Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

From Maggi) Thanks to everyone who submitted questions for Eric recently. I will begin posting his answers as he gets to them. Here are the ones we have so far (in the order they were received):

Questions Part I:

What do you do for fun when you are not working on a show?
I go boating and spend time in Palm Springs

Are you planning to do another CD? If so, when can we hope to see it? We are wearing out the last one.
Yes - its in the works!

Will it be a Christmas CD?
No, but maybe in the next year or two

Have you ever wanted to write a musical?
No - not my thing.... maybe if I had an amazing idea.

Out of all your shows, which is your favorite song, and why?
Dont have one!

Do you hear us screaming after you finish a song, or should we scream louder? :-) Louder is always good. LOL No, I usually dont get to hear what is heard in the audience. But its nice to know you are out there!

I have tried to imagine what it's like to step out on stage and see a few thousand people waiting to hear you speak or sing. Could you describe what that feels like for you? Depends how prepared you are. The more prepared - the more fun and relaxed

When you perform in a small theater and the audience is close, is it hard to keep focused when someone is doing something distracting?
Yes - but its always good to keep us on our toes and concentrate

Questions Part II:

Are you and Gina (Feliccia) planning any more concerts together?
We are planning workshops, but no concerts at this time.

Have you ever considered doing Jekyl and Hyde? I think you'd be really great in the lead of that musical.
I'm not really familiar with it, but it is going on tour in the coming months with McCoy/Rigby productions starring Constantine Maroulis from American Idol. Its should be a great production.

You'd make a fabulous Phantom. Do you hope to do that someday?
Yes - I DO hope to play Phantom some day. Its in my 5 year plan ;-)

Between shows, do you still vocalize every day at home to keep in practice?
No, i try to rest vocally when Im not working and gear up a few weeks before I have the next show.

How do you feel about fans waiting for you at the stage door after performances?
I think its great - I just feel bad when I cant spend as much time as I would like!

What role that you have not played would you like to play?
Billy in "Carousel" is on my list...

Would you like someone to create an original musical theater role for you and what kind of role would you like it to be? That is in the works - its called "Brindlebeast" and its in the next phase of its development. More to come...

If you were not a performer, would you ever want to do a behind-the-scenes job--such as directing?
I have directed two pieces and it was very enjoyable. I like working with actors on that level as well as the technical aspect of putting together a show.

Where would you love to perform that you have not already been to?
Anywhere in Europe!!

What is your favorite food? Drink?
I have too many favorites - but I love Japanese food

What is the most unique and/or beautiful venue where you have performed?
The St Louis FOX theater is amazing, as well as The Kennedy Center in DC with Miss Saigon when I first joined the tour.

Where is your favorite place in the world?
St Barths Caribbean Island

When did you realize that you wanted to make singing/acting your career? Are you surprised at your success?
My senior year of High School. I'm constantly surprised and grateful to be working.

How do you keep balanced/grounded with all of your fame and success?
Easy - I don't have fame, and I have some success. ;-)

Will you be making more CDs??
(YES!! YES!!! YES!!!!)

What are some of your passions?
Architecture and the art of Real Estate

Do you ever get tired of doing the same show over and over again? How do you keep it fresh each night?
No - the pieces that I get to repeat often are ones that are GREAT pieces and very gratifying to do. I'm lucky that way.

Which role has been the most difficult for you to find access to or to play and why?
That would be "Whistle Down The Wind". The character of The Man is very tormented, mysterious to the audience, and under extreme circumstances -personally, mentally and physically. (sounds like the "other" Jesus character) ;-)
He only interacts with one character in the show, and that relationship is very delicate and complex. It was a very challenging, but ultimately rewarding piece on all levels - typical of Andrew Lloyd Weber!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Eric Interview on JCS Zone

While in Ottawa doing "Do You Hear the People Sing" recently, Eric did a phone interview with Andrew Simpson, of the Jesus Christ Superstar Zone, a website devoted to everything about that musical. With his permission, here is the article in full. You can also access the article on their website to make comments. (Registration is required.) The interview can be found here under "Database", "Interviews", "Fresh Blood". Thanks, Andy!

