When Nick Cordero got the call that he had landed the role of the mobster Cheech in the new Broadway musical Bullets Over Broadway, one of the show’s producers got on the phone and told him that the role would change his life. “And he was right,” says Cordero. For one, the actor can add “Tony nominee” to his resume. “It’s a great story that asks some interesting questions about art, morality and artistic integrity in the framework of a comedy,” says Cordero. “It’s a dream role.”
Cordero grew up seeing theater with his mother in his native Hamilton, Ontario. He found his creative side performing with buddies doing an air band version of Fresh Prince and Deejay Jazzy Jeff’s “Nightmare on My Street” when he was eight. “It went off swimmingly,” he recalls. “Parents called my mum for days saying what a great job we did.” When he was 10, a trip to see a production of Les Miserables sealed the deal. He turned to his mother and declared, “This is what I want to do.” She replied “It’s the hardest thing you could have chosen and I support you all the way.”
Cordero studied theater at Ryerson University in Toronto and eventually moved to New York City, where he performed Off-Broadway in The Toxic Avenger and made his Broadway debut in Rock of Ages in 2012. He continues to be in awe that he’s part of the Bullets ensemble and originating a part written by Woody Allen. “It’s an unbelievable role,” he says. “I get to do a gangster tap number, drive a car onstage and shoot people in the name of higher artistic morals. I couldn’t be happier.”
Cordero recently recounted his jam packed day, filled with not one but two Today show appearances and a very cool hang with the Bullets cast at their next door post-theater joint.
I got up, had a shower and made some really, really strong coffee, which I’m known to do. Since I’d be singing on live television in a couple hours, I warmed up. I did some vocalizations as much as I could without waking up the neighbors. I come from a rock singing background and my warm up can be unconventional. It sounds like a dying cat like EEEEEEEEEEEEEWOWWWWWWWW. But it does the trick. It’s Steven Tyler kind of stuff.
I had a car waiting outside. But when I got in, I learned the driver didn’t really know where he was going. He took Riverside Drive all the way from the 190s to Midtown which was a little frustrating. But we got there in time. And I had to stop off at Duane Reade and get some razors.
When I got to the Today show, we did a little rehearsal. So by the time it was time to do the broadcast at 8:40, I wasn’t really that nervous. Basically you’re just doing the performance for the crowd of people at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. But when Zach [Braff] said, “don’t think about millions of people watching,” for a split second my mind went to actually how many people would be seeing us live on television. But I realized, I can’t think about that right now because we were about to go live. So I quickly erased that from my mind and thought about doing the number and the people right in front of us. The crowd was really supportive and cheery.
We did the number, [“T’aint Nobody's Business”]. It went really well and we were all really happy. The response was great. People went right from 30 Rock to the box office to buy tickets.
After the Today show performance, we waited around. Then Zach and I were on Kathie Lee and Hoda for a little segment, which was really, really fun. The day before, I sang at a gala for Second Stage at Terminal 5. And after rehearsal for that show, I went to Saks where my friend helped me pick out an outfit so I was wearing new clothes.
After the broadcast, I got in a cab and visited with the manager who I just hired. It felt good to make that decision. My manager works out of The Players Club. It’s a really inspiring place. I love all the portraits and the history of the building is incredible.
My manager’s office is right around the corner from a great French restaurant called L’Express where I ate a really good lobster quiche. The restaurant is in a big open space with a lot of light pouring in. In the middle of the afternoon, there weren’t too many people there. I just sat and collected my thoughts. Those moments are few and far between these days, so when I get them it’s nice to do it over a meal. I like being by myself and reflecting. I also like going to movies by myself.
I got in a cab, went to the theater and napped for a little before our show. I especially had to nap because I had been up since 5 in the morning. I tend to get some shuteye when I can before a show. It helps relax me. Sometimes I wander around the theater for a little bit and chat. I hang out with the wardrobe guys a lot. I live in the Heights, so if I’m downtown during the day, I don’t like to go all the way back uptown. So I usually go to the theater and hang out. I share a dressing room with Lenny Wolpe [who plays Julian Marx]. He’s a great roommate and we get along really well. As far as decorating, we haven’t really done too much yet. I’ve been little busy so I don’t have time to go and buy the carnations. But I look forward to doing that.
Just before half hour, I stretch. I have some knee exercises that I’ve been doing to make sure everything’s in place. I do a lot of running around, stomping and tapping during the show so I’ve got to be careful with my knees. I do a little light workout in the dressing room and also add the vocal warm up that I did earlier this morning. I also drink Throat Coat tea and eat Ricola.
There are two Pomeranians in the show, Trixie and Rocco. I love dogs but never had one. So at intermission I played with the dogs. Trixie is doe-eyed and chilled out. But Rocco’s chewing his feet half the time. They’re so well trained. Their dog trainer is Bill Berloni and he’s a remarkable guy. He had a big year with Annie, our show and a bunch of other shows he’s working on. Or sometimes at intermission I hang out with the musicians and the orchestra. There are some cool guys down there. I have some original music that hopefully I’m going to start working on with some of these guys in the pit.
When the curtain comes down, it’s pretty much back to Nick. I mean, it takes a minute to towel off and get back to yourself. But that happens pretty quickly.
After the show we went next door to Angus McIndoe. A lot of the cast likes to have food, drinks and hang out. It’s such a great cast. We love each other very much. Angus McIndoe is sort of our living room. It’s close, convenient and a nice atmosphere. There are two floors and we’re the top floor kind of people. Nate behind the bar has good service. It’s a good hang. I usually have a burger and fries and a beer.
There was a time where we used to be able to get the cord to the stereo, plug in our phones and play music, which we really enjoyed. But I think Angus caught wind of it and made it stop. I’m hoping one day we’ll convince him to give us the cord back because we like DJing. We’d play funk music, old school soul music and maybe a little dance music to get a party atmosphere going on. Sometimes we’d clear the chairs to make room to dance. Angus, like any bar owner, I’m sure, is not into giving control of his establishment to a bunch of crazy performers. I don’t blame him, but maybe one day he’ll see the light.
We have early shows on Tuesdays so I hopped on the subway and headed back up to the Heights where I live. I like taking taxis, but they get a little expensive. Depending on the time of day, it’s easier to get in the subway and just take the express on uptown.
I had some tea before bed. It usually helps me fall asleep. And I watched Charlie Rose. I’ve been watching him on a daily basis for as long as I can remember. He’s got such a broad range of guests on his program and is such a character. I’ve learned so much from that show over the years. It’s incredible. Also, his website is so user friendly. All his content is on his site for free, so it’s just a wealth of information. It keeps me up to date.
After Charlie Rose, it’s lights out. Charlie’s soothing voice usually does the trick to help me sleep. Night night.