Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Year's Eve With the Cincinnati Symphony


New Year’s Eve Concert and Ball
Steven Reineke, Conductor
Betsey Wolfe & Eric Kunze, Vocalists
Mystery Guest
Thurs Dec 31, 2009
7:30 PM

Ring in the New Year with an evening of music and mischief. A mystery guest joins us on a musical gondola ride through Venice and beyond, with a Phantom finale. After the concert, join us upstairs in the Ballroom for a magical end to the evening with dinner, live music and libations. Mask optional.

Concert tickets: From $10
Ball tickets: $150
Concert tickets may be purchased separately from the Ball
For Tickets go to:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Music of the Night in Vancouver

The concert, "Music of the Night", starring Eric Kunze and Betsey Wolfe and directed by Bramwell Tovey with the Vancouver Symphony was fabulous both nights and I heard everyone raving about how much they enjoyed it as we were walking out. The music featured was a compilation of songs from Broadway shows such as West Side Story, Phantom, Miss Saigon, Superstar, Evita, and Les Miserables. Bramwell Tovey, the conductor of the Vancouver Symphony is really funny and made a lot of side jokes and background information about the music. He actually played the organ with a mask on (a la Phantom) then walked up behind the head violinist and startled her with it. He was replacing Erich Kunzel, who was originally supposed to be the guest conductor and tragically passed away last month. Maestro Tovey joked that Erich was the only conductor he knew that insisted upon a case of beer in his dressing room. Tovey said, there must be budget cuts, because he did not get the same courtesy. They did a tribute to Erich Kunzel at the end of the concert.

A surprise was Eric, dressed as the Phantom, singing "Music of the Night". But the highlight for me, was "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables. It was in an even higher key than originally written, but Eric hit each high note impeccably and I found myself in tears throughout.

The second night, another packed house, was just as awesome as the first, in fact better. The audience stood up spontaneously as Eric and Betsey came out for their bows and stood again after the encore. I could hear many comments around me as we were leaving how much people enjoyed the show. Everyone was raving about it. A big success!

Eric and Betsey will be appearing together again in other cities.  Stay tuned to this site for updates.  A trip report and photos of the city can be found on my blog:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eric Nominated for an Ovation Award!

Eric Kunze was nominated for an Ovation award as Lead Actor in a Musical for his performance in Jesus Christ Superstar with the Civic Light Opera! The awards ceremony will be held on Monday, January 11, 2010 at 7:30pm at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.

What are the Ovations Awards? The LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards are the only peer-judged theatre awards in Los Angeles. Labeled the "...highest-profile contest for local theatre..." by the Los Angeles Times, the Ovation Awards presents an opportunity for the theatre community to join together and focus public attention on our city’s rich and lively performing arts scene. Another goal of the program is to draw national attention to the quality and quantity of professional theatre in Los Angeles. Read more at: Theatermania

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review of Window Pains

I had an unexpected opportunity to see Eric and Gina in Window Pains in Lake Havasu last weekend. By a stroke of luck I found myself in that part of the U.S. and was able to catch the show, which was a gala season opener for Grace Arts Live. It was a treat to see not only Eric, but see him work with his childhood friend and musical partner, Gina Deluca.

Grace Arts Theater is owned and operated by Grace Ann, longtime friend, teacher and mentor of Eric and Gina all the way back to junior high school. I'm sure she was very proud to host her proteges, who have both been a success on Broadway and across the nation, in their very own production here in Lake Havasu. The show is a very unique blend of dialogue and song in two acts. Brooke Cannon, a student of Gina, and Armando Guitterez played the younger couple in love, and Eric and Gina played the older, more seasoned couple, opening the show with three numbers from "Sunday in the Park With George". The only complaint I have is that I wanted to see and hear more. The show is available for bookings. Contact Gina via the Big City Broadway website:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Report on Voices for Hope - Montreal 2009

The Voices for Hope concert headlined our own Eric and Gina and featured many well known Canadian performers including opera singer Ching Hui-Kuo, French recording artist Michel Comeau, television actor Martin Bedard, tenor and radio personality Ashley Foote, Braulio Elicer from Altar Boyz. The concert was varied and entertaining and was well received by the audience.

Eric and Gina opened the show with a dialog and songs from three numbers out of "Sunday in the Park with George". Eric, dressed in dark pants, a black suede jacket, dark shirt and tie was the painter Georges Seurat, while Gina posed for him. She had on a gorgeous black period costume and sang the theme song, followed by Eric singing "Finishing the Hat" and they both sang "Move On". This is part of the program for their "Window Pains" show which they developed and will be performing in Lake Havasu at the end of the month and other venues in the future. Later in the show they did "High Flying Adored", this time with Gina in a stunning red dress and red heels. And they both did numbers from Les Miz: Eric singing "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" and Gina doing "On My Own".

