Ian Pinski is well on his way to fulfilling his dreams of becoming a famous actor. Ian is in the production of "Big Fish" at the BoHo Theatre at The Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago.
Ian is playing both Young Will and Will's son.
The most amazing part of this tale — Ian is a 9-year-old fourth-grader at Bishop McNamara Catholic School.
"Big Fish" is a musical based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the film directed by Tim Burton. "Big Fish" tells the story of Edward Bloom, a man who leads an extraordinary life, according to the stories he tells his son, Will.
But Will, who is getting married and expecting a child of his own, doesn’t think there’s any truth to the tales his father tells about meeting witches, kissing mermaids or joining the circus.
When Edward’s health declines, Will must decide whether or not he accepts his father’s stories. Big Fish opened in Chicago on Sept. 29 and runs through Nov. 17.
"Big Fish" features 12 adult actors with Ian being the only child actor and singer. He performs in two to three shows per week.
As Young Will, Ian comes in and out of scenes as the cast looks back in time and moves into present time.
“In the beginning, Young Will is sassy to his dad. That's kinda like me and my dad,” said Ian, jokingly with a big grin on his face.
Ian is the son of Michael and Michelle Pinski, of Limestone.
“He [young Will] also gets amazed at all the characters who come on stage -- the giant, the mermaid and the witch. If I saw that, I'd be amazed, too,” Ian said.
When Ian's scenes are complete as Young Will, he returns in the show as Will's son.
“I have to go off stage and change really fast to get back on stage to play Will's son,” Ian said. “I only have a few minutes to change and get back on stage.”
The BoHo Theatre is an intimate venue.
“I like that it's not a big theater," Ian said. "The audience is so close to the stage. It's very personal.”
“I have seen a tremendous amount of growth and maturity from him being in this show. He's so poised and mature on stage,” said Michelle, Ian's mother and manager. “It's a great experience for him to be in a setting with professional adult actors. He's grown in maturity and professionalism. It's commendable.”
Michelle has been to every one of Ian's performances.
“One beautiful thing I see in Ian is his ability to play to the audience," she said. "Like any live theater, there is a different audience every night. I see Ian's personality change in the way he says his lines or smiles depending on the feel of the audience. It's awesome to see how he can play into the crowd.”
The show is directed by BoHo artistic director Stephen Schellhardt.
“We are so blessed to be a part of his magic,” Michelle said.
After Ian's audition, Schellhardt went to greet Michelle and said, “We were blown away by Ian.”
Ian said he felt good about his audition.
"When he [Schellhardt] said he was going to talk to my mom, I was amazed," Ian said. "Directors usually don't do that.”
Michelle said Ian always is excited to perform.
"He gives 100 percent every time,” she said. “It's a wonderful stepping stone for Ian to be a part of the BoHo Theatre production of 'Big Fish.'"
See "Big Fish" before the show ends. Ian will perform at 8 p.m. tonight and Nov. 15 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 17.
In addition to his performances, Ian attends Bishop McNamara and the school is “incredibly supportive of his path,” Michelle said. “His education is in the forefront, and we take education very seriously in our home.”
“The school and principal, Nicole Gernon, have been amazing,” Michelle said.
In fact, Gernon and two office administrators attended one of Ian's performances.
“For her [Gernon] to care that much and support him means so much to us,” Michelle said. ”We are thankful for the support of the school system.”
In addition to performances, school and homework, Ian has dance, vocal, piano and acting lessons and plenty of auditions to keep him busy. Ian also enjoys video games, playing piano and riding his bike.
Ian's career began locally at the age of 5 when he was cast as Little Boy Who in Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School's production of “Seussical, Jr.” He went on to appear as the lead Munchkin in “Wizard of Oz,” as King of the Cool Kids in “Flat Stanley, Jr.” and in six other Bradley-Bourbonnais Theater Education Project and Kankakee Valley Theatre Association productions.
In the spring of last year, Ian was signed to Gray Talent Group, a casting agency with offices in Chicago and Los Angeles.
“It's a big deal for him to be a part of Gray Talent Group," Michelle said. "We are very blessed. Before we had to submit, submit, submit. Now, people are asking for Ian.”
And many auditions occur at the last minute, often times giving Ian less than a day or even hours to learn his lines. And during auditions, Ian not only excels at having memorized his lines, he sings a Capella.
“I look at the lines, and they get in my head," he said. "I think I have a photographic memory.”
Since the start of "Big Fish," Ian has auditioned for shows at the Porchlight Music Theater, the Goodman Theatre and the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, by invitation. And, his mother noted, he's getting callbacks.
Ian auditioned for television shows and movies on Fox, Marvel Studios, Twentieth Century Fox and Netflix, which requested Ian audition. He also has been featured in television commercials.
“I love musical theater. But I want to branch out into television and films,” Ian said.
Ian's dad, Michael, is also in the forefront of his endeavors as are Ian's sisters, Mya and Ava.
“Michael is so supportive," Michelle said. "We couldn't do this without his support. He's a great husband and dad. He's the guy behind the guy.”
“I'm very thankful for my mom and dad. They actually let me do this,” Ian said.
For tickets or more information, go to BoHoTheatre.com.