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Will Nunziata - Figaro: An Original Musical and White Rose: The Musical Interview

Center Stage Records has released the world premiere cast recording of West End-bound Figaro: An Original Musical. The recording is currently available digitally on all major platforms and at www.CenterStageRecords.com

Figaro: An Original Musical has a book by Ashley Jana and Will Nunziata with music and lyrics by Jana. Nunziata is set to direct the West End premiere later this year.

Set in mid-1800s Italy, Figaro: An Original Musical is the hauntingly beautiful tale of Sienna, a young woman who dreams of singing but feels imprisoned by her life on her father's farm. When a chance encounter with two young orphans thrusts her into the life of a traveling performer, she meets the handsome Figaro, who promises to make all her dreams come true - but there is always a price to fame. Part love story, part mystery, Sienna's journey to discover herself and live the life she always wanted is fraught with twists and turns until it culminates in a moment that will change the course of her life forever.

Whilst Yellow Sound Label has announced that it will release the World Premiere Recording of White Rose: The Musical. The album is set to be released digitally and streaming by Spring 2024. The new musical is based on a true story, and features a book and lyrics by Brian Belding, music by Natalie Brice, and direction by Will Nunziata. The musical follows a group of university student activists who stood up to Hitler in Nazi Germany, risking everything by creating and distributing leaflets that challenged his propaganda. The recording is based on the 2024 Off-Broadway production currently playing at Theatre Row through March 31, 2024. For tickets, please go to www.WhiteRoseTheMusical.com.

We sat down with Will Nunziata to discuss his career and work on both projects.

Where did your arts career begin?
I began singing professionally when I was 10 years old, mainly singing jingles for commercials.


How did you approach a career in the arts?

Because I was heavily involved in school activities and athletics, my parents wanted me to have as much of a "normal childhood" as possible, so they really didn't push me to perform professionally unless I wanted to go to an audition as they came up. The "career" aspect really came into play after I graduated from Boston College when my brother, Anthony, and I were hired by symphony orchestras across the country to sing as Headlining Guest Artists. From there, my love of Directing came about after I was fortunate to be the Assistant to the Director, Lonny Price, on the 2007 Broadway Revival of 110 in the Shade starring Audra McDonald. 

Was there any performances or people that had a big impact in your early days?

Lonny Price played a very important part of my Directing career. I learned so much from watching him work with the other members of the Creative Team as well as the actors. As a former actor himself, to see Lonny's respect and sensitivity for the actor made me realize that when I was to become a Director one day, I would use that same sense of respect and sensitivity from my time as a performer. Other people that were impactful in both my career as a performer and then a Director include: Carl Topilow (conductor and music director of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra who gave me my first Headlining Guest Artist job out of college), Warren Carlyle (Tony Award winning Director-Choreographer who I got to intern for and assist shortly after graduating college), Steven Reineke (conductor and music director of many orchestras across the country, including the New York Pops, in which I got to Co-Headline with at Carnegie Hall in December 2016), and countless others!

What inspired you to create Figaro?

The inspiration in creating this piece came from my meeting the show's composer/lyricist and co-book writer Ashley Jana over the pandemic after listening to her pop songs on social media. I saw in her songs an amazing skill-set of storytelling that I felt would lend itself well to her writing for musical theatre. After over two years of weekly Zoom sessions, we co-wrote the book and she created a stunning score for this new, original musical about a young woman, Sienna, who goes after her dream of becoming a singer - despite the devastating risks and sacrifices she makes along the way.

Where did you begin with the writing process?

The writing process began over Zoom, and Ashley and I would spitfire back and forth ideas for the storyline. As we moved our way through the show, we would pinpoint the moments we felt "speaking" was no longer enough for the character's to express themselves... and that's when Ashley would create the music and lyrics for the songs.

Does the book writing come first or the music or is it a combination of the two?

I would say it was a combination. I would sometimes pitch a story idea, and Ashley would take that seedling of an idea and create the most incredible song. Or Ashley would sometimes come up with a gorgeous song for a character, and we would discuss how we could implement it into the show's narrative.

What research did you have to do whilst writing the piece?

We did research on what it must've been like for a young woman like our heroine, Sienna, to live in Italy during the mid 1800s. From there, because it's an original idea and concept, we played with time as it pertains to the musical landscape of the show, which lives in the pop-musical theatre crossover world  (a musical landscape that wasn't a part of the mid 1800s Italian culture). Ashley and I love the dichotomy of the time period in which our show is set vs. the type of music is being sung by the characters. 

How do you think social media has changed how you release material for new musicals?

I think the reach social media has to connect people from across the country and around the world is wonderful for new musicals, especially for Figaro: An Original Musical. Because of the universality of the show's message and authenticity, I am so excited for the world to hear our show before it hits the stage.

The production is set to open in the West End later in 2025, how much are you looking forward to bringing it to a London audience?

We will be bringing the show to the West End in early 2025, and I am so excited to also be directing the production in London as the first big step for audiences to see the show. 


What do you hope an audience member takes away from seeing the show?
 
I hope people are both entertained and inspired by our brand-new, original show whose messages are universal and speak to audience members of all ages.

You have also been directing White Rose: The Musical, what drew you to this project?

What drew me toward White Rose: The Musical was the fact I wasn't familiar with this courageous and inspiring group of university students who spoke out against the lies of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Once I did research on the White Rose, and read the script and heard the music for the musical, I was "hooked".

What is the message of the show?

There are many wonderful messages in the show, one being the importance of speaking out and resisting against things that one feels is wrong.

How much do you feel this connects with an audience in 2024?

I feel that the show has connected and will continue to connect with audiences in 2024 and beyond as it's a timely story of speaking Truth to Power. To see audience members of all ages respond so positively to the off-Broadway premiere has been invigorating and inspiring.

What do you hope the future is for the production?

I am excited about the World Premiere Recording of the Off-Broadway company being released sometime in late April or early May 2024 as well as a forthcoming production overseas to be announced soon.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only 3 musical theatre recordings, which would you take?

GypsyRagtime, and Figaro: An Original Musical (and once it's released, of course White Rose!)

What keeps you inspired?

The amount of talent that's out there who are yet to be discovered!



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