Emily Skinner. What are you looking forward to most about this upcoming concert? I love doing an all female show, especially with this sensational collection of gals. I’ve been a fan of Marilyn Maye’s for many many years (I snuck into the Kansas City Playboy Club when I was a kid to see her show there). I’ve worked very happily with Ms. Skinner and I look forward to this go round. Kenita I don’t know well, but we’ve done a bit of work together and I really admire her talent. I just saw Margo in IN TRANSIT and she’s great. PLUS, I have worked several times with our director, Mark Waldrop, and we always have a good time.

2. What do you think will excite 92Y audiences about this show? Well, it’s great, and I mean GREAT material - it’s an interesting grouping of points of view since it’s not a concert featuring one writer’s lyrics.

3. How did these female composers influence you? If you have been in show business for 15 minutes, you’ve sung one of these women’s lyrics, just runs the gamut on well known and significant.

4. Of the songs you are performing, which one did you jump up and down over that you are getting to sing? I am both thrilled and terrified to do "If You Hadn’t But You Did."

5. This concert is sort of a coming home for you in that songs from one of the show's featured is On The Town, which you starred in as "Madame Dilly" at Barrington Stage. Whether or not you are performing one of the songs from On The Town in Lyrics & Lyricists, how do you feel you relate to that music now as opposed to when you were starring in the show? I loved ON THE TOWN and since I sang very little when in the cast, I got a chance to enjoy and admire it back then. It’s an amazing show then and now.

Nancy Opel as "Bea Singer" in "Honeymoon in Vegas"6. Since this installment of Lyrics & Lyricists is called Baby, Dream Your Dream, what is one dream you just had to pinch yourself over that came true? What is one dream you still hope manifests for you? I’ve had a bunch of pinching moments, haha. I guess a couple of obvious ones are first Broadway show (Evita), first Sondheim show (Sunday in the Park), and Tony nomination. What do I still hope for? Well, I guess, continuing to do relevant and exciting work is all I really hope for now.

7. One of the songs being performed is "The Way You Look Tonight." Growing up, how did you feel about "The Way You Look Tonight" and now that you are an adult how has that view changed? Genius tune with equally genius lyrics. I thought so the first time I hear Fred Astaire sing them, I still do. I think the thing I understand now is that that kind of perfect pairing of music to lyrics is a pretty rare combination. It’s one of the most romantic songs in the world, especially because of all the specificity, like "and that laugh that wrinkles your nose - touches my foolish heart."

8. Another song on the show's list is "Witchcraft." If you could conjure up a spell, what you kind of spell would you cast? Give everybody great free healthcare. Bibbity-bobbity-boo!

Nancy Opel as "Penelope Pennywise" in "Urinetown"9. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I am trying to improve my health every day, too! My commitment is to cook more for myself, and to cook healthy food- mostly vegetarian and vegan for the planet!

10. Since we met during Billy Mitchell's "Villain: DeBlanks," I want to revisit the question I had asked you that evening because I loved your answer and I want more people to hear it. You're big number in Broadway's Urinetown was "The Privilege to Pee". Was there a time during the show or rehearsal or since then that you laughed so much you peed? I can't believe that you would ask a woman of certain age, whose been pregnant, and had children, if there was time she has peed.

Nancy OpelMore on Nancy:

A singer, actress and teacher, Nancy Opel was born in Prairie Village, Kansas, and trained at Juillliard. She made her Broadway debut as a "Person of Argentina" in the original 1979 production of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s Evita, and in the later run was the replacement for the leading role. In 1985, she originated the roles of "Betty" and "Frieda" in Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. After appearance as the replacement for "Hope Harcourt" in the 1987 revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, Nancy played "Eleanor" in Teddy & Alice, a musical that drew upon the relationship between Teddy Roosevelt and his daughter as well as on the music of John Philip Sousa.

