Written by News Bulletin News Sources
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 00:00
Oswego East High School choir director Peter Barsch breaks into a proud smile when he recalls his former student, Nick Pankuch.
“Nick’s personality was five feet in front of him,” Barsch said of the 2008 graduate who is a featured player in the hit musical, “In the Mood,” which is currently on tour in Australia. “He was always the biggest personality in the room. He expected more from himself. He went above and beyond the performance to get what he expected from himself.”
In a recent interview on Australia’s The Morning Show, Pankuch performed a number from the play and taught one of the hosts a few dance steps. Pankuch began performing in the 1940s’ musical revue in California in August.
The show opened in Australia in September and will run through October. Pankuch will return with the company to tour the U.S., from mid-October through November including several stops in the Chicago area.
While at Oswego East, Pankuch honed his performance skills through lead roles including “Damn Yankees,” “The Pirates of Penzance,” “The Diviners,” “Flowers for Algernon” and as an anchor in the EastTV daily student announcements.
Pankuch said Oswego East was the place he was “challenged by teachers to not only be a better performer but to be best in spite of any obstacles.”
For his current role, Pankuck said his training at Oswego East came in handy.
“The foundation for not only my performance-based skills but also for my attitude and work ethic started at OEHS,” Pankuch said.
Pankuch’s mother, Leanne Pankuch, also credits Oswego East teachers with helping to foster her son’s talent.
“Peter Barsch was absolutely one of the most important. His tireless dedication to the arts and to his students was a blessing to us,” Leanne Pankuck said.
She also credited broadcast teacher Bill Gutman as being one of the most important guides in her son’s high school career.
“Perhaps OEHS’s most important gift to Nick was that of a diverse and supportive school community; teachers and administrators and students who recognized the uniqueness among them and rewarded talent, hard work, and accomplishment with pride, recognition and encouragement,” she said.
Beyond theatre, Pankuch’s East resume includes mixed choir and a cappella participation.
He earned a spot in the Illinois Music Educators Association’s district festival and is one of a handful of Oswego East alum to have been selected as a participant in the All-State IMEA Festival. Illinois State Scholar Pankuch also earned a First Place Speech Team Award for Dramatic Duet Acting during his senior year at Oswego East.
Pankuch attended Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, where he performed in “Follies,” “Hamlet,” “Rent,” and “Titanic.”
To see his performance in “In the Mood,” tickets may be purchased through www.inthemoodlive.com. Illinois performances include Frankfort (Nov. 6), Waukegan (Nov. 14) and Rockford (Nov. 15).
--News Bulletin news sources
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 14:00