Nicolas J
From an early age, Nicolas knew his calling was to be involved in the theatre, entertaining people through his acting and pantomime talents. Born in 1972 in Soviet Georgia, young Nicolas – better known to his parents as Nugzar – demonstrated a passion for acting, dancing and stepping into the spotlight whenever possible.
Despite his obvious talent and drive, Nicolas’ parents wanted him to pursue a more stable and lucrative career as a diplomat or lawyer. Nicolas certainly demonstrated the strategic thinking needed for a legal career by setting just enough of his book and
lunch money aside in order to pay for his mime and acting lessons – not bad for a 10 year old!

Eventually his parents became aware of his involvement in theatre but by then it was too late – Nicolas was hooked and no other career would suffice. A brilliant student, Nicolas graduated one full year ahead of schedule and passed the entrance exams for both the diplomat school and the school of theatre. It’s not hard to guess where Nicolas ended up yet his father still insisted that he transfer to the diplomat school and get a “real job.” During his time at the theatrical school, Nicolas studied the Stanislavsky system.

Six months into his theatrical training, Nicolas was confronted by his parents again. He promised them that he would transfer after a brief 10-day student group vacation to Germany. During his plane ride to Dresden, he sat next to a young woman and told her of his aspirations to study with Marcel Marceau. She befriended Nicolas and would later help him on is path to success. As soon as Nicolas arrived in Germany, he took his small knapsack full of clothes, his paltry 400 Marks and literally just walked away from his tour group and his life in communist, Soviet-controlled Georgia.

He was 16, alone, did not speak the language, had no place to go but all he could think of was studying with Marcel Marceau. With that bold move, Nicolas took his first step in realizing his dreams. His friend from the plane gave him a place to stay – a friend’s apartment that was unoccupied. The apartment had only cold water and no furniture except for an inflatable bed that had a slow leak. Working in restaurants for meager wages, Nicolas struggled to save money for a trip to Paris. He ended up spending his last pennies for some white make-up so that he could perform in the streets and try to earn more money. In the spirit of a true artist, Nicolas drew upon his own experiences and created a show called “All Night Alone.” He didn’t get rich from it, but he did receive applause and just enough money to get him to Paris!

Arriving in Paris at the age of 16 Nicolas had 370 Francs, spoke no French, broken German and his native Georgian – and this time, he didn’t know a soul in this new city. Without a second thought, Nicolas jumped in a taxi and headed straight for Marcel Marceau’s academy. When he arrived, Nicolas discovered that there were applications, entrance exams and fees for these things…..he was in such a hurry, he never stopped to consider that he would hit this kind of obstacle. Undaunted, Nicolas paid out his last 300 Francs for the entrance exams – seven days of testing. He fumbled his way through the tests – most of the time not even understanding what was being asked of him. He slept in the park – suffering for his art was an understatement, but no obstacle would keep him from his dream.

On the day of the final exams, Nicolas borrowed music from a nearby diner for his final audition – with Marcel Marceau sitting on one side of the theatre, and Nicolas on the opposite side, all he could do was stare at his idol….then, it was Nicolas’ turn to audition. He put all of his heart and soul into that audition – not knowing what would happen now that he had finally come face to face with the future he had fought so hard to reach. Marcel just stared at Nicolas throughout his performance and even after Nicolas had gone back to his seat. It was as if the two were mesmerized by each other – connected in some way.

At first Nicolas did not understand what the academy assistants were trying to tell him after the auditions – he thought he had not been accepted. Finally a person was found who could translate – Nicolas had indeed been accepted, but not as a paying student – he was to attend on a full scholarship. He also received another great gift from Marcel Marceau soon after. Apparently, Marcel didn’t like the sound of Nugzar, he wanted something that sounded more fun perhaps a bit more…”French.” As such, he dubbed his new, prized student – “Nicolas.”

Those days were among some of the happiest of times for Nicolas. He was studying with his idol, and was also working in local theatres and at conventions earning real money. It was during this period of his life that he created a character that would literally take him around the world – Bubble Nicolas.

Bubble Nicolas is an avante garde mime creation that combines performance art, interactive theatre, and classic mime in new and amazing ways each time it is performed. Nicolas has used this character to charm and entertain audiences of mere dozens to stadiums and halls in the thousands. Each time “the man in the giant plastic bubble” has delighted his fans and continues to do so to this day. Nicolas also chose to add film school to his studies, much against the wishes of his mentor, Marcel Marceau. Refusing to compromise his evolving dream, even for his idol, Nicolas continued expanding his talents, skills and knowledge – if it had to do with performance, Nicolas wanted to know how it was done and Bubble Nicolas was often the testing ground for each new bit of acquired knowledge.


It was also at this time that a talent scout from Disney noticed Nicolas and offered him the chance to bring his character to the international stage.

Bubble Nicolas was an instant success and led to additional shows such as the Living Statues and Drums of the Congo. Nicolas was now a world-class performer entertaining audiences all over Europe and Asia Minor. During this flurry of activity, Nicolas met Steven Rohmer and discovered a common ground of creativity and perspective. In a note from Nicolas to Steven about 8 ½ years ago, Nicolas described the Marionette character and “wouldn’t it be great to actually create a show based on it.”

In late 2001, Nicolas had the opportunity to bring this character to life on the stage in Istanbul. Steven joined him the role of “The Kid.” The act was an instant success and became so popular that Nicolas had to hire bodyguards to keep adoring fans from overtaking him. Ironically enough, the overnight success was also an overnight production. Nicolas’ flight to Turkey was late and the pair had less than 24 hours to rehearse the very first performance of “The Kid and the Marionette.

Today, “The Marionette” is a fully developed character with a library of stories in production, a full cast and crew and a burgeoning success. Nicolas has consistently defied the “rules and obstacles” of life throughout his career and thrived, each time achieving greater success.

In his own words, Nicolas asserts that his success is nothing more than the reflection of the love he feels for his fans and their generosity to him.

“It’s about giving love – finding the child we left behind so long ago and touching that innocence and joy again,” says Nicolas, “If just for a moment, you can see that sparkle in someone’s eyes, you know you have succeeded and that – to me – is worth more than all the hardships I went through to get here and all the money in the world. It’s about being friends with no strings attached.”

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Contact Nicolas J
Nicolas@themarionette.net
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