Nancy was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance as "Penelope Pennywise" in Urinetown. Other Broadway appearances include Triumph of Love, Fiddler on the Roof, Memphis and Cinderella. She performed the roles of "Mazeppa" and "Miss Cratchitt" in the Encores! staged concert of Gypsy in 2007. That same year, she played the title character in the first national tour of The Drowsy Chaperone. She was nominated for the 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for Honeymoon in Vegas, in which she played the ghost of the lead character’s mother.

Nancy's television credits include the Law & Order franchise, Flight of the Conchords, and other shows.


Call Redialed: Will and Anthony Nunziata: Showstoppers! at The Highline Ballroom

It's been almost two years since "Call Me Adam" chatted with recording artists' Will and Anthony Nunziata. As they prepare to debut their new concert Showstoppers! at the Highline Ballroom on Monday, January 18 at 8pm, now seemed like the perfect time to catch up with these talented guys! 

Will & Anthony’s Showstoppers! concert delivers an innovative take on the greatest songs ever written for Pop Music, 60’s Hits, American Songbook, Motown, Italy and Broadway. A 90-minute tour-de-force concert that transcends generations. With their soaring tenor voices and acting & improv comedy chops, Will & Anthony sing fresh arrangements of classic and contemporary songs including "You’re All I Need to Get By," "Feeling Good," "O Sole Mio," "The Impossible Dream," "Unchained Melody," "Someone Like You," "God Only Knows," "What Kind of Fool Am I," and "The Prayer." The Highline Ballroom is located at 431 West 16th Street (between 9th & 10th Avenue) Click here for tickets!

For more on Will and Anthony be sure to visit and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! 

Anthony and Will Nunziata1. On January 18, you are debuting your new concert Showstoppers! at The Highline Ballroom. In this show, you are performing some of the greatest songs ever written for Pop Music, 60’s Hits, American Songbook, Motown, Italy and Broadway. What made now the right time to premiere this show?

Will: W‚Äče are always striving to give our audiences the best.‚Äč For the past year we've been developing brand new arrangements with our musical director and arranger Tedd Firth. In our concert Showstoppers!, he'll be leading a 7-piece band in the 400-seat Highline Ballroom. New arrangements of songs from Billy Joel to The Bee Gees to Motown...

Anthony: the Beach Boys to Adele and of course Broadway and Classic Standards. This will be the show the country will see in all our upcoming performing arts center and symphony pops orchestra concerts‚Äč.

2. Why did you choose The Highline Ballroom to debut this show?

Anthony: When we tour the country we are primarily performing in concert halls. So we thought why not bring ‚Äča‚Äč "larger feel" to NYC and after ‚Äč‚Äčlooking at the Highline Ballroom, we knew we found a special place....we're setting up the room so it feels like a Vegas showroom....

Will: Yes! And after‚Äč speaking with the wonderful team there,‚Äč and consulting with our lighting and sound designer Matt Berman, we thought this would be the perfect venue for what we want our audiences to experience.

Will and Anthony Nunziata3. Of the songs you are performing, how have the artists influenced your own singing style?

Will: I think the array of songs in this show represent a lot of the songs I grew up listening to. Because they run the gamut in terms of musical sensibilities, I think audiences will enjoy the plethora of stylings in the concert.

Anthony: I try not to be too influenced with how artists sing a song in as much as I focus on the lyrics and how I connect with them. That allows me to find my own truth within these songs which in turn allows me to sing the songs, live in the songs and present my unique spin.‚Äč

4. Since this show is entitled Showstoppers!, what makes you guys a "Showstopper" that people should come see?

Will: Being truthful with everything we do. From living and "being" while singing our songs to our crowd work in between songs...

Anthony: Our goal is to make people feel, make them laugh, feel inspired in some way...and enjoy this shared experience.

Will and Anthony Nunziata performing with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Steven Reineke5. What have been some of your favorite "Showstopping" numbers either on Broadway or from a concert you've attended?

