As a young girl growing up in Leavittown, N.Y., Diane Nardolillo Tyminski wasn’t outwardly expressive about her vocal talent. “I sang in secret. I was a frustrated singer,” said the woman who grew to be a frequent performer at community theaters in Lake Worth and Delray Beach, Florida. She moved to the Sunshine State 25 years ago, “alone,” she said. “My parents urged me to go on my own to get a start in school,” though they later followed.
Diane often shares the performance stage with her husband, Jim Tyminski, but their theatrical likes are not always the same – and their ambitions are sometimes dissimilar. He counts among his acting stints an appearance on Season 3 of “The Walking Dead” – as a zombie.
Diane with her husband, Jim, in I Do, I Do
In their away-from-stage time, both have full time non-acting jobs. She is a real estate associate with Keyes Company in Boca Raton. Jim is a software developer. And while Diane’s husband has appeared in musicals and productions that have no melody track, she has yet to step into a portrayal that did not involve vocalizing.
But Diane’s latest stage appearance – a grim drama with a somber soundtrack — came close. It cast her as Diana Goodman, a homemaker with serious mental challenges. The show, Next to Normal, presented in April at the Lake Worth Playhouse, focused on a family that appears typical on the surface, but suffers the ongoing angst of dealing with a wife and mother who lives on the edge.
Diane in Next to Normal
“This was my favorite role,” Diane said of her Next to Normal persona. “I never played a serious part before.” Most of her 13 performances during the past 10 years have been light and/or comic depictions.
In Next to Normal, not only did she face the rigors of reaching deep within her psyche to find the source of her errant character’s frenzied behavior, she had to learn 31 difficult, intense songs.
So, how did she perform in this more demanding role? Ask Daniel Eilola, the play’s director and LWP’s artistic director. “Diane is an absolute joy to work with,” he said. “Her passion, her talent and her easygoing attitude are a real credit to any production both on stage and off.”
In Next to Normal, “she was very committed to the material and threw herself completely into the role of Diana Goodman, plumbing the depths of her soul and her own life experience to develop a compelling and honest portrait of a woman struggling with the effects of mental illness.”
“Diane’s wonderful talent is on display whenever she steps on a stage and is a performer with a large amount of untapped potential, a combination that is intriguing to me, both as a director and an artistic director.”
Her first encounter with the world of performing arts took place around age 10, she recalled. “I was taking organ lessons in a store that sold pianos and organs. After each lesson, the owner wanted to feature me on the Gilbronson Rialto, a top-of-the-line organ with a 25-key pedal board. I had to walk up a platform to reach it.”
“I was scared for my life,” she remembered. “I had to do it after every lesson.” Soon, the young, would-be performer learned the meaning of the phrase: “The show must go on.”
Diane in They’re Playing Our Song
Music wasn’t at the top of Diane’s to-do list when she began her career trek. She started out as a court reporter, a tough task that required uninterrupted attention during the day and long nights of transcription. “I was living with my two sisters, April and Andrea, and they would go out in the evening while I stayed home and worked. They told me: ‘You’re no fun.’”
She moved on to a less-rigorous, but still exacting job as a closed-captioning typist for the hearing impaired at a major television ministry in Fort Lauderdale.
Marriage came later when she met – or, rather, became reacquainted with, Jim Tyminski, also from Leavittown, N.Y. “He was one of my dearest friends in high school. He worked on Long Island, and his company sent him to South Carolina. We lost touch for many years.”
“He contacted me at work during the time I was singing at Coral Ridge Church. Our paths crossed, and we were married in 2003.” After traveling for about a year, they opened a real estate business in Boca Raton, which they sold in 2016 to Keyes Company, where Diane is still employed.
Diane (center) and Jim (to the right of her) in The World Goes Round
As she added to her list of accomplishments, music became a more significant avocation. She has been a vocalist and chorale singer; she has performed radio jingles and voice-overs and has been a worship leader and soloist at Spanish River Church in Boca Raton.
She was also a featured artist several times on Legends Radio 100.3 FM. “This meant they would talk about me live on the radio and then play one of the songs I recorded at the station, which aired locally and internationally. It had to be a song from the Great American Songbook.”
Through it all, Diane admits she felt a certain degree of curiosity about musical theater, even before she took the stage. “I remember walking by the Lake Worth Playhouse, looking in and saying, “I wonder what they do in there?”
It wouldn’t take long before she found out – thanks in part to her oldest sister, Edithann.
“One day in 2011, she called me unexpectedly and said, ‘I signed you up for an audition for [the television show], “The Voice,” in Orlando.’”
“I never wanted to do it,” said an exasperated Diane, who didn’t realize the difficulty she would face in the process.
“The day of the audition, I had to go into a hotel at an assigned time – me and 600 other people. We were all herded like cattle. Then, we had to wait four or five hours.”
“Finally, when I got into a room, I was told to sing 10 bars of a song – a cappella. When that was over, a woman said to all of us, ‘OK, thank you. None of you are going forward onto the show.’”
“All that, and it was over in two minutes,” Diane said. “I told my sister I’m so angry and exhausted and I haven’t eaten all day.”
Once the bad vibe settled down, Diane realized that she had gotten the performance bug—and went on to nail her first theater role – in Shout! The Musical at Lake Worth Playhouse.
“It was a show about the British music invasion of the 1960s,” she said. “I read it and said, ‘I can do that.’ I went and auditioned. I sang Dusty Springfield’s song, ‘Son of a Preacher Man.’”
“I got the part,” said Diane, recalling her excitement. “I never thought I’d get the part, but I got it.”
She went on to do four more productions at the downtown Lake Worth Beach venue through 2014: as Prudy Pingleton in Hairspray, Anne Collier in 1940s Radio Hour, as Charity Barnum, wife of P.T. Barnum in the bioplay about the famed circus legend, and as Paulette in Legally Blonde.
Diane as Paulette in Legally Blonde