Passion and Perseverance
Award-Winning Performer with a Career Spanning Over Two Decades
Interview by Chris Duncan
Spanning over two decades, Nathan Pinnell’s career arc from an enthusiastic ensemble member to the esteemed Dance Captain in ‘Chicago’ and beyond is a testament to his talent and unwavering dedication to the craft. Recently Chris Duncan had a chance to interview Nathan. Through his reflections and insights, we delve deeper into the experiences that have shaped his remarkable career journey in dance and theatre.
Nathan’s initial steps into the professional world were marked by significant learning experiences, especially during his time in the ensemble cast of ‘Chicago’ back in 2008-2009. He says, “I learnt so much about Bob Fosse’s legacy being in his presence.” This period was instrumental in shaping his understanding of the nuances of performance art. Working under the guidance of Gary Chryst, Nathan was not just performing steps but being molded into an artist who would carry the legacy of a dance style renowned worldwide. His journey in ‘Chicago’ laid the groundwork for a career that would be marked by a deep appreciation for tradition and innovation in equal measure. His interactions with other talented artists, such as Caroline O’Connor and Steven Grace, further enriched his artistic outlook, adding layers of complexity and depth to his performances.
Throughout his career, Nathan has portrayed a plethora of characters, each bringing forth a different aspect of his artistic prowess. From embodying the vivacious ‘Carlos’ in ‘Legally Blonde’ at London’s West End to stepping into the shoes of ‘Baby John’ in ‘West Side Story’, Nathan’s adaptability has been a hallmark of his career.
Nathan acknowledges the challenges and growth each part brought him. His portrayal of Tulsa in ‘Gypsy’, which earned him the Best Supporting Actor award, is a vivid example of his ability to delve deep into a character, bringing out its essence on stage. These performances not only showcase his range as an actor and dancer but also his commitment to continually pushing the boundaries of his craft.
Ascending to the role of Dance Captain, Nathan embraced the complexities of leadership in the dynamic world of theater. He describes his leadership philosophy: “A good dance captain is someone who leads with a nurturing hand but also is firm enough to hold the floor in front of a room of professionals.”
This approach appears to be a delicate balance, cultivated through years of experience and learning. Nathan’s leadership style is characterized by his emphasis on creating a supportive yet disciplined environment. He recognizes the importance of clear communication and mutual respect in fostering a space where creativity can thrive. His ability to inspire and guide his peers reflects his own journey, rich with lessons learned from mentors and experiences alike.
Nathan’s transition to Dance Captain for ‘Chicago’ marked a pivotal moment in his career, signifying not just a change in role but a deeper involvement in the artistic process. Reflecting on this, he says, “My responsibility went from performing my ensemble plot correctly to maintaining a legacy that so many before me have passed on.” This change brought with it a profound appreciation for the production’s history and its ongoing legacy. Nathan’s role as Dance Captain goes beyond teaching steps; it involves the stewardship of a cultural treasure, ensuring that each performance remains true to its roots while also breathing new life into it. His understanding of the nuances of the show, from the choreography to the underlying themes, is indicative of his deep connection with the production.
Nathan’s journey has been marked not only by artistic achievements but also by personal battles, particularly during his time in ‘Dusty: The Original Pop Diva’. He candidly shares, “Most days I would have panic attacks during a song or scene, and it felt soul destroying.” His vulnerability in discussing these challenges sheds light on the often-overlooked aspect of mental health in the performing arts. Nathan’s resilience in the face of anxiety and his proactive approach to seeking help is a powerful message about the importance of acknowledging and addressing mental health issues. His experience is a reminder that behind every performance are the human struggles and triumphs of the artists.
Nathan’s role as an understudy in ‘Strictly Ballroom’ showcases his exceptional ability to adapt and prepare for a range of characters. He provides insight into his process, advising, “Always put choreography on your body first then notate after. If it’s programmed in your physicality, then you can focus on other things.” His methodical approach, combining physical practice with detailed notation, is a testament to his professionalism and dedication. Nathan emphasizes the importance of understanding every aspect of a character, from their movements to their motivations, ensuring he is ready to step into any role at a moment’s notice. This discipline and attention to detail have been crucial in his ability to seamlessly transition between diverse characters, maintaining the integrity of each performance.
Apart from his on-stage accomplishments, Nathan is deeply invested in nurturing the next generation of performing artists. His roles as a Tertiary Coordinator and Elite Coordinator reflect his commitment to education and mentorship. He passionately shares his knowledge and experiences, guiding young performers on their artistic journeys. His advice to aspiring artists is grounded in realism yet brimming with encouragement. He urges them to embrace hard work, broaden their skills, and immerse themselves in the world of theater. Nathan’s role as an educator is an extension of his belief in the transformative power of the arts and his desire to contribute to the growth and development of future talents.
Nathan’s journey, punctuated by both triumphs and trials, is a source of inspiration. He continues to captivate audiences and mentor aspiring artists with artistic integrity and excellence.
NATHAN PINNELL – BIO
Nathan is an award-winning performer with a career spanning over two decades across all facets of the industry. His theatre credits include Dance Captain, Swing, Cover Production Tenor and Dialect Coach in Singin’ In The Rain, Dance Captain and Featured Ensemble in Hugh Jackman: Broadway To Oz, Dance Captain, Swing, Cover Billy Crocker in Anything Goes, Liam Lamb in Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom where he understudied and performed Ken Railings, Nathan Starkey and Clarry Welch, Carlos in Legally Blonde (Savoy, West End), Baby John in West Side Story, Cover Mary Sunshine in Chicago (Green Room Award), Young Tom in Dusty: The Original Pop Diva, Ensemble and Swing in We Will Rock You, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Cover Jack Scott and Ryan Evans in High School Musical and Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision.
For the Production Company, Nathan played Chris Bell in The Boy From Oz, Tulsa in Gypsy (Best Supporting Actor – Theatre People Pro Choice Awards) and was in Promises Promises, 42nd Street, Sweet Charity and The Music Man.