Anthony: Recently, it's Cynthia Erivo singing "I'm Here" in The Color Purple on Broadway. Cynthia is giving one of the most heartfelt and authentic performances I've ever seen on any stage. As for specific concert performers...since I was a kid I've been transfixed on performers who are actors first...Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Better Midler, Barbra Streisand...I've studied how they bring their truth to the table, and construct moving and entertaining live "experiences‚Äč."

Will: There aren't any particular numbers that come to mind, but anytime a performer is willing to sing with 100% unapologetic, raw emotion and have the ability to show the audiences their "scars" and be as vulnerable as possible - that's a "Showstopper" to me.‚Äč

6. If you could sing any "Showstopper" from a Broadway show, what song would you each like to perform?

Will: "Being Aliv‚Äče." It's a true three-act-play of a song‚Äč.‚Äč It's a brilliantly constructed song, both lyrically and melodically, and it scares me - which is ‚Äčprobably why I like it so much.

Anthony: "Somewhere" from West Side Story. Tedd Firth has arranged a haunting/hopeful version of this song that makes me explore the depths of ‚ÄčSondheim's brilliant lyrics and Bernstein's gorgeous music. Premiering a new version of this song on the 18th of January.

Will and Anthony Nunziata7. One of the songs you are performing in this concert is "Unchained Melody." What is something in your life that you have unchained in this new year?

Will: Fear. 

Anthony: No regrets.

8. You are also performing "What Kind of Fool Am I." What's the most foolish thing you've done?

Anthony: Last week, after seeing a show, I forgot to stop by Schmackary's for a cookie. How foolish of me.

Will: You'll have to ask my therapist.‚Äč

9. In your concerts, you often play off of each other when it comes to your patter. What is the craziest unrehearsed thing that has happened to you?

Anthony: Will forgot his lyrics to the song "Everybody Says Don't", when he did I told the audience an impromptu story of Will being born with an umbilical chord around his neck and how the effects are clearly still with us today. We started the song again, he forgot the lyrics again, we started it again, he got the lyrics correct, and at the end of the applause I turned to Will and said something like, "We were all rooting for you there, brother. And we are all proud of you for getting through the entire song. Eventually. (beat) It's my solo time now and there's an oxygen tank backstage. (beat) Thank you."

Will: What Anthony just said.

10. You always speak of the importance of family. If you had a family of your own, what is one family tradition you would make sure you kept?

Will: To remind one another as often as possible that we are always there for one another, no matter what.

Anthony: For everyone to speak of something or someone they are grateful for today, and to speak of one thing they are most looking forward to the next day.‚Äč I try my best to live in a constant state of peace and gratitude and to actively express that gratitude to those around me.

Will and Anthony NunziataMore on Will and Anthony:

Singers, actors, funny-men and advocates of arts in education - Will & Anthony sing fresh takes on timeless songs from pop standards, Broadway, and Italian music to Billy Joel, Motown, and beyond. Hailed as "a nearly impossible pairing of talent, stage presence and charisma," Will & Anthony continue to win critical and popular acclaim for their concert performances throughout the United States and around the world.

The brothers have brought their distinct take on classic songs from performing arts centers, theaters and symphony concert halls, including The Kravis Center’s Dreyfoos Hall in West Palm Beach, FL, to headlining their symphony concerts with The Cleveland Pops Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Firelands Symphony Orchestra, and Edmonton Symphony Orchestra with New York Pops musical director and conductor Steven Reineke. From Singapore to San Francisco, Will & Anthony have created and performed tailored private concerts for countless corporate, private and Gala events all around the world. They have been featured recently on NPR, The Entertainment Weekly Sirius Radio show, The Rachael Ray Show, NBC’s The Columbus Day Parade and on ABC’s Good Morning America. In the fashion world, the brothers have modeled and been styled by Carmen Marc Valvo, Hermes U.S. and Hermes Toronto, Elie Tahari, b Michael America, and Nick Graham. Will & Anthony trained in improv comedy with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City.

Their proudest accomplishment is the creation of their Arts in Education Outreach Initiative and Master Class Workshops where they visit schools and students providing education and inspiration in supporting the arts as a significant component of young peoples’ lives. Through their workshops, Will & Anthony provide acting and vocal technique, life lessons of building a strong work ethic and personal brand, and the confidence to never give up on your passions.

