WINTER PARK — Natalie Cordone is a very busy lady these days, but it sure doesn’t hurt to be doing what she absolutely loves to do: acting, singing, and performing.
A noted singer and actress, Natalie is now performing on stage at The Winter Park Playhouse in the world premiere of Paul Gilger’s musical “Gigolo: The New Cole Porter Revue,” and she can also be seen as a soloist in Rhythm and Rhapsody: The Gershwin Concert Experience with Orlando composer and performer Michael Andrew.
Natalie will be starring with the Ft. Wayne Symphony in 2019.
An audience favorite, Natalie has been entertaining audiences from Central Florida to New York in productions that range from classical music theater to opera and cabaret.
Voted “Best Featured Actress in a Musical” by The Orlando Sentinel in 2017 for her performance in the Playhouse’s production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein revue Some Enchanted Evening, she’s happy to be back there in “Gigolo.”
And speaking of the Playhouse, Natalie will be back next month to premiere her latest solo cabaret, “Baubles, Bangles, and Beads” as part of The Playhouse’s ongoing Spotlight Cabaret Series.
Her cabaret is on Sept. 5-6 at 7:30 p.m., with the Playhouse’s musical director, Christopher Leavy, accompanying her on piano.
Even with that super busy schedule, Natalie graciously found the time to talk to Freeline Media about her work.
What Is Natalie Working on These Days?
Freeline Media: In “Gigolo: The New Cole Porter Revue,” you play a woman who seems to need a stiff one — err, drink, that is! Did you have fun playing a character who is coming off the wagon, and heads right for the bar?
Natalie Cordone: I couldn’t have asked for better material than I have in this show. First, Cole Porter is obviously a genius. How often do you get to play with lyrics like, “I don’t mean the kind [of man] who belongs to a club/ but the kind that has a club that belongs to him”?
And Paul Gilger has developed a role that has so many wins — my character is wickedly funny, sings glorious melodies, and has a built in dance solo. Plus, I see her as a strong woman who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants, and she won’t let a little thing like a hangover get in her way.
When Paul approached me with his new idea of my opening solo being, “Make It Another Old Fashioned” and then deteriorating into a Pabst Blue Ribbon by Act II, I started beaming. I’m totally tickled by the idea of putting on a gorgeous gown and then making a complete fool out of myself.
FM: “Gigolo” is unique in that all of the characters’ thoughts and feelings come from the classic lyrics of Cole Porter. How did you work with director Roy Alan to flesh out your character and fully embody this woman?
NC: I’ve had the pleasure of working with Roy as a director in over a dozen productions and he has been a mentor of mine for many years. He’s always full of fun and unique ideas for character development, but I love it when he gets that special “twinkle” in his eye.
With the European Countess, I think we did a great job of bouncing ideas off of each other. He gave me great blocking and choreography and then gave me lots of freedom to play and make it my own.
FM: In your view, does this play have a message about how men and women view love, romance — and betrayal?
NC: I think more than doling out messages about the male and female perspective, this show does a great job of showing how individuals handle romance in different ways.
When you have actors as talented as my colleagues (Melissa Minyard, Zach Nadolski, Kelly Morris Rowan and Alyssa Flowers) to work with, their nuanced performances bring unique points of view to life. I credit each of them with using Porter’s incredible material to find the humor, truth and vulnerability in each moment in the musical.
FM: You have your own solo cabaret coming up at The Winter Park Playhouse on Sept. 5-6. Tell us about that.
NC: My latest show is called “Baubles, Bangles and Beads.” I’m supremely lucky that I spend most of my work life in sequins, rhinestones and 4-inch heels.
I realize that this isn’t exactly “business casual,” so this show tells the tale of how I’ve avoided sitting behind a desk all day.
It’s been fun looking back and choosing songs that represent these milestones in my life. Just don’t tell anyone that I spend most of my time in sweat pants.
FM: Agreed! Lastly, how do you like the theater, cabaret, and performance art scene in Orlando, and what are the opportunities like here for artists like yourself?
NC: I feel extraordinarily blessed to have worked with burgeoning independent theaters to behemoths like the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Orlando Shakespeare Theatre. I love that my work here has been so varied.
I also met my business partner, Shawn Kilgore, when we were cast together in the musical “Baby” at the Winter Park Playhouse. We formed our company, Cordone & Kilgore, and have been writing and touring together for more than six years now. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
So be sure to join Natalie for an evening of shimmer, glitz and bling at “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” the ideal opportunity to check out her wonderful singing talent and the unique blend of style and humor she brings to her work.
The cabaret is on Sept. 5-6 at The Winter Park Playhouse at 711 Orange Ave., Winter Park. General admission tickets are $20 plus a one drink minimum.
Once sold out, “Standing Room Only” tickets can be purchased for $10. Seating is limited and advance reservations are recommended. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. show.
And catch “Gigolo” at the Playhouse, which continues through Sunday, Aug. 19.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Of Cats And Wolves.” Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.