Work Ethic and Positive Attitude Lead U of I Alum to Disneyland Paris
Ryan Chidester, a 2016 theatre arts graduate, tumbled into acting after playing almost every sport he could – baseball, swimming, tennis and football. He was good at them all, but in theater, he found a way to combine athleticism with a deeper satisfaction.
“It helped me learn to be more attuned to who you are,” he said. “It was really refreshing.”
Chidester, from Coeur d’Alene, credits his mom for encouraging him to give theater a try. Little did they know that Chidester’s journey would ultimately lead to Disneyland Paris less than 18 months after he graduated from the University of Idaho.
While a student at UI Theatre Arts, Chidester did some muscular acting, getting beaten to a pulp in productions like “The Earl” written by Brett Neveu and directed by then-Master of Fine Arts candidate Matthew Brumlow. Of course it was all stage combat and no bones were really broken, but the blood and violence looked brutal. Chidester also choreographed the stage fighting for the play.
Chidester spent his UI summers at Silverwood Theme Park in Athol, Idaho. He appeared in the theme park’s train robbery show, refining his acting, improv and stuntwork over the course of the theme park’s season.
After graduation, Chidester moved to Florida. He had enough money to live for six months while trying to land acting work. It didn’t take long. He soon had three jobs: as a zip line guide where he flew over crocodiles (and wrestled them on occasion), as a member of a murder mystery dinner theater company and as the lead pirate Benjamin Blue in a pirate stunt show.
“I wanted to work as much as I could, and I was hoping it would lead to something bigger,” Chidester said.
That’s when he auditioned for Disneyland Paris and landed a part in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He’s in France now where he’s bringing the American frontier to life for French audiences with singing, dancing, fighting and comedy routines, five days a week.
It’s a dream come true for any young performer and Chidester has insightful advice for others. You don’t have to be the best to be successful, he said.
“The biggest thing is not how good you are, but how well you work with others and how you work, in general – your work ethic,” he said.