Born in Brooklyn, the brothers, along with their younger sister Annie, were raised just north of New York City in Pelham Manor, NY. Music continues to constantly play in the home of their parents, Fran & Joe. Sinatra, Ella, Sammy Davis, Jr., Streisand, Dean Martin, Pavarotti, Billy Joel, Gospel - this was the soundtrack of Will & Anthony’s childhood. Today, their musical mission is to keep "America’s classical music" feeling fresh and new.


Call Redialed: Standard Time with Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall: Beyond the Rainbow: Celebrating E. Y. "Yip" Harburg

Michael Feinstein, Photo Credit: Marc Bryan-Brown"Call Me Adam" catches up with multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer Michael Feinstein! This time around we talk about Michael's March 25th concert at Carnegie Hall, Standard Time with Michael Feinstein: Beyond the Rainbow: Celebrating E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. Click here for tickets!

For more on Michael be sure to visit and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. On March 25, you will be performing at Carnegie Hall. What are you looking forward to most about returning to Carnegie Hall? What is it like to perform there now? For this particular concert, we are going to be in Zankel Hall, which is part of a three-shift series I do at Carnegie Hall every season. I play Stern auditorium about every 18 months and then do this series which focuses on tributing different musical themes and subjects that are close to my heart. I think this concert saluting "Yip" Harburg will be a great one. I think everybody that plays Carnegie Hall has the feeling they have to be at the top of their game and it's a heightened experience knowing what has gone on there before. There is also a certain kind of reverence that is shared by everyone onstage and off from the crew to the staff.

In 1978, I was 22 years old and I sang two songs as part of a Gershwin concert and I remember being very excited about that. I was speaking to Lauren Bacall, who was a close friend of Ira and Leonore Gershwin and she said, "Michael, you're going to sing at Carnegie Hall" and I said, "Yes, but I don't know where I go from there." She said (in that centurion voice), "Straight down." She was right because it was a number of years until I got near the Carnegie Hall stage again, but since then, I've had the opportunity to perform there multiple times.

It's still a great thrill for me to perform at Carnegie Hall. It's like a home away from home for me. Performing at Carnegie Hall is also a bit of a full circle experience because my great uncle was the oldest member of the stage hand's union and all the stage hand's were friends with him. So, when I first performed at Carnegie Hall, all those guys knew me and some of them are still there all these years later, so it's very special for me to see them still.

2. This particular concert is celebrating lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. What made now the right time for you to celebrate his music with a concert dedicated to his music? "Yip" is somebody I knew thanks to Ira Gershwin (Ira and "Yip" were classmates in school). "Yip" is somebody who is not celebrated enough even though his songs are well known. He's in the pantheon of lyricists and recently having gotten the 3D release of The Wizard of Oz, it reminded me just how important his work is to contemporary culture. As a result of that viewing, I felt this was a good time to celebrate him again.

Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall3. When did you initially connect in with "Yip's" music where it made you go, one day I want to do a concert of his work? Well, certainly, like everyone, at least in America, I knew The Wizard of Oz from the time I was a kid. I really became aware of Harburg when I was in my teens and started listening to other show music. I initially met "Yip" at my first Carnegie Hall concert because "Yip" spoke that night about his friendship with the Gershwins. Then I reconnected with "Yip" when I started working for Ira Gershwin around 1978. So this concert is a very full circle moment for me.

4. Joining you on stage with be the talents of Nancy Anderson, Malcolm Gets, and Catherine Russell. What are you looking forward to most about performing with them? There all consummate artists, all great interpreters of these songs and they mine the gold from the lyrics in these songs. They are three very unique talents and different in their vocal sound, the range, the approach, and their sensibility, but they all have a deep appreciation of "Yip" Harburg's work. I think it's the perfect combination of styles for "Yip" who was a musical chameleon.

