‘My theatre went dark’: Amanda Kloots on loving and losing actor Nick Cordero

When you’re on Broadway and suddenly find out that your show is closing, you feel this wave of sadness. As a cast member, there was nothing you could have done to save it. You didn’t write the script; you didn’t call the shots. You just had to show up, and smile, and dance, and perform, and give it your all every day. Your cast has become like your family, the theatre like your home, and your dressing room like your own personal bedroom in that house, your space filled with photos, cards, and memories. After your last show, you have to take that all down, pack everything into a box, and walk out of the theatre as it goes dark.

Closing a show had happened to me too many times. When Bullets over Broadway closed in 2014, I was devastated. The show had brought me so much joy, distraction, and confidence while dealing with my divorce. It was a stable paycheck for a job I enjoyed, and I had formed a family from that cast. It had also brought me Nick. The show closing just four months after it opened didn’t feel fair. I felt as if I had lost everything I had just gained, and I was so worried about what would come next.

Nick, on the other hand, accepted it right away. He told me that when a show closed, he was sad, por supuesto, but he also viewed it as a sign that it was time to move forward, to see what came next. He was the type of person who – once he had achieved something – ticked off that box and began thinking of the next dream. So while I cried as I packed up my dressing room and left the theatre for the last time, Nick held his head high as he cleared his and walked out of the stage door ready for whatever came next.

When Nick was fighting Covid, I realised his room had become my dressing room, the nurses and doctors my cast, and the hospital our theatre. On the day he died, we stood as a family in a circle around his hospital bed, esperando, sobbing. We tried to calm ourselves as much as we could as the minutes ticked by. We had expected Nick to pass quickly, but his numbers were staying stable, despite his being disconnected from most of the machines. I wanted to tell the staff to stop so we could have more time, one more chance to save him. Pero en lugar, I watched as they took him off the last machine, the ventilator, and wheeled it away. Without it, he wouldn’t be able to breathe.

Después, I slowly moved around Nick’s room, taking down everything I had placed there over the last three months. There were cards and letters from people all over the world, poster-sized photos of us on the walls, three daily devotional books I had been reading, speakers to play him music, y su 2020 vision board. There was nothing else I could do now but put everything in a box and walk out as my theatre went dark.

I felt so defeated. I had lost.

I had given this fight everything in me, but I had lost.

The days after Nick died are foggy. I wasn’t in denial, but it just didn’t feel like he was gone. It seemed like just another time that I wasn’t allowed to visit the hospital for a few days. It would take a bit of time before the pain set in, and then the grief. It’s still setting in, months later. All I really felt at first were just defeat and overwhelming sadness.

I wouldn’t have survived the week without my family. My mom and Nick’s mom helped me with our son Elvis, and my dad and my brother Todd each set up a desk in the office and took over the hundreds of phone calls. They worked tirelessly as I wandered around the house in a daze, trying my best to be a mom. This fight had consumed every moment, thought, and ounce of energy for the last three months, and now, repentinamente, it was over. No more nights frantically doing Google searches, no more singing at 3pm, no more mornings or afternoons spent next to Nick’s hospital bed, no more pep talks, no more phone calls with Dr John, Dr Larry and Dr Ng. These people had entered my life and become the generals of my army. It was so strange to realise I would no longer talk to them several times a day. It was a huge adjustment for me. The battle was over, and we had lost.

It had been three months since I didn’t wake up and call the hospital first thing for an update, three months since I had spent a full day with Elvis without the worries of the hospital weighing on my mind. I felt, una vez mas, how similar this was to the aftermath of closing a Broadway show. There’s a strange period actors go through as they realise, I don’t have to go to the theatre any more. I don’t have to sing that song any more. I don’t have to do that dance ever again. They almost don’t know what to do with themselves, without the routine they’ve become so accustomed to; they forget what they used to do every day before that show opened. They struggle to find their way to a new routine.

Everyone else in my life, everyone else in the world, knew what had happened, but Elvis was just a year old. He kept all of us laughing during the day as we tried to go through the motions. Once he went to bed, the house got quiet, and reality began to sink in. I cried myself to sleep each night. He was my reason to get out of bed and smile.

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