But against all odds, Shorewood High School alum Megan Kaminsky has built a career in theater at the Milwaukee County Zoo. After earning her theater degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee three years ago, Kaminsky was hired as one of the original members of Kohl's Wild Theater, where she has honed her acting, singing and choreographing skills.
For Kaminsky, the opportunity to have a day job as an actress has been a dream come true.
“I remember my senior year at Shorewood High School trying to figure out what I was going to do, and at that time, I didn’t think acting was a realistic career,” she said. “Then in college I realized I really missed acting, and I pursued a BFA in theater. I’m really glad I stuck with it.”
The Kohl's Wild Theater Company employs a theater company of 12 professional actors who perform four different shows per day at the Milwaukee County Zoo.
The shows cover topics like bird migration, the fragility of marine ecosystems, the importance of keeping pet frogs in their terrarium and the role of jaguars in the rainforest.
“I feel like this is such a great job in that I get to act and perform, while also teaching kids about these important issues – which are really things everyone should learn more about,” Kaminsky said.The shows at the zoo start on Memorial Day and run through Labor Day. During the school year, Kohl's Wild Theater offers free 45-minute performances for schools, community groups and other events within a one-hour radius of Milwaukee.
With her three years of experience, Kaminsky has played every single character in about 20 different plays that not only range in subject matter, but also in style.
"It’s always changing, so you’re always getting to know new roles," Kaminsky said. "It keeps things fresh and interesting."
Kaminsky's versatility, seniority and acting ability led David McLellan, the Zoological Society's theater coordinator, to name her one of the theater company's show captains.
Because Kohl's Wild Theater performances are held during the day, Kaminsky's evenings are free to perform with local theater companies such as Youngblood, The Boulevard Ensemble and The Quasimondo, among others. During the holiday season, she will perform in A Cudahy Caroler Christmas at In Tandem Theatre.
Kohl's Wild Theater has given Kaminsky the opportunity to refine not only her acting skills, but also her singing, puppetry and choreographing skills. But she says the foundation of her acting career is built upon her four years at SHS.
“’I’m very grateful for having gone to Shorewood," Kaminsky said. "They have such an excellent program that really prepared me and gave me an idea what a career in theater was like.”