Michael FeinsteinMalcolm I met many years ago and he's going to do some comedic songs which he does very well and he's going to play the piano and accompany himself on one song. Catherine Russell is a great Jazz singer who is firmly rooted in the American Songbook, so she has more of a connection to lyrics than a lot of other jazz interpreters. Nancy, to me, is the embodiment of being able to channel the essence of the Golden Age of song interpreters by approaching the songs with what I call "deceptive simplicity" and making them sound au courant.

5. What made you want to have Tedd Firth on Piano, Sean Smith on Bass, and Mark McLean on Drums? I've worked with all of them a lot and I know they are the finest in their field and will bring great variety to the music. Tedd is doing some fresh arrangements on some of these songs. That's no small feat given some of them are so well known. It will be, what I feel, the perfect accompaniment.

6. What do you hope audiences come away with after attending this concert? A greater awareness and appreciation for the genius that is "Yip" Harbrug.

Michael Feinstein singing, Photo Credit: Zach Dobson7. For someone who is very familiar with E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, what will you bring to this concert to make it your own? My personal relationship with him and giving a sense of who he was as a man and framing the songs with anecdotes that will make them hear them in a different way.

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? When I was recording for the first time, I was with Rosemary Clooney in the studio and she said to me, "Smile honey when you sing. Even though people can't see it on a record, they can hear it."

9. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That the key to the success in anything is being true to yourself.

10. How do you want to be remembered? I can't say that I want to be remembered in that it doesn't matter if I want to be remembered or not. I focus on putting something good in the world and I hope that I've contributed to the preservation of the music that I love.

Michael FeinsteinBONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? If I were choosing a super power for fun, it would be to fly because I have so many dreams about flying. Other than that, the best super power to have would be to lay on your hands and heal people.

12. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? I would call it "Michael's Mojo." It would include Vodka and fresh coconut water (and I don't mean coconut water from a can or preserved in a box), I mean pure, fresh coconut water from an actual coconut mixed with vodka. It has to be the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. It takes the edge off the tartness of the vodka and gives it a sweetness. It goes down really smooth.

Michael FeinsteinMore on Michael:

Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer dubbed "The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook," is considered one of the premier interpreters of American standards. His 200-plus shows a year have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl as well as the White House and Buckingham Palace.

More than simply a performer, Michael has received national recognition for his commitment to celebrating America’s popular song and preserving its legacy for the next generation. In 2007, he founded the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative, dedicated to celebrating the art form and preserving it through educational programs, Master Classes, and the annual High School Vocal Academy and Competition, which awards scholarships and prizes to students across the country. Michael serves on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board, an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s sound recording heritage.

Most recently, Concord Records released A Michael Feinstein Christmas. Michael, accompanied by venerable GRAMMY-award winning jazz pianist Alan Broadbent (Charlie Haden, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole), puts his signature stylings on a selection of holiday standards.

Michael earned his fifth Grammy Award nomination in 2009 for The Sinatra Project, his Concord Records CD celebrating the music of "Ol' Blue Eyes." The Sinatra Project, Volume II: The Good Life was released in 2011. His Emmy nominated TV special, Michael Feinstein – The Sinatra Legacy, which was taped live at the Palladium in Carmel, IN, aired across the country in 2011. The PBS series Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook was the recipient of the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Television Broadcast Award. The series returned in 2013 for a third season, which is now available on DVD. His next primetime TV Special on PBS, Michael Feinstein at The Rainbow Room, aired on New Year’s Eve, 2014. For his nationally syndicated public radio program Song Travels, Michael interviews and performs alongside of music luminaries such as Bette Midler, Neil Sedaka, Liza Minnelli, Rickie Lee Jones, David Hyde Pierce and more.

His new book, a Los Angeles Times best-seller, The Gershwins and Me, which is combined with a new CD of Gershwin standards performed with Cyrus Chestnut at the piano, was published by Simon & Schuster in October 2012. He released the CDs The Power Of Two – collaborating with Glee and 30 Rock star Cheyenne Jackson – and Cheek To Cheek, recorded with Broadway legend Barbara Cook. He recorded We Dreamed These Days, featuring the Carmel Symphony Orchestra; Feinstein co-wrote the title song with Dr. Maya Angelou.