(Photo is from the Jesus Christ Superstar National Tour 2003 with Carl Anderson)

JCS Zone -- Eric Kunze Interview
Summary: Conducted by Simpson, following a performance of "Do You Hear the People Sing," a celebration of the music of Boublil and Schonberg consisting largely of selections from "Les Mis" and "Miss Saigon," featuring Kunze, Lea Salonga and Terrence Mann. Special thanks to Maggi, Eric's webmaster, for setting up this interview!

Q: When did you first hear JCS? What did you think?
A: I first heard of it... I can't remember how old I was but I was a young boy. My family used to watch the movie around Easter time. So, I grew up with Ted Neeley singing it in my head. We weren't a theatrical family. We didn't go to a lot of shows. I grew up on the beach -- being from San Diego. But that music was in our living room quite a bit. So, that was my introduction to musical theater.

Q: And since then you've played the role of Jesus so many times all over the country, both regionally and on tour. Does it ever get boring for you?
A: No. Not at all. I think I credit that to the material. I love it. It's challenging, but not overwhelmingly taxing on you. It's challenging, but when you hear the first chord of the show, you just go, you know? No matter how tired or sick you might be on any night, you just go out and do it.

Q: While we're on the subject, what's the most challenging part of playing Jesus of Nazareth?
A: That's a very hard question! I don't really know what the answer is. I mean it's... Jesus, you know? It can be a very taxing role vocally, if you're under the weather. But if you're healthy and ready to go, it's probably the most fun show you can do. It's just so fun to do.

Q: What's your favorite song from the show?
A: (Pauses in thought, then starts to sing) "I think you've made your point now..." "Could We Start Again, Please" is my favorite. It's a great song. It's underrated. It's sort of the alternative to "I Don't Know How to Love Him."

Q: Your thoughts on this -- why do you think JCS is still relevant and presented today?
A: I think it's because it's the greatest story ever told. I think that's it, really. It's the story, then the music and the lyrics. You know, even if there's a bad production of it, you can still get some good out of it. (Laughs) It's sort of like pizza in a way.

Q: Have you been influenced by the performances of previous actors, or do you generally try more to make the role your own?
A: Oh, I stole a lot of things from Ted Neeley. (Laughs) And I told him that when I met him on tour when we were in Nashville, I think it was. He came to see us for a day or two. Wonderful man, as everyone who has met him knows. When you hear something like that when you're young and impressionable, you tend to imitate that or borrow things. The first time I did the role, I think I was 25 and in St. Louis. I was worried about the short rehearsal process. So, learning the music, I just imitated what I remembered hearing. Eventually, I would make things my own. It has since grown and evolved. But that was my base. I think I still use some phrasing and inflections based on him. Why not?

Q: Wonderful that you brought up the St. Louis production. As Barry Dennen told us in a previous interview, he actually directed you in that production. What was it like working with him as a director?
A: As a director, he had a very special perspective. (Laughs) Not just as a director or just a director, but the history he has with the piece, not to mention the great stories he would share with you. So, we had the benefit of a director with a personal history with the piece, rather than a director who had to go and research everything. I remember one thing: We were rehearsing in these outdoor pavilions. And we were rehearsing, and I'm doing this song, and a thunderstorm started up! And leaves were blowing everywhere, and I thought that was cool. But he's a wonderful man to work with. Later on, as you know, I got to actually share the stage with him. Now, he didn't play Pilate to my Jesus. Of course, he had played that part on stage, but that's another story.