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Trip to St. Louis to see Godspell (Photos)

Click on photo below to see the whole album:

Eric Kunze Muny St. Louis Godspell 2009

Seeing Eric in Godspell was completely different for me from any of the other shows he has been in. His performance combined a little of the humor of Joseph and the pathos of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was on stage the whole time, like in Evita. And rather than being a starring vehicle it was more of an ensemble piece, like Les Miz. But there the similarities end. His multi-faceted character was alternately playful, bouyant, enthusiastic ("I wanna get washed up!) to, in the second act, angry, sad and resigned.

For the first time I was able to witness Eric's dancing abilities. He's always been light on his feet. In "Whistle Down the Wind" he effortlessly scampered up and down the ladder in the barn. In "Evita" we saw glimpses of his dancing potential. In "Godspell" he leapt up onto the rungs of the merry-go-round, precariously balancing himself like a tightrope walker. While singing, he jumped gracefully onto picnic tables and ran up a slide without missing a beat or getting out of breath. The show was filled with topical references. My favorites were when Eric in black sunglasses and a flashlight as a microphone did a rap number, complete with the requisite head bobbing and hand movements and in another number falling on his knees and playing air guitar. Dressed in tan cargo shorts and a white gauze shirt, only half buttoned, he was clean shaven, his longer hair held back from his forehead by a bandana headband.

The crucifixion scene is one I always dread. I was relieved when it seemed that this time it would be done symbolically, with Judas tying Jesus' hands on either side of the gazebo, red strips of cloth hanging down symbolizing the blood. Yet during the dramatic music and Eric singing "Oh God, I'm bleeding", "dying", "dead", my heart broke just as if it were being graphically shown, a testiment to Eric's abilities as an actor as well as a singer.

I saw the show four times. Each night it grew on me more. I prefer seeing a show more than once, more than twice even, especially if it's a show I'm not so familiar with. It's like listening to a CD for the first time. By the third time, you are humming the tunes and hitting replay on certain songs. This production did extremely well with the Muny audiences. Despite being a "small" show by their standards, with a simple unchanging set, despite the fact it was All Star Baseball week in St. Louis, the 11,000 seat theater was quite full every night. I know I'm prejudiced, but I believe this is due in large part to Eric's popularity and talent.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Take on Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar
Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities
Redondo Beach, April 24- May 10, 2009

Since meeting Eric last year in Detroit after Whistle Down the Wind I always bemoaned the fact I never had a chance to see him in Jesus Christ Superstar. I had missed him when his two year stint with the national tour came through Detroit. Of course, I had heard him sing Gethsemane on You Tube and in the Andrew Lloyd Webber show in Washington DC. But those did nothing to prepare me for seeing him in character singing that song and playing the role. As usual, he put 100% of himself into the part. Being in the front row, I was able to see the nuances on his face change as he reacted to everything that was said and done to him. During the scourging and crucifixion, his physical reactions were so realistic I couldn’t look at him and it was a relief and reassurance every night at the stage door when he emerged his usual cheery, breezy self. That’s not to say he doesn’t suffer from bumps, bruises, aches and pains from being pushed, thrown on the ground, stomped on, punched, rolled down the stairs and whipped. I’m amazed at how he manages to do that role every night, night after night, vocally and physically. During the show I could hear people around me gasp with amazement at his voice and exiting the theater the word I heard over and over again was “awesome”. Of course, he got a standing ovation every night when he came on stage for the bows.

I must say the whole cast was very strong. When you are blessed with an ensemble like this it heightens everyone’s performances as they play off of one another, feeding off each other’s energy. Kevin Bailey played Pilate as conflicted: alternately regretful, sarcastic and cruel. His song during the trial was chillingly passionate. In the role of Mary Magdalene, Karole Foreman was perfectly matched to Eric. Her role is given more prominence in this production and her relationship to Jesus is more physical and affectionate than I have seen before. She doesn’t oversing her songs and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and “Everything’s Alright” are pitch perfect. I really liked Josh Tower as Judas. So often, this role is overacted. Josh paced his performance perfectly and as a result the suicide scene is all the more powerful. He and Eric worked together in Miss Saigon recently. They are obviously familiar and comfortable working together.

