Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Maggi's Review of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, California Musical Theatre, Sacramento, August, 2016


                                   (Eric and Lesli Marguerita)

Of all the shows I've seen Eric do in the last eight years, this may have been the most profoundly moving. And that's saying something, considering I've seen him star in Jesus Christ Superstar, Miss Saigon and Whistle Down the Wind, all very emotional pieces. The reason this experience was so very special was the vision and the courage of its director, Glenn Casale. He had the courage to cast the leading role of Quasimodo (Latin for “half-formed”) with a deaf actor, John McGinty. Glenn's vision was to make us acutely feel his humanity.

He did so by giving Quasimodo a “shadow” (Jim Hogan) who brilliantly sang the heart-rending songs written by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, while John signed and acted the lyrics. Gargoyles came to life as Quasimodo's only friends, giving admonishment, encouragement and advice and turning to stone when someone else entered the scene. The only visitor had been his guardian, Dom Claude Frollo (Mark Jacoby) until his curiosity and awakening love for the beautiful and fiery gypsy, Esmeralda, played by Lesli Marguerita, gives him the courage to leave his bell tower prison for the first time, resulting in tragic circumstances.


(John McGinty and Lesli Marguerita)


Captain Phoebus de Martin (Eric Kunze) is the dashing soldier who also falls in love with Esmeralda and he is a reluctant partner with Quasimodo who insists on rescuing her from the wrath of Frollo. It was so much fun seeing Eric in this role, skillfully brandishing a sword and singing sweet love to Esmeralda in the duet, “In a Place of Miracles”. Eric has a talent for instantly switching from humor, to bravado, to ardor and he wears his heart on his sleeve.


                                                    (John McGinty and Jim Hogan)

Unlike many other musicals, this is a group effort and every single cast member is instrumental, most wearing different hats throughout, such as the brilliant Keith Beardon as King Louis XI, as well as a monk, a gypsy, and who knows how many other parts as well. Each person is perfectly cast and they work together as a finely tuned machine, each important in their own way.

For me, the most brilliant touch was at the beginning and the end. (For those of you who haven't seen the show and are planning to see it in La Mirada, this is a SPOILER alert!) Glenn has John walk onto the stage as himself. He is a good looking man and it is hard to imagine him as the ugly monster Quasimodo is supposed to be. As he is helped into a makeshift vest which contains the hump and ties it around his waist, he bends down, musses his hair, assumes a bent posture and distorts one side of his face to complete the transformation. At the end of the show, the hump vest is removed and he is John again. The best part for me was at the end of the bows, to thunderous applause, when John opens his arms to Jim Hogan and they have a joyous embrace. It was truly a magical moment, one which I had the privilege to enjoy for five performances last week.



                                                             (Eric, Lesli and John)



                                                         (Maggi and Eric)

Sending my sincere thanks to the entire cast and crew for one of the most memorable theater experiences of my life. There have been many professional rave reviews online and in the media, which I shall be posting in the days to come.




Saturday, August 13, 2016



From BroadwayWorld Austin:  "After a record number of voters in more than 70 regions worldwide, BroadwayWorld is very excited to announce the 2015 Austin winners!"

Best Leading Actor in a Touring Production
Eric Kunze -Disney's The Little Mermaid - Broadway in Austin

Best Featured Actor in a Touring Production
Fred Inkley- Disney's The Little Mermaid- Broadway in Austin

Best Featured Actress in a Touring Production
Jennifer Allen-Disney's The Little Mermaid- Broadway in Austin


Best Leading Actress in a Touring Production
Alison Woods- Disney's The Little Mermaid - Broadway in Austin

Congratulations, Eric and the excellent cast and crew!



Austin Award Winners Announced

Friday, August 12, 2016

Next up: Hunchback in Sacramento and LaMirada







Don't miss Eric as Captain Phoebus August 23-28 at Sacramento Music Circus, and September 15-October 9th at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts!