Q: Of course, you also starred in a national tour of the show from 2003-05 that is very familiar to JCS fans all over the U.S. and Canada. You must have been very surprised to get called in to replace the name draw on the revival tour. Were you informed of any of the circumstances, and if so, can you share what you heard with us here?
A: Yeah. I had a history with those producers. I had actually gone and auditioned for it, so they knew me and I was very lucky. I was also a temporary replacement until they got another "name" person in the role. Eventually, it turned out to me keeping the role. They liked what I was doing. About the circumstances... no, I didn't know a lot about what was going on. Things happened so fast. I think I had only a few days to get packed and ready to go. I had four days of rehearsal. I flew into Baltimore for a few days of rehearsal, then I opened in Boston. You know, I know the show so well that it was just a matter of learning the blocking, and a lot of it is -- with Jesus -- you just stand around, and the apostles are around you, and they just kind of move you around. (Laughs)

Q: How structured was the tour? Some reports have it that Really Useful was very strict about how the show should be performed.
A: Yeah... okay... I learned it the original way, I guess, so I really didn't stray too much from that. That show had a few different things that were specifically written for that -- you know, the ending of "Gethsemane" is different; there are a few other things that were, quote, "updated"; but those were done when the New York show went out. The whole thing where it drops down in "Gethsemane," that was a change our musical director made in the tour, you know, the part where Jesus goes: (Sings, in Balsamo style) "Alright...! I'll die...!" The little drop out was made on that tour.

Q: You worked with a line of extremely talented people on that tour. Can you give us some of your impressions of your fellow cast members, with special attention, of course, paid to Carl Anderson, Barry Dennen, and Danny Zolli?
A: Danny and I worked together a couple of times before that. We'd done Superstar twice before this one, so we were so excited to see each other again. I was excited to hear him sing Judas again. That was cool! And, of course, Carl -- going eye-to-eye with him... it still doesn't seem real to me. Looking into his eyes every night was a big thrill. You know, being a fan of the movie, it was like, "Did I really do that?" (Laughs) He was just a wonderful man and actor. He really raised the bar on the show. Also, Lawrence Clayton was great when he came in. We'd also done the show together before. We had a nickname -- a sort of inside thing -- for the tour. We called it the Love Tour. It was one of those things with that group of people... especially on the road, so much drama can happen. But here it was a very loving group of people. It was a very special time.

Q: Now you had the advantage of working with three very different men as Judas. Playing against Danny, Lawrence, or Carl, did your approach to the role of Jesus ever change?
A: The way the show is written, the roles of Judas, Mary, and Jesus are pretty well set, but all three were very different in how they played the role. That's the great thing about acting is that you get to work off of what gets thrown at you and that's fun. Natalie Toro was Mary throughout the tour. Carl was very... fatherly to us, I suppose you could say. He was like our "papa" on the tour, you know? And there was the little spitfire, Danny Zolli. So yeah, it definitely was an effective group of people to work with.

Q: Of course, the tour had its dark days as well. Do you remember where you were when you got the news that Carl had passed away?
A: Yeah, we were in Seattle. I believe he was doing less and less shows each week. It was a tough loss. We were his last cast. He was very proud of that show. I'm sure he was that way in the others he did, but he was open arms with us, and well-being, and wonderful.

Q: At the risk of asking a very loaded question, which productions did you enjoy more -- regional or the tour? Did you feel you had more freedom in one than in the other?
A: Wow! That is a loaded question. I think the last one I did -- the Love Tour -- would be my favorite. That group of people! Amazing.

Q: Speaking of tours, on an off-topic note, you worked on the U.S. tour of Whistle Down the Wind. One of our moderators wants to know, did Jim Steinman ever show up? If so, did you meet him and can you tell us what that was like?
A: Oh yes. Yes. He came to Hartford and let us know he was out there, so that was exciting. He also came backstage. I had no idea what to expect. He looked like your typical artist slash rock star. Very eccentric and cool. He said that he enjoyed the show, you know, the whole "good job" stuff.

Q: Well, that about wraps it up. Thank you for talking to us.
A: Thank you, Andy. It was my pleasure. It was good to see you again! [Simpson, who has been lucky enough to befriend Barry Dennen, was privileged to meet Barry, Danny Zolli (who was filling in for Carl Anderson), and Eric Kunze in person backstage when the tour passed through Ontario in 2003.--ed.] Thanks for coming to the show last night, and I look forward to talking to you again. I look forward to seeing this on the website, too. I have to say, honestly, I haven't thought about the show for years now, so this is kind of a cool trip back. I hope to do it again at some point. As you know, the rights are tied up with Broadway.