The costuming in this show was the only thing I would have done differently. Granted they were going for a more modern feel, as reflected in the set with it’s urban steel theme. The ensemble’s costumes had a hippy look to them; the girls in colorful skirts that looked like they came straight from the Gap, the guys in polo shirts and khakis and Eric in cargo pants and tunic. The Pharisees were in long black leather coats and the Roman guards were dressed more traditionally. Herod (played by Harrison White) and his entourage were in black leather S&M gear. When they first appear on stage there was a gasp and laughter from the audience and perhaps that is what the director was going for. I know this scene is the comic relief, but I felt somewhat uncomfortable with it and considering the age median in the audience I suspect I wasn’t the only one. Despite that, Harrison was hilarious and was rewarded with cheers and applause at the curtain call.

The supporting cast and chorus were uniformly talented and enthusiastic. Ron Kellum and Nicole Tillman were standouts to me. Each night, the evening was begun by James Blackman, founder of the CLOSBC, with his pitch for new season subscribers and introduction of the new shows for next year. His monologue was hilarious and had the audience in stitches. I told him he could easily take his act on the comedy circuit. One interesting sidenote: James told us that American Idol contestant Adam Lambert has also appeared on this same stage in Evita.

I attended the first three performances of Jesus Christ Superstar. If my impressions are any indication, this show will be a huge hit as word gets around. I wish Eric and the whole company of Superstar much success and a sold out house every night.

(The views expressed are the **unbiased** opinions of Maggi, and Maggi alone...)

Read more about my trip to California on my blog at:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our Second Annual Fanclub Meeting

Our gathering after the April 26th performance of Jesus Christ Superstar was lovely. Eric's fans are the nicest people on the planet! We enjoyed beverages and munchies, passed out name tags, chocolates, Eric fans, and he autographed photographs for everyone. A special thanks to Karen, Gary and Jane for making the event so nice and to Mr. James Blackman for allowing us to meet in the theater. Finally, thanks to Eric for making all of our day!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eric Kunze in Jesus Christ Superstar at Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities in Redondo Beach, April 22 - May 10, 2009

From Variety, Aug.6, 2003:
"When the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice rock opera made its groundbreaking transition from monster album to Broadway musical in 1971, Ben Vereen stole the show as Judas. In the majority of subsequent productions, Jesus has been routinely overshadowed by his betrayer. So the big news at the Wilshire is Christ's restoration from second banana to superstar, thanks to the outstanding voice and imposing presence of Eric Kunze in the title role."

From NewsObserver (North Carolina), Feb. 27, 2007:
"Eric Kunze's firm, smooth tone gives Jesus' emotions full vent, from the frustration in "What's the Buzz" to the tenderness of "Poor Jerusalem" and the anguish of "Gethsemane," a showstopper of mesmerizing power."

For more information and tickets:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Eric wins IRNE Award for Best Actor - Musical !!!

Congratulations Eric!

Winners have been announced for the 12th annual Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Awards, which were presented last night at the Boston Center for the Arts. 25 different stage productions were honored, with awards bestowed in 24 categories for Large and Small Theatres.
Among the notable acting winners were Ross Bickell, Jack Davidson, and Penny Fuller for their performances in Merrimack Rep's A Delicate Balance; Bianca Marroquin for her performances in North Shore Music Theatre's Bye Bye Birdie and the national tour of Chicago; Anna Deveare Smith for her solo performance Let Me Down Easy; Ken Howard for his solo performance in According to Tip; and Eric Kunze for his performances in Reagle Players' Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the tour of Whistle Down the Wind.

(from TheaterMania/Boston Metro)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Excerpts from North Carolina Theater's "Miss Saigon"

From Classical Voice of North Carolina:

Eric Kunze’s soulful portrayal of Chris, whom he also played on Broadway, is another warm and winning performance...With stellar performances of Jennifer Paz, Eric Kunze, and Kevin Gray and its outstanding supporting cast, the North Carolina Theatre’s gala presentation of Miss Saigon proves once again that the Raleigh-based regional theater can create must-see musicals that rival the best of the bus-and-truck series. Don’t miss it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER Breaks Kennedy Center House Record

Congratulations to Eric and the cast!!

The special return holiday engagement of THE MUSIC OF Andrew Lloyd Webber has broken the house record for the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. Grossing $650,997 for the week ending January 4, 2009, it was the second and final week of the two-week engagement.

The Washington Post raved, "Very impressive. The hits come crashing at you in an evening dedicated to crescendo and climax."

This special edition of the concert was devised by Andrew Lloyd Webber for this engagement. The Kennedy Center cast featured performers Shoshana Bean, Ron Bohmer, Tony Award nominee Liz Callaway, David Josefsberg, Eric Kunze, and Laurie Gayle Stephenson.