Written by Victor Hugo (Les Miserables) and published in 1831, the theme revolves around Hugo's love of the architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral and is one of the first novels to have beggars as protagonists.  The name Quasimodo has become synonymous with "a courageous heart beneath a grotesque exterior." Combining Hugo's unparalleled storytelling talents with Mencken and Schwartz's music at the beautiful Music Circus venue (not to mention seeing Eric perform a role new and unique for him) will be an experience not to be missed. An interesting tidbit: the role of Quasimodo will be played by John McGinty, a Deaf actor, who is connected to Eric through their work on the musical in development, "Brindlebeast", written by Anita Riggio.
If you will be in Sacramento and want to meet up, please let me know. I will be there all week.
So excited!
Maggi   (
maggiwun@yahoo.com)
To whet your appetite, here is a clip from a 2015 Papermill Playhouse production: 

Get your tickets: (Sacramento) here
 (La Mirada) here

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Eric to join "Les Mis" Co-Star Lea Salonga for International Premier of "Fun Home" in Manila in November

photo credit Margaret Wunschl 2016

"Fun Home", winner of five Tony awards, is set to make it's international premiere in November at the Carlos P. Ramulo Auditorium in Manila.  Eric will join Lea Salonga, his co-star in Les Miserables (he played Marius to her Eponine in 1993 on Broadway.)  They have appeared together since in concert venues, but not in a musical.  The production will be directed by renowned director Bobby Garcia, who serves as Artistic Director of Viva Atlantis Theatricals and has worked in film, television and stage. More news and ticket information will be posted as soon as they become available.

Broadway, 1993

Eric and Lea with Alain Boublil in "Do You Hear the People Sing?", Montreal, 2012

photo credit Margaret Wunschl 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Little Mermaid at La Mirada

As the La Mirada tour winds down, here is a summary of the successful run of Glenn Casale's reimagining of Disney's "The Little Mermaid".  Reviews have been very favorable of this dream cast, including Eric:


 "Of course, for every Disney Princess there’s also a Disney Prince, and Eric Kunze is as dashing as they come as “Prince Eric”. First Act declaration, “Her Voice” is introspective and hypnotic—and shows off the brilliant intensity of his own voice, while his solo “On Step Closer” is a sweet courtship through dance, as Eric acknowledges a deeper connection to this unusual—and silent—girl."
Read more...

"Kunze has a fine, Broadway musical theater tenor, and his Prince Eric is gracious and pure-hearted."
Read more...

The theater has been packed every night and adults and children exit with smiles on their faces, having been welcomed into a watery fantasy world for 1-1/2 hours.  The oohs and aahs start when the curtain goes up to reveal the mermaid Ariel gracefully swimming behind the gauzy scrim. 










Friday, June 10, 2016

The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Sacramento and La Mirada

Phoebus (Andrew Samonsky) and Esmeralda (Ciara Renée) in The Hunchback of Notre Dame musical
Photo: Matthew Murphy

We are excited to see Eric play Phoebus de Martin in Sacramento in August and September 16-October 9th in La Mirada.  (See previous post for ticket information).

The lowdownA powerhouse cast has been assembled by director Casale for the season finale. John McGinty, who makes his Music Circus debut as Quasimodo, has played Billy, the deaf member of a dysfunctional speaking family, in “Tribes” with the Guthrie Theater, Everyman Theater and Steppenwolf Theatre Company. McGinty was also in Deaf West Theatre’s production of “Pippin.” The elegant Olivier Award winner Lesli Margherita returns to Music Circus as the gypsy Esmeralda. Margherita was recently on Broadway in “Dames at Sea.” Eric Kunze, last seen here at Broadway Sacramento as the Prince in “The Little Mermaid,” plays Phoebus de Martin. Though based on the 1996 Disney film version of the story, “Hunchback” is darker and closer to the original novel in tone. The creative heavyweights are James Lapine, who wrote the book, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Though highly regarded in Europe, this musical version has had few American runs.

The original: Victor Hugo’s French Romantic Gothic novel was published in 1831. Originally titled “Notre Dame Cathedral,” the book was renamed by its English translator, Frederic Shoberl. An ensemble of characters from throughout society inhabit the narrative of this epic and influential work in which the cathedral is a distinct presence.    
Read more here.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Announcing...The Hunchback of Notre Dame at California Musical Theatre


NEW CITY AND DATES ADDED!

Aug. 23-28th
Wells Fargo Pavilion, Sacramento, CA

Purchase tickets here

Sept.16-Oct 9th
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, La Mirada, CA                
Purchase tickets here                                                    

Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz,Directed by Glenn Casale

A bold, highly-theatrical take on the moving tale of the scorned bell-ringer Quasimodo, the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda, and the dashing Captain Phoebus (played by Eric Kunze) in 15th-century Paris.  From the Oscar-winning team comes a lushly scored retelling of the epic story of love, acceptance, and what it means to be a hero. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo and songs from the Disney animated feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the film's Oscar-nominated score with new songs by Menken and Schwartz.. An emotionally rich score and powerful story make The Hunchback of Notre Dame an instant classic. Audiences will be swept away by the magic of this truly unforgettable musical.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Carnegie Hall, May 2, 2016