Q: Have you seen the Broadway revival? (NOTE: This interview was conducted in early May 2012. At this point, the Tony Awards appearance and the show's closure were not on the cards.--ed.)
A: No. I was in New York recently, but I went to see Porgy and Bess. If it's there throughout the summer, I'll definitely go and see it.

Q: You know, it's funny you mention the rights being tied up. I recently came very close to directing a concert version of JCS in my hometown with the Mississippi MUDDS [a local theater troupe], but I couldn't find a producer, so I had to pull the plug.
A: Well Andy, there's still lots of time in your life. You'll do it.

Q: Well, when I do, I'll be sure to invite some of the wonderful people whom I've met through the show to come and see my production of it -- you know, as a "thank you."
A: Yes, that would be cool. Keep me posted!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CD Countdown Questions and Answers

Dear Eric
I saw you for the first time in Joseph in Boston. I was overjoyed to read you are finally coming out with your first CD. How was that process for you? What made you decide to finally do it, and dare we hope for possibly more in the future?
Karine from Chelsea, MA

Hi Karine-
Yes- I have been meaning to get a CD out, but work always prevented me from spending enough time to do so. I hope to do another one in the next couple years for sure. I hope you like this one due out soon.  Thanks for coming to Joseph!

From Nancy, St. Louis, MO
What has been your favorite role to play, and why?
What has been your most challenging role to play and why?

Hi Nancy-
I have several favorite roles and shows but all for different reasons. Some for the challenge factor (Jesus), some for the fun (Joseph), and some for the material (Les Mis, Miss Saigon, Evita). They are all special in different ways!

Dear Eric,
Would you ever consider auditioning for the new Les Mis tour or for Phantom in the future?
Charlie and her two darling daughters in Fallon Nevada.

Charlie and Girls,
I would love to be involved with either of those shows at ANY time. They are wonderful pieces!! Keep your fingers crossed!

From Katherine, Houston, TX
Can u ask him out of all his hats which is his favorite?

I love my B-Day-Detroit-hat!!
:-) Eric

From Fletcher:
What are your fond memories of playing Chris on Broadway with Joan Almedilla and Marius in Les Miserables with Lea Salonga?

Hi Fletcher-
Joan was a beautiful Kim and person too. It was easy to fall in love with her every night.

Lea and I had a great time singing some of the most beautiful musical theater written, and she was a fantastic Eponine and a wonderful person as well. The funny thing about your question is that both Lea and Joan died in my arms every night, and that is my most vivid memory of them that I have... I guess it could be "fond". :-)

The "Saigon" stage door was across the street from David Letterman's theaters stage door, and we shared the street on which he would do his crazy segments. I always looked forward to that.

Dear Eric,
Can you talk about your experiences with the Brindlebeast project? What has been the process so far and why does the process interest you?

This has been an artists dream to be able to help create and work with such wonderful people on such an incredible piece of theater. The collaboration continues to grow as does our Brindlbeast "family", thanks to all of you who are supporting it. Our next work session will be in January, and then again in March where we will be presenting it to the VIP's of the industry. Here we go!

Dear Eric,
What ONE word would you use to describe your reaction to the news that Brindlebeast was being developed as a vehicle for you? Let’s go Brindlebeast!!!
Jeannine from NJ

There is a song in the show that my character sings called "Lucky Ones". When you hear it, it pretty much sums it up. Thanks Jeannine! Yes - GO BRINDLEBEAST !!

When you are on the road, what are the 3 things you make sure you bring with you, to remind you of home?
Posted by Anonymous

I don't know if I even bring three things,
but I do usually have my scarf with me that
my Mom knitted.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Questions Asked by Fans

These questions (and Eric's answers) are a result of a poll on the Eric Kunze fansite. Thank you to all the fans who wrote in. We couldn't get to every question, but hope you are happy with the result. And THANK YOU SO MUCH TO OUR DEAR ERIC, who took time out of his busy schedule to accommodate us.

