Tributes poured in from friends, family members and fans worldwide a day after the death of Nick Cordero.
“Nick was that stereotypical success story that happened so very rarely,” said Tim Denis, a member of the board of directors with the Hamilton Theatre Inc. (HTI). “But he was the epitome of, you know, they were the kid who made it big from Hamilton.”
Denis remembers the 15-year-old in a local version of The Boys From Syracuse put together by the HTI and says the six-foot Cordero could really sing and dance.
“When you were doing community theatre (and) trying to find guys who could do both, with Nick you really hit the mother lode,” Denis told Global News. “Nick, although he was pretty tall, actually had an incredible grace to him.”
The Hamilton-born, Tony Award-nominated Cordero died on Sunday morning after a months-long battle with complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to wife Amanda Kloots.
“My darling husband passed away this morning,” Kloots wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday night. “He was surrounded in love by his family, singing and praying as he gently left this earth.”
An alumnus from Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton, Cordero left the city to attend Ryerson University in Toronto before embarking on a music career that would eventually take him to Broadway for title roles in Toxic Avenger, Rock of Ages and Bullets Over Broadway.
Fellow Rock of Ages co-star and Americal Idol semifinalist Constantine Maroulis said Cordero brought a “whole new energy” to the show when it started its 2010 off-Broadway run.
“I was skeptical meeting the new cast that I was going to spend the next couple of years on the road with,” Maroulis told Global News. “And Nick just had this coolness and this ease about him.”
Maroulis said he and Cordero “bonded from Day one” and were roommates during a national tour.
“We are just, we’re just devastated, and our hearts are broken. Our hearts are broken,” said Maroulis.
Come From Away co-star and Hamilton native Kristen Peace says it’s been very difficult to hear and watch what has happened to Cordero on social media.
“You read the posts of people who just were reading about him or following Amanda Kloots stories that everyone was rooting for him and everyone was just hoping for the best,” Peace told Global News.
Peace says one of her fondest memories of Cordero was when she tore ligaments in her ankle just days before starting a production with the Hamilton native a few years back. Peace says because she could barely walk, organizers told her she would likely have to be replaced.
“And Nick immediately rushed in and was like, I’ll carry her. I’ll carry her, ” Peace said, “I’m just thinking, like, what? What do you mean you’re gonna carry me? He’s like, we’ll figure it out. I’ll carry her, carry her on and off stage. I’ll carry her to where she needs to go.”
On Thursday, during a pre-taped appearance on U.S. television, Kloots revealed the Broadway star would likely need a double lung transplant in his fight, saying there was a 99 per cent chance “he would be needing that.”
Kloots went on to say that Cordero’s body is “extremely weak” and that his muscles have atrophied.
“So he can’t move his body yet. He can still open his eyes. And when he is alert and awake, he’ll answer commands by looking up or down, yes or no questions,” she said.
Cordero’s hospitalization started in late March when he was admitted to Cedars-Sinai for what initially was believed to be pneumonia. He was eventually diagnosed with COVID-19 and battled complications, including lung infections and septic shock.
Last month, Kloots said Cordero had been receiving antibiotics with the possibility of a stem cell treatment to address damage in his lungs.
The Ohio native, who updated her husband’s progress regularly on social media, said Cordero had to endure a medically induced coma weeks after having his right leg amputated as a result of the complications.
“You will NEVER be forgotten. You will be loved forever. I feel numb,” said fellow Hamilton-born actress and Broadway veteran Caissie Levy in a tweet.
“My sincere condolences to his family, friends and all who loved him and his art,” said Hamilton-area MP and federal Minister of Labour Filomena Tassi in social media post.
Cordero’s last Instagram post was March 19, on Kloots’ birthday. The Broadway star paid tribute to his wife for making the world a “better place.”
“These days I’m counting my blessings. This one is top of the list,” Cordero said in the post. “To say I’m thankful for her is the greatest understatement. She only spreads love in the world and does her best to make it a better place.”
In an Instagram post, fellow Bullets Over Broadway star Zach Braff shared the last text he received from Cordero, which asked Braff to “look out” for his wife and one-year-old son, Elvis, and promise “they will never want for anything.”
“I have honestly never known a kinder person. But COVID doesn’t care about the purity of your soul, or the goodness in your heart,” said Braff.
Other notable personalities who shared their respects on social media Sunday night were actor and former teen idol Hilary Duff, actor Alec Baldwin and Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis.
A GoFundMe campaign to support Cordero’s wife and son had more than doubled its fundraising goal as of Monday afternoon.
The page was launched in April with a fundraising goal of $400,000 and had raised more than $870,000 as of July 6.
“She needs to pay for the hospital bills, which are already starting to come,” campaign organizers said in a post.
In early May, Kloots expressed her thanks to the many who donated, saying she “cannot believe” the number of people who supported the cause.
“I want to THANK everyone on behalf of Nick as well for the incredible donations we have received! I am BLOWN AWAY and in disbelief,” said Kloots.