Broadway's Best Celebrate "Les Mis" and "Miss Saigon" Composers


Some of Broadway’s brightest stars took the stage at New York’s Carnegie HallMonday night to honor Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, the songwriting legends behind the smash musicals “Les Misérables” and “Miss Saigon.”
Patti LuPone, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jeremy Jordan and Norm Lewis were just a few of the bold-faced names on hand for “Do You Hear The People Sing,” a musical tribute to Boublil and Schönberg which also marked the 33rd birthday of the New York Pops orchestra.
Material from the French songwriting team’s lesser-known shows, “Martin Guerre” and “The Pirate Queen,” blended into the set seamlessly. Fans also had the chance to witness some rare, possibly even once-in-a-lifetime duos, like original “Miss Saigon” star Lea Salonga singing with Eva Noblezada, who will star in the highly anticipated Broadway revival of the musical next year.
Later in the show, Salonga and LuPone were both on hand to sing the “Les Mis” ballad, “I Dreamed a Dream,” with Stephanie J. Block. Hearing the three voices blend seamlessly, one couldn’t help but wish the three stars would team up for a Fantine girl group.
That number was followed by an impeccable rendition of “Bring Him Home,” sung by four actors – Eric Kunze, Robert Marien, John Owen-Jones and Hugh Panaro – who have all played Jean Valijean over the years.
Read more here.




Eric Kunze, New York Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, Robert Marien



Eric Kunze, Les Miserables lyricist Alain Boublil

Lea Salonga, Eric Kunze

1993 Les Miserables with Eric Kunze (Marius),  Lea Salonga (Eponine), Rachel York (Fantine)
"Bring Him Home" with John Owen-Jones, Eric Kunze, Robert Marien and Hugh Panaro

Friday, March 18, 2016

Part of Your World


Eric will be performing in Part of Your World, a Gala Fundraiser for McCoy Rigby Conservatory of the Arts on Saturday, April 23rd in Anaheim, CA.  Tickets are available here.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Little Mermaid Reviews

Hi Fans, As "The Little Mermaid" continues in Dallas and then goes on to Ft. Worth, glowing reviews are pouring in. Here are just a few:

 "The role of Prince Eric is expertly performed by Eric Kunze, who even looks like the charming Disney prince, with his costume and hairstyling. His ethereal voice resonates so sweetly, it’s no wonder Ariel falls for him! Kunze first captures the prince’s vitality as he expounds on the glories of a life at sea, chasing the voice on the wind. Then, he brings a gentle warmth to his scenes with Ariel, as he teaches her how to communicate through dance. "
Read more here:

 Dallas Morning News
"Alison Woods’ radiant Ariel and Eric Kunze’s magnetic Prince Eric headline a superlative cast that sings, dances and “swims” the delectably hummable score from Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, as fins flap silently against a rippling ocean backdrop."
Read more here:

Monday, February 8, 2016

California Musical Theatre Annual Gala 2016



Breaking news!
Eric will be a soloist in this year's annual event benefiting California Musical Theatre. Tickets for individuals are $300 which includes hosted bar reception, dinner, entertainment, live auction and dancing at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium on May 7th. If you wish to organize a group, tables are for 10. This will be sold out, so do not delay if you wish to attend.

Order tickets at their website or call (916) 446-5880 x 108

Information is also listed on their Facebook page

Friday, February 5, 2016

Sacramento Reviews of The Little Mermaid 2016




Glowing reviews are pouring in for Eric, the cast and Glenn Casale's production of The Little Mermaid, currently playing to sold out houses at the Community Center Theater in Sacramento.  Lines made up of fans and little girls in mermaid costumes are congregating at the stage door after the performances eager to meet Prince Eric and Ariel.

KMIX, CBSLocal.com, Kory's Review

"Prince Eric for example was a relatively minor character in the film basically just a handsome prince, the all too familiar Disney formula, now he has more depth and is actually relatable. Plus, the actor who plays Eric, ironically named Eric Kunze, is about as strong a Broadway leading man as you’ll find anywhere." Read more here.

Sacramento Goes Under the Sea:  BroadwayWorld
"Eric Kunze is a passionate and motivated Eric with a princely voice, a lovely match to Alison Woods' enthusiastic and youthful Ariel". Read more here.



Spectacular Technical Effects Dazzle in The Little Mermaid, The Davis Enterprise 
"Allison Woods is a beautiful Ariel, with a winsome personality and a lovely voice, while her Prince (Eric Kunze) is all macho 'n' stuff, with a great set of pipes." Read more.here.

Watch a live interview on Sacramento Fox 40 news with Eric and Allison here.