Michael was named Principal Pops Conductor for the Pasadena POPS in 2012 and made his conducting debut in June 2013 to celebrated critical acclaim. Under Michael’s leadership, the Pasadena POPS has quickly become the nation’s premier presenter of the Great American Songbook in the orchestral arena delivering definitive performances of rare orchestrations and classic arrangements. In June 2014, the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts announced the launch of the MICHAEL FEINSTEIN CONDUCTS THE KRAVIS CENTER POPS ORCHESTRA which sold out 3 shows.

Michael Feinstein conducting Pasadena POPSMichael serves as Artistic Director of the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts, a $170 million, three-theatre venue in Carmel, Indiana, which opened in January 2011. The theater is home to an annual international Great American Arts festival, diverse live programming and a museum for his rare memorabilia and manuscripts. Since 1999, he has served as Artistic Director in collaboration with ASCAP for the immensely popular series at Carnegie Hall, Standard Time with Michael Feinstein. Starting in 2010, he became the director of the Jazz and Popular Song Series at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.

He has designed a new piano for Steinway called "The First Ladies," inspired by the White House piano and signed by several former First Ladies. It was first played to commemorate the Ronald Regan centennial on February 6, 2011.

In 2013 Michael released, Change Of Heart: The Songs of Andre Previn, (Concord) in collaboration with legendary composer-conductor-pianist Andre Previn, with an album celebrating Previn’s repertoire from his catalog of pop songs that have most commonly been featured in motion pictures. The album opens with "(You’ve Had) A Change of Heart." Previn’s work is highlighted with four Oscars and 11 GRAMMY Awards.

In 2005, Michael recorded Hopeless Romantics, a songbook of Harry Warren classics recorded with legendary jazz pianist George Shearing. The previous year, he completed a national tour with songwriting icon Jimmy Webb based on their album Only One Life – The Songs of Jimmy Webb. The disc was named one of "10 Best CDs of the Year" by USA Today.

In 2003, Michael received his fourth Grammy nomination for his release Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, his first recording with a symphony orchestra. The year before, Rhino/Elektra Music released The Michael Feinstein Anthology, a two-disc compilation spanning the years 1987 to 1996 and featuring old favorites and previously unreleased tracks.

His nightclub, Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, presented the top talents of pop and jazz from 1999 – 2012, including Rosemary Clooney, Glen Campbell, Barbara Cook, Diahann Carroll, Jane Krakowski, Lea Michele, Cyndi Lauper, Jason Mraz and Alan Cumming. The club was closed in December of 2012 due to a year-long complete renovation of the Regency Hotel. Michael opened his new nightclub, Feinstein’s at the Nikko in San Francisco’s Nikko Hotel in May of 2013 and Feinstein’s on Broadway will open at a new location in 2015 and also plans for a future nightclub in London.

His many other credits include scoring the original music for the film Get Bruce and performing on the hits television series Better With You, Caroline in the City, Melrose Place, Coach, Cybil, 7th Heaven and Devious Maids.

The roots of all this work began in Columbus, Ohio, where Michael started playing piano by ear as a 5-year-old. After graduating from high school, he worked in local piano bars for two years, moving to Los Angeles when he was 20. The widow of legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant introduced him to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. Feinstein became Gershwin’s assistant for six years, which earned him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.

Michael Feinstein with Ira GershwinGershwin’s influence provided a solid base upon which Michael evolved into a captivating performer, composer and arranger of his own original music. He also has become an unparalleled interpreter of music legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Harry Warren. Feinstein has received three honorary doctorates.

Through his live performances, recordings, film and television appearances, and his songwriting (in collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Lindy Robbins, Bob Merrill and Amanda Green), Feinstein is an all-star force in American music.