|Channeling my inner Simba|
|Nick Cordileone playing Timon on stage|
I was lucky enough to score an interview with Nick Cordileone who plays everyone’s favorite meerkat, Timon. Check out our interview below:
Thank you so much for taking time to interview with us. First up, what made you want to pursue a career as a stage actor?
I knew from a very early age that story telling spoke to my core. I couldn’t fall asleep until I knew how Banner and the Hulk were going to fare week to week on T.V. I imagined flying Airwolf to school every morning. My dad and I would fabricate Indian Jones’ signature outfit, complete with bull whip. I loved pretend, as most kids do, but it was always the stories that resonated with me. As soon as I learned of a profession where you could become anyone and go anywhere I was hooked.
The Lion King has been touring for years. What makes one performance feel memorable or stand out when a show is this long-running?
One of the joys of this art form is the balance between routine and discovery. Lion King is a story that we know inside and out. We memorize lines, learn choreography, and develop consistency over the course of not just 8 shows a week, but, for some of us, years and years. But the beauty is that the nightly collaboration between cast, crew, orchestra, and audience is completely unique every time. And no matter how many repetitions there are, every night Timon and Pumbaa meet Simba for the first time. We set benchmarks for the truth of the given circumstances of each scene and then have the freedom and flexibility to navigate any fluctuations from night to night. It’s like a tightrope!
The show utilizes actors and hollow puppets. How do you balance your own acting and
emoting with the use of the puppet?
The puppet is both a magnifying glass and a funnel. It is a way to focus energy. Julie Taymor calls it the double event. For each of us there are 2 performances happening simultaneously. The audience is free to watch either and ultimately, if we do our jobs well, the performances combine almost subliminally.
My daughter, as well as many other children, dreams of being on the stage one day. What advice could you give them, as well as their parents, to see that dream come to fruition?
I would encourage both parents and young ones to be open to opportunities that arise while feeling free to make their own. There are so many ways to exercise your talents. Youth Theatre, Community Theatre, school, reading plays with friends. Any time we engage with art, there is a chance for growth. I’ve been fortunate to carve out a career doing what I love and I think a lot of it has to do with being open to being surprised. I never set out what it had to look like.
I have heard that you travel with your daughter and actually home school her on the road. Can you tell me a little bit about that experience and a typical day for a touring family?
It has been great. Hero is 14 and started touring with me about 5 years ago. My wife Amy teaches at NYU and can schedule her workload to facilitate popping out to meet us wherever we happen to be. We have online lessons. Sometimes flash videos, sometimes a taped lecture. The best part has been how serendipitously our studies and travels have lined up. We studied volcanoes when the show was in Hawaii, pueblos in New Mexico, Jamestown in Virginia. It has been uncanny how well our curriculum has lined up with the tour, just by chance. Now, we also take full advantage of wherever we happen to be. Adding to our course work with our unique situation.
We write a lot about Disney on this site so I have to ask you some Disney related questions…Besides Lion King, what is your absolute favorite Disney movie and why?
I adore Mulan. I love the courage she shows. The art is beautiful. All of the voice talent is so strong, particularly Miguel Ferrer who will be so missed.
If you could belt out any Disney song on stage, which would be your go to?
I Wanna Be Like You. I used to work as a singing waiter and that was my favorite song to sing.
Finally, being a busy touring actor, how do you make the idea “Hakuna Matata” work for you in your daily life?
Well, not unlike what I described for the show, we try to have equal parts routine and flux. We work to control what we can and then enjoy what comes at us unexpectedly. It has worked pretty well for our family so far.
Tickets are available at the PPAC Box Office (located at 220 Weybosset Street in downtown Providence), online at www.ppacri.org or by calling (401) 421-ARTS (2787). Box Office Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. , Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and two hours prior to curtain times on performance days. Premium Ticket Packages, which include prime seat locations, a commemorative souvenir program, and an exclusive merchandise item, are also available. Orders for groups of ten (10) or more may be placed by contacting Paul Hiatt at email@example.com or (401) 574-3162, Monday through Friday, 9A to 5P.