“I felt the magic in me, and it helped me sing,” says Nick Pesce, 21, who worked diligently to land his dream role as Bert in the UPS for Downs/EDGE of Orion production of Mary Poppins, Jr. last week.
Not only did he practice on his own, (“Every day with a singing machine and my Bluetooth in my room.”) as well as with his family, he also had the help of someone special.
An inclusion student through high school, Nick’s middle school choir teacher, Kelly Harper, volunteered once a week all summer to help him prepare for his audition. “Ms. Harper is always so fun and nice. She is a great choir teacher! We have so much fun and are silly together,” he says.
Before taking on the role of Bert—a dream come true for this Dick Van Dyke fan—Nick played the gym teacher in “Hairspray” and Pumba in “The Lion King.” He says, “I like musical theatre so much.”
What did he learn in this year’s role? “I learned to tap dance, and to work with others on a script. . . . To work really hard for what you really want. . . .and . . . Anything can happen if you let it,” he says with a smile.
Here’s the rest of Sam’s interview with Nick:
Where do you go to school? “I’m in the last year of transition at Lake Zurich High School and I go to Harper College. I’m learning about writing and technology and socialization and communication.”
Where do you work? “I work in the cotillion banquet hall. Right now it’s just one or two evenings a week. I’m working toward being a full banquet server.”
What were some of your best and worst memories from high school? “I was the sophomore prince for homecoming, but my favorite thing was playing in the marching band with my drum line friends. I miss those friends so much. They left to go to college.” Nick says his worst memory was a cooking class with a teacher who just didn’t get what inclusion is all about. He wound up dropping the class.
What makes you happiest? “My best day ever was the day I met Jamie, my girlfriend, two years ago . . . and being in college.”
How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? “I had one red rose like on “The Bachelor,” and a romantic card. I picked up Jamie at her house, and then we went out to see a movie called, ‘Isn’t it Romantic,’ and we ate some dinner at Chili’s.”
What other activities do you enjoy beyond acting and theatre?“I like to pump it up for exercise. I go to LA Fitness with my dad to lift weights. I also like swimming and playing hoops, yo-yos, and blackjack.”
Where will you be in five years? “In five years, I’ll be a graduate of Harper College, and I will be living in Wisconsin and working as a banquet server in Lake Geneva.”
What are your dreams for the future? “I am a responsible adult. I want to live on my own without any parents. And I will get married and live with my honey or friends.”
Photo (at left) credit: Sam Duray