How did you feel about living in NYC at such a young age and so far from family and how did you handle it? (At the age of 20, Eric was visiting New York on a study program from UC Irvine. He auditioned for and was cast as Marius in Les Miserables on Broadway.)


I was lucky to have one of my best childhood friends, Gina DeLuca, living there already. I immediately went into rehearsals for Les Mis, so I made friends quickly, particularly with Dann Fink (the father from "Whistle Down the Wind"). He took me under his wing and taught me the ropes of the business, so to speak. So I had a great support system. My family visited very often which was amazing. I would rent a car and go to the Connecticut coast. I liked to stay at beautiful Inns and walk the quaint villages to get some sanity, and pretend it was my California coast.
How did it come about that you got the part in Whistle Down the Wind? Did you hear about it and audition? Did they approach you first? How long before you knew you had the part? So many people have commented that they purchased the CD after the show and were so disappointed because they didn't like it as well as your version.

Well, I was literally the last person they auditioned. They saw hundreds of people over about six months, but I was never in town to go in. They generously flew me to London for three days, put me in a lovely hotel, and I had a private audition for Bill Kenwright ( the producer/director) musical supervisor etc... And they offered it to me there. By the time I returned home, my agents had everything worked out, and rehearsals started in two weeks! Timing is everything!
If you could choose any musical, other than ALW, which would you want to do?

Company or Sunday in the Park With Georg
What other interests, passions do you have off-stage?

I love to cook and play the piano!
What's the first thing you do when you return home from being on the road?

I open all the waiting mail/bills!
Do you have any kind of ritual you do backstage before going on?

No ritual. Just warm up the voice and drink an Emergen-C
How do you stay in such good physical shape?

I do work out about 3-4 times a week.
I've seen you perform in several shows and have wondered about how you prepare and perform your roles. You seem to pay attention to details but are creative at the same time. How do you go about preparing and how long do you take? Do you leave much room for on the spot creativity?

With "all sung" musicals, you are a bit more limited as far as your spontaneity. As an actor you are always listening and reacting truthfully, and that is always going to change in various ways, per moment, and per show.
Do you ever get nervous before a performance and if you do, how do you deal with your nerves?

Nerves are your friend. Use them to your advantage. :-)
Do you prefer roles for which the script already provides a historical background or "backstory" (Superstar, Joseph) or do you like to shape the backstory yourself (i.e. The Man in Whistle).

I think I prefer a character that is not known historically. As with Jesus, you are always being compared to what the person thinks he should look and act like etc.. I enjoyed the anonymity of "The Man" in that respect.
What roles would you decline to play and why?

Haven't been in the position to have to decline a role for whatever reason yet. :-)
What or who keeps you grounded?

My family and friends keep me grounded. I try to run on the beach at least two days a week. That really helps too.
I have read they took you from the tennis team to be in a play in high school. Do you still enjoy playing?

Yes, I was pulled from the tennis courts, which I love to still play.
When did you realize you wanted to make singing your life?

Singing was a fluke. I had no intentions for it, but it was sometime in college when I decided to give it a go!
Is there any role that you have not done yet that you would love to do in the future?

The Phantom is a role I would like to play.
What has been a major highlight for you in your career?

Working with Jerry Lewis in Damn Yankees.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would this be?

I love Italy and South America, the excitement of touring on the road, hotels and airports.
What is your favorite kind of food? Your drink of choice?

Guacamole and margaritas!
Would you ever want to do a long-term run on Broadway?

I would love to do a show in NY again. :-)
Would you ever want to do a movie? If so, would you consider doing a movie that was not a musical?

I dont have a desire at this point to do movies.( I know nothing about that medium, or making them).
Re 'Window Pains'…. I am curious about how that concept came about and how it developed? How did they choose the numbers they will be featuring? I really like that they are offering a different look and even experience to musical theater from a neat point of view…"
Our little skit is shaping up very nicely. I'm proud of it actually. It's unique
and sweet. We wanted to focus on the subtlety of music theater, and the
appreciation that music can bring through simple and real moments and

You can submit your questions to me via email: