Those who go to see a show in the West End will come away full of praise for the cast, and in particular, the incredible vocal performances they deliver. Musical theatre is about more than just the singing however; dancing and acting skills are just as important, and this ability to do all three to the professional level expected by the audience is why many fans rate trained stage performers over celebrity guest names and pop stars, etc in the West End. Matilda cast member Jonathan Cordin is a dancer above all else, but has performed in two West End shows and has not only proven himself a highly valuable member of the team, but also serves to demonstrate that song, dance and acting are all important aspects in a musical and on an equal par to one another. This talented individual is a beneficial addition to the West End and has been chosen as the featured ensemble member for this week’s edition of In Profile.
Jonathan Cordin is now a familiar face in the West End, having pursued his dream of a successful career in theatre all the way from Nottinghamshire. He grew up in the East Midlands, in his home town of Mansfield, and discovered a love of the stage from a very young age. He began dancing from the age of six and attended Devas School of Dance, Drama and Fitness, a performing arts centre based in Ashfield, Notts. He took classes in Ballet, Tap, Modern, Freestyle, Rock and Roll, Musical Theatre, Commercial/Street Dance and Drama there and has been described as a ‘dedicated student’ by principal Shelly Pitman, who has run the school since 1992. He later went on to be accepted into Cambridge Performing Arts College at Bodywork Company Dance Studios. Whilst in training on the Musical Theatre course, he was chosen as Lead Vocalist in the Irving Berlin Tribute, danced in Wild Horses and was a featured dancer in a production of Sweet Charity.
One of his earliest professional appearances post-graduation was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010. He performed in the show, When in Rome, as part of the company Cambridge Fools, which was comprised of past and present students of Cambridge University and Bodywork Performing Arts School. He played the role of ‘shy and naïve’ Roman Quintas in the production, which billed itself as ‘world torn between Ancient Roman culture and 90s pop’ and received favourable reviews from the Fringe critics.
A stint in panto came after that, with Cordin appearing in Dick Whittington at the Towngate Theatre, Basildon. He performed as a member of the ensemble and covered the role of the Dame, played by Peter Brad-Leigh, in a cast which also featured Simon Fielding, Jake Addley, Andrew Piper and Sophie Ladd.
He was then cast in his first West End show after that, albeit not actually appearing in the West End. He joined the UK tour of Dirty Dancing, which first launched in September 2011 – two months after the musical closed in the West End. Cordin was a Swing in the touring production and performed alongside Paul-Michael Jones and Jill Winternitz as leads Johnny Castle and Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman. The two continued in their starring roles when the production transferred back into the West End in 2013, filling the gap left at the Piccadilly Theatre by the early closure of the Spice Girl’s musical, Viva Forever!, and so too did Cordin. His continued role as a Swing in Dirty Dancing marked his West End début, and he enjoyed his first experience of the ‘Big Time’ with the popular show, which ran from July 2013 to February 2014, before the show closed once again and embarked on a second tour.
The experience was somewhat marred however by an injury to his knee in October 2013, while still appearing in Dirty Dancing. He suffered a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while dancing, and underwent an operation earlier this year to fix it following a consultation at Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre, Chesterfield. His knee completely healed with the help of physiotherapy rehabilitation, and he was thankfully given the all-clear to begin rehearsals for his second West End show.
This was to be the award-winning musical, Matilda, which remains one of the most popular shows in town since first opening at the Cambridge Theatre in October 2011. The RSC production transferred into the West End following an acclaimed 12-week run in Stratford-Upon-Avon. He appears now as part of the new company, which saw Craig Els take over as the formidable headmistress Miss Trunchbull. Cordin is a Swing in the show, covering the male ensemble roles, and is 1st Cover to Michael Wormwood. The new cast’s opening night was on 9th September 2014, and he was fortunate enough to be on for Michael for their première performance. He appears alongside fellow Bodywork graduate Ashleigh Drew, who is also a Swing in the show.
Other theatre credits include featuring as a dancer on the UK tour of Little Belter, starring petite powerhouse singer Elouise, which followed the show’s residency at Madame JoJo’s in London.
Jonathan Cordin is back in the West End where he belongs and many audiences will benefit from his presence in Matilda. The 23-year performer is a wonderful talent, and one who will hopefully remain n the West End for many more years to come.
You can follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Jono_Cordin
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Saturday 26th September 2014