Identical twins Will and Anthony Nunziata want you to know that in at least one important way they are very different: their living styles.
"I love Anthony but we're kind of like Oscar and Felix," TV's neat-and-messy odd couple, Will says. "He lives in what he calls 'organized chaos.' I think the word 'organized' is debatable."
So they don't live together?
, um, that would be, um,
, no!" Will stammers. "I live in
. Anthony lives in Queens. The East River is our middleman — and we like it like that."
In a later conversation, Anthony hears the story: "That's lovely for him to say, especially around Easter," he deadpans with a mock sigh for good measure. "This is how he usually works. He tries to throw me under the bus."
Brotherly kidding aside, the Nunziatas are taking a serious stab at a musical career with their double act, which they will present during the final weekend of
annual Orlando Cabaret Festival, three weeks of performances that begin tonight.
So far, so good: They've performed with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, Colorado Pops Orchestra and Cape Cod Pops Orchestra. They've been on TV, on
." They took part in "Sondheim: The Birthday Concert," celebrating composer Stephen Sondheim's 80
, and their touring schedule has included a weeklong engagement at noted New York cabaret venue Feinstein's.
Not bad for the 27-year-old brothers from suburban New York who started out as children re-enacting scenes from Disney's "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," a 1971
"I was Angela Lansbury," sighs Will, decades later. "That was Anthony's casting decision."
"Nothing is ever forced," Anthony weighs in. "It was
to be." Then he laughs: "Tough luck, Angela!"
As children, the brothers realized that bonding over tunes from
and Ol' Blue Eyes standards wasn't necessarily common behavior.
"Before we could speak, we were instinctively harmonizing," Will says. "Even now, I'll look at Anthony and say, 'That's a little freaky.'"
But their mutual love of cabaret-type music made them closer.
"The kids in the playground were talking about
. We were singing
," Anthony says. "There's something odd about that … so we had each other."
They weren't completely written off as music nerds, Anthony says, because they were also athletic. The two were cross-country runners and two-time national champions in the junior doubles division of the American Platform
Both brothers attended Boston College and were on their way to try out for the tennis team, as Will tells it, when they passed the college theater. Auditions were taking place for "Godspell," and the brothers decided to give it a try.
"Anthony was Jesus, I got Judas," Will recalls, and then echoes his brother's deadpan humor: "Our career began with me crucifying him. Our mom was proud."
The brothers credit their parents for supporting their endeavors and count on younger sister Annie — "She's the normal one," Will says — to be their most truthful critic.
Family influenced the types of songs they sing in their act.
"We're 50 percent Italian," Will says. "Growing up around the Easter table, our relatives would break into 'Funiculì, Funiculà.' That was normal."
Disney music was also a strong influence: Family trips to
were big events.
"My view of Orlando is very Mouse-i-fied," Will admits. "I equate Orlando with the Polynesian, Epcot, Mickey and Minnie."
"I'm obsessed with Disney World," Anthony says. "People look at me funny when I say
is one of my favorite movies."
While in town, the brothers plan to visit a high school or college to talk about the power of the arts. It's something they do wherever they perform.
"We love doing that," Anthony says. "We like to say we're extending our family wherever we go."
That feeling carries over to their show, too, he says.
"We do this because we have the opportunity to do it, we're blessed," he says. "It's about celebrating life and celebrating family." Then he laughs at himself: "Will would say 'That's an Oprah moment.'"
Though the twin factor gets them noticed, they both hope they become known for more than sharing the same DNA.
"Mom always reminded us that what we have together is a miracle," Will says. "But we know we're beyond a 'circus show.' We're two individual artists, who happen to be brothers, who happen to be twins."
"We don't do telepathy, we don't dress alike," Anthony concurs. "We could be from different planets" — then he pauses with a comic's timing — "but Will's planet has yet to be discovered."
See for yourself
Will and Anthony Nunziata at Orlando Cabaret Festival
Mad Cow Theatre, 105 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, May 12-14; 3 p.m. Sunday, May 15