Some children are brought into the world with no creative boundaries, encouraged to be inspired and shine. The oldest of three boys, Jack Gerding, a talented senior at Lee’s Summit High School, is the product of such a childhood. He has already blown audiences away on the theatrical stage with such presence it has attracted scholarships and is opening a sky’s-the-limit future for him.
Jack is the son of Ryan and Kelly Gerding. Ryan is a public relations executive for INK inc. Public Relations and Kelly is executive producer for the Fox 4 Morning Show. His younger brother, Kyle, is a freshman at LSHS, and Nick is a seventh-grader at Pleasant Lea Middle School.
“I was inspired in middle school when I attended a Parade of Choirs concert and saw Sounds of Summit, the select chamber choir at LSHS,” Jack says. “They looked like they were having so much fun and enjoying the music they were singing.”
Now a member of the LSHS Concert Choir and Sounds of Summit, Jack has been named to the KC Metro All-District Choir in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and All-State Choir in 2016 and 2017, where he took third place in the state reading competition in 2017, which he will be competing in again this year. He advanced to the national rounds for New York’s Classical Singer Magazine singing competition in 2016 and 2017.
He plays trumpet and is section leader in the LSHS Golden Tiger Marching Band, and is in the school’s symphonic band, symphony orchestra and jazz band. Lettering in academics throughout high school, he is a member of National Honor Society and a Bright Flight Scholar.
A member of the theater group Tiger Act, he played Donal in “The Pirate Queen” in 2015, Prince Eric in “The Little Mermaid” in 2016 and Frollo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” in 2017. He was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical by the student critic organization, Cappies, for his roles as Prince Eric and Donal.
Beth Munce, a founding board member of Kantorei KC, has been Jack’s voice teacher since the summer before his freshman year.
“I gave Jack a few lessons at Kantorei Summer Choral Institute. When he started lessons, he was your average teenager but possessed a very unique instrument: a voice that over time has grown and developed into a very resonant, rich voice which I believe is capable of someday filling an opera hall and making art at the very highest level,” Beth says. “Jack is a massive talent. He has worked extremely hard to get to where he is today and has the talent to do whatever he wants in the singing world.”
He is honored to have received a scholarship from the Metheney Music Foundation for a summer program he attended at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and been offered scholarships from William Jewell and Pepperdine University so far. He plans to study vocal performance in college and is in the process of applying to schools across the country, including Juilliard and the Curtis Institute.
“I like to think I’m a good kid who likes to play the bad guy—I’ve been the bad guy in two of my three high school musicals. I really enjoy playing the bad guy the most. It’s a more complex performance. Everyone thinks they are the good guy in their life story, so playing the good guy in a musical is not much of a stretch. But playing the bad guy means going deeper into the role, examining a thought process that’s different from what you normally do,” he says. “In ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ I played the role of Frollo, a church leader who despised gypsies and foreigners, and acted against them because he thought it was right. Playing someone who is bad for what he thinks are good reasons is really challenging and really enjoyable.”
He sings praise for the music faculty at LSHS and also for Theatre Director Micah Hensley.
“He doesn’t tell you everything you need to do to succeed and gives plenty of guidance,” Jack says of Hensley. “He also trusts you enough to let you introduce your own ideas about what a character might do in a particular scene. He works with you based on what you think a character should be and makes it so that the character you play is something you have developed.”
Success to this up-and-coming actor is truly connecting with his audience, and whatever stage his talent lands him on, that will serve him well. Be it a Broadway stage or in an opera, as William Shakespeare told us in his play, As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage!”