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BWW Interviews: LION KING Tour - Nick Cordileone Talks about How He Got the Role and Life on the Road

THE LION KING and all of its theatrics has won many awards and words of praise throughout the years. As life on the road can be challenging and hard, actor Nick Cordileone enjoys every minute of it as he portrays Timon night after night all over North America with The Lion King. His fellow cast members and support staff are the family that he shares with his 12 year old daughter as she travels on this journey with him. Broadway World caught up with Nick as he prepared for his visit to San Antonio.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got the role of Timon in THE LION KING?

I was born in San Diego, California and since then I've lived all over; every climate you can imagine. I lived in Minneapolis and I moved to Phoenix, Arizona and I've lived in Flagstaff where I had all four seasons, moved back to San Diego for several years, worked in an ensemble in San Diego for many years. Then my wife and I decided we wanted to move to New York. She was going to start graduate school for educational theater and I said, "Well, I'm an actor, let's move to New York. Sounds great." So we moved to New York and we've lived there for the last nine years and been doing a lot of regional theater, a lot of classical and in between shows I would work as a reader for a casting agent and one afternoon they said, "Hey, would you help us out with THE LION KING auditions?" I said, "Yeah, sure, that'd be fun." And I got to read all the different parts when people came in to audition. I got to be everyone from Nala to Mufasa to Scar to Timon and Pumbaa and shortly into the auditions the casting director said, "Hey, they might be interested in seeing if this is something that you're interested in. Let's see how that goes." So for the next month and a half, I was just there at auditions reading all the different parts and learning a little bit about the show myself. At the end of this audition process, I got to perform the whole day in front of Julie Taymor and at the end of the day they said, "Get ready for your life to change 'cause you're going on tour." I started in 2010 about 4 ½ years ago.

Has it been hard for family life?

I wouldn't say hard. It's definitely something that needs to be accommodated for. My wife lives in the city and teaches at NYU and my daughter and I are out on tour and I homeschool her. She's 12. But, we make it so that we're never apart for longer than a couple of weeks. Three to four weeks is the longest we can go without going stir crazy without our family together.

You will be in San Antonio throughout the holidays. What are your plans?

We've been playing it fast and loose a little bit. A group of our cast is living near one and other, some of us together as roommates and some of us just across the street. So, we're planning on having a big holiday celebration. Family going to be flying in to visit us there. That happens a lot where family members that are nearby will swing by and we have transient nomad holidays. When we get to a city we have a good sometimes four weeks to sometimes eight or nine weeks where we get to really put down some roots and we have a kitchen and learn the city and the personality of the city and all that so we're very fortunate.

The people you perform with every night are really family.

Absolutely. Coming off of Thanksgiving, it just shows you how much of an extended family we create on the road. We are like a little family in each city and we get to learn a lot about where we are. The constant, the thing that makes it so much fun to be on tour is that we are a family and that part doesn't change. You can count on your cast mates as, like you said, family members, and they are great. They're all experts, from the artisans that are in the puppet department who can fabricate a complete 50 pound Pumbaa costume from scratch to the wardrobe who can hand crochet a little zebra jumpsuit to my make-up artist who does three of the most beautiful painted faces in the show one after the other night after night to all of the performers and dancers and singers who are the top of their game. It's a joy to go to work every night.

When you are playing Timon, you have to be able to move around with the puppet every night. Did you have trouble learning how to control that?

It's not difficult with practice. You start to learn what the puppet can do and what it looks best doing and we got a great note just recently, some of the creative came, that said, "You're not a slave to the puppet. You make it do your show." It's a tool to help you tell the story and they're really well designed. My puppet is connected at my feet so I don't have to think about moving my feet. The arms are just extensions of my arms. I gesture the way I would gesture. It becomes a funnel for energy and it's like holding a microscope up to everything by looking at it through the puppet. They're really, really well designed. It becomes second nature where you're not having to think too much about your movements. You're just thinking about how you're telling your story.

Have you ever had any malfunctions while onstage with the puppet?

Oh, definitely. You do have two foot extensions coming off your feet so it would be like walking around in scuba gear with your flippers out there. I've caught my foot on something and I did a forward roll in the puppet. That was unexpected one time and sometimes, the rod that connects your foot will break or a string will break so something will hang differently then you're expecting. But it's all true with anything in live theater. Here's comes a new scene that I have to make look like it is not (an accident). My daughter loves for me to come home every night and asks, "Did anything out of the ordinary happen?"

If you had not gotten into show business, what would you have done?

I'm a big cinephile and I love movies and pop culture. I would have loved to have found a way to make a living either reviewing or creating pieces of pop culture. I'm a comic book fan. I would love to go into editing comic books. But, probably another creative outlet like that where you get to share stories and touch people's lives whether it was performing or not. Some sort of side step.

What advice do you have for people thinking about getting into show business?

It's a backwards piece of advice. Somebody told me, "You've gotta build up your experience library which is life experience not necessarily performance experience. It's filling your life and your brain with all that life has to offer where you're dipping your foot into the pool of all of these other things so you have stuff to draw on when you're performing. I thought that was a smart way of thinking that, "Oh yeah, if you're going to spend your life holding mirrors up to reality, you probably need to have a true image of reality as you can get." Go out and live a real life as opposed to if you are just sitting only reading Stanislavsky or just doing conservatory work.

The LION KING plays at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas from December 10, 2014-January 4, 2014. Tickets are going fast so go to to find your tickets today.


Article reprinted with permission from

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68 reviews, average rating: (4.8 Stars)

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