If you take any little ones to the Louisville Zoo’s World’s Largest Halloween Party this weekend, look for Wreck it Ralph and Peter Pan, characters portrayed by two of our students. Senior Jesse Zoeller is Wreck It Ralph, and junior Luke Rodski is Peter Pan. Sophomore Mara Holifield was a substitute for the regular character playing Doroty one weekend. Jesse and Luke have been working each weekend at the zoo throughout October and will continue through this weekend.
Both students are active in Providence theatre, but this was the first acting gig outside of school for Luke. He said he enjoyed the chance to improvise lines every night, although it could be a challenge to stay in character for four hours – all without knowing what the next group of children will say. He also found it rewarding when some of the visitors reacted strongly to seeing his character.’
“There’s always that one kid who’s been waiting all night to see Peter Pan, and they run around the corner and run up to you like, ‘Peter Pan!’” he said. “It’s really a wholesome feeling.”
Jesse has acted in two shows on the New Albany RiverStage in addition to taking part in several Providence productions. He has a lead role as the antagonist in the upcoming fall musical and is in rehearsals for Popcorn Players and Providence Singers. He said he likes working at the zoo because it helps him push his acting abilities and allows him to meet more people in local theatre.
“It helps me exceed my ability in acting and acting in character,” Jesse said.
Although Jesse does have to remain in character for the duration of each night at the zoo, not having to memorize lines has helped in manage playing and preparing for several roles in different performances in the same time period.
“Being part of the zoo and giving one hundred percent effort to school and extracurriculars is a bit of a challenge, but I’ve been able to manage my time well,” he said.
Luke, who also is in Popcorn Players, said that doing so much improvisational work at the zoo has helped him as he rehearses for the Christmas troupe’s upcoming season. And he’ll have a similar chance to make children happy.
“Popcorn Players has that same kind of magic you get performing for them (children) at the zoo,” Luke said.
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