Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Tim Nicolai, a Jackson, Missouri, native, is appearing in New York Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park which opened May 29 in Central Park.
Nicolai is appearing in “Othello,” directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, through June 24 in the Delacorte Theatre. This summer’s “Free Shakespeare in the Park” also features productions of “Twelfth Night” July 17-Aug. 19.
“Any time you work at the Delcorte in Central Park, it’s a dream,” Nicolai said. “It’s one of the most unique and special venues in America. It’s one of the biggest privileges you can have as a working actor in New York, and I feel lucky to be a small part of it.
“We’ve been blessed with an incredibly talented, smart, hard-working cast and crew and that all starts at the top with The Public and our director Ruben Santiago-Hudson.,” he continued. “I’m very excited for everyone to see what, I think, is a tremendous production.”
Set amid war and palace intrigue in the 17th-century Mediterranean, the classic drama “Othello,” about a noble Black Venetian general whose marriage is sabotaged by theater’s most infamous villain, Iago, remains Shakespeare’s most urgent and relevant tragedy today. A romantic vision gives way to the violent tangle of love and jealousy, race and revenge in this great Shakespearean tragedy.
New York’s Public Theater has enjoyed one of the largest and most diverse audience bases in New York City for nearly 60 years. More than five million people have visited the Delacorte Theater for free performances, making it one of New York City’s most beloved summer traditions. At its landmark downtown home at Astor Place, the venue is viewed as an essential cultural force through productions of new plays, musicals, and Shakespeare that lead and frame dialogue on some of the most important issues of our day.
This is not Nicolai’s first foray into Shakespeare. He has been a director or assistant director at regional theatres including the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. In the summer of 2008, Nicolai played the title role in “Richard II” with the Next Stage Ensemble at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. He also had understudy opportunities with the New York Public Theater doing Shakespeare in the Park for the productions, “The Tempest” and “Cymbeline.”
Nicolai graduated from Southeast in 2005 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting and directing. He came to Southeast after being very involved in drama in high school. His parents loved Shakespeare, theatre and culture, he said, and encouraged him to get involved with acting. He graduated from the highly selective New York University (NYU) graduate acting program in 2015. He has had a successful acting career
“Tim is one of the most talented acting students I have ever had the privilege to costume,” said Rhonda Weller-Stilson, director of the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “His work in ‘Guys and Dolls,’ ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ and ‘Picasso at the Lapine Agile’ at Southeast was outstanding. He excelled in both comedy and drama. Tim was very interested in Shakespeare while at Southeast. His portrayal of ‘Bottom’ is still one of the most memorable roles I recall from the Rose Theatre. He has had a wonderful acting career since leaving Southeast., and his success is well deserved. Tim is a fantastic actor. We are so proud of his accomplishments and can’t wait to see what he does next.”
After graduating from Southeast, Nicolai first pursued directing. Since then he’s been a casting agent, appeared on television programs, including “Madam Secretary,” and appeared in a number of theatrical roles.
Dr. Kenn Stilson, chair of Southeast’s Conservatory of Theatre and Dance, said Nicolai is a talented actor with a bright future.
“We continue to be extremely proud of Tim and all his accomplishments,” Stilson said. “In addition to his obvious acting talent, Tim has always been an entrepreneur, a quality that has served him well throughout the last decade. Tim has the drive and tenacity to make things happen. He’s going to have a long career in this industry, and we’ll continue to cheer him on along the way.”