Frozen actor Josh Gad posted a devastated tribute to his old high school drama teacher, who he credited with giving him the confidence to pursue his dream (Picture: Getty)
Josh Gad is mourning the loss of a man ‘who truly changed my life’ as he paid tribute after the shock death of his high school drama teacher.
The 42-year-old Frozen star, who has enjoyed major career success thanks to his voice acting work as Olaf the snowman in the mega-hit Disney franchise, as well as his Tony-nominated turn in the original cast for The Book of Mormon on Broadway, shared the devastating update with fans on Sunday.
Taking to Instagram, the performer announced the news with ‘the heaviest of hearts’ as he shared that he and his teacher, Brent, had actually caught up just weeks ago after the educator saw him in his big new Broadway show, Gutenberg! The Musical!.
‘Around three weeks ago, I got to celebrate my new Broadway show with a man who truly changed my life, my high school drama teacher, Brent Pesola.’
‘It was so beautiful to be able to perform for him on stage and then have him come backstage where I could tell him what a huge and finding influence he had in my life,’ Josh wrote, alongside a throwback picture of himself with his teacher, who had his arm around Josh and was giving a thumbs up.
‘He never saw me as a student. He always looked at me as an equal. It was truly magical to be able to say thank you to the man who gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams.’
Josh is currently on Broadway with new show Gutenberg! The Musical!, which Brent Pesola had seen just weeks ago (Picture: Getty)
He continued: ‘This week, I was shocked and heartbroken to learn that my teacher, who changed my life, died suddenly far too young.
‘His outsized influence, and his gigantic presence made me feel like he would be around forever and while I am so grateful I got to say thank you in person, I will continue to mourn the fact that I never got to say it quite enough.’
The Artemis Fowl and Beauty and the Beast star reminisced over Pesola coaching him for speech and debate championships at school, as well as casting him in the lead role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof as a sophomore and ‘empowering me to be the best performer I could be’.
‘Teachers can change lives and Brent Pesola truly changed mine,’ he wrote.
‘I will miss you dearly my friend. Thank you for putting me on the path that allowed me to make my dreams a reality.
‘My heart goes out to his three beautiful children and his former wife Kristin. 💔💔💔’
Pesola had taught Josh while he was a student at NSU University School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In 2011, Josh first starred with Andrew Rannells in The Book of Mormon on Broadway (Picture: Getty)
He has also had massive success as the voice of Olaf in the Frozen franchise (Picture: Walt Disney Studios/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock)
‘Sorry for your loss. Sending you lots of love,’ wrote Josh’s actor pal Telly Leung, adding: ‘Teachers like that never truly go away because they live on in US every time we get on stage or on a set. They live forever. ❤️’
‘Beautiful! And what an inspiration!’ theatre star Kerry Butler commented on Josh’s tribute, while singer Regina Spektor shared her sympathy writing: ‘Sending you a hug 😔💔.’
In October, Josh was forced to drop out of a Gutenberg! performance due to a ‘medical emergency’.
Fortunately, he was able to share a more positive update hours later as he revealed he’d been ‘diagnosed and treated in record time for some lower abdominal issues’ thanks to the ‘phenomenal team’ at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
He continued: ‘With their blessing, I will be back in the show this evening. Thank you all for your incredible messages and good vibes.
‘Felt them and got the best possible results! Now, let’s get back to eating dreams!’
Alongside former Book of Mormon co-star Andrew Rannells, Josh has welcomed multiple guest ‘producers’ to help with their two-man show, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Christian Slater, Josh Groban and Vanessa Williams.
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‘It was truly magical to be able to say thank you to the man who gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams.’