Photos: My night at “Evil Dead, the Musical”

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By John Moore
Sept. 12, 2013

Opening No. 112: Equinox Theatre’s “Evil Dead, the Musical”: The bloodletting spills out onto the streets in front of the Bug Theatre following every performance of “Evil Dead.” Meaning the eviscerated cast joins departing theatergoers for photo opportunities with chain saws and all manner of fake gore. This campy musical is based on Sam Raimi’s 1980s cult classic film. The story is the one you remember: A boy and his friends take a weekend getaway at an abandoned cabin. The boy expects to get lucky, but instead unleashes an ancient evil spirit. When his friends turn into Candarian Demons, the boy fights until dawn to survive. The score features comic numbers like, “All the Men in my Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons,” “Look Who’s Evil Now,” and “Do the Necronomicon.” (Take THAT, “Rocky Horrow Show.”) The show stars Jason Lythgoe as the smoldering Ash, with help from Chris Arneson, Erica Trisler, Savannah Lake, Natasha Gleichmann, Preston Adams, Ember Everett, Eli Stewart, Patrick Brownson, David Ballew and Aran Peters. The director is Deb Flomberg; musical direction by Hunter Hall. Just two performances remain, and they’ve been selling out: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 13-14, at 3654 Navajo St. 720-984-0781 or Equinox’s home page. If you can’t get in, you’ll have a second, and third chance to get your taste of blood. Next up at the Bug is “Night of the Living Dead” (Oct. 4-26), followed by “Carrie, the Musical” (Nov. 8-30). Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date, click here (These are outtakes). Thanks: Kate Blair.

 

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This theatergoer, surrounded by cast members Chris Arneson, Jason Lythgoe and Patrick Brownson (and presumably, a friend!), looks like she’s not completely sure where the play ends and the real world begins.

 

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

The new Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need. Photo by John Moore. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

Photos: My Night at Equinox’s ‘Fawlty Towers’

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Director Shannon McCarthy takes a quiet moment alone outside the Bug Theatre before the crowd arrives for the opening performance.

 

By John Moore
May 28, 2013

Welcome to my ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes on opening nights in Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore copyright 2013 for www.CultureWest.Org.

Opening No. 72: Equinox Theatre Company’s “A Night at Fawlty Towers”: The 1970s British sitcom, written by Monty Python’s John Cleese and his then-wife Connie Booth, is set in a fictional hotel on the “English Riviera.” The joke is that hotel owner Basil is not exactly deft with customer relations. Instead he is always tense, rude and put-upon, making for some farcically confrontational run-ins with demanding guests. The play basically stages four half-hour episodes. Through June 15. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; plus Monday, June 3, at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page. Directed by Shannon McCarthy. Starring Matt Maxwell and Linnea Lewis, with Natasha Gleichmann, Mark Shonsey, Jim Landis, Logan Bretweiser, Val Purser, Chip Winn Wells, Stanley Ross, Andrew Hunter, Anita Harkess, Carole Maschka, Loren Cogswell, Clint Heyn, Debra Szuster and Amy Stuemky. Thanks to Chachi Martin, cast and crew.

The following gallery is just one chapter in my ongoing photo series called “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes all over Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the actual, official photo series featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 73 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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Deb Flomberg, the founder of Equinox Theatre and also “Denver’s theater examiner” for The Examiner web site, makes a few cameo appearances in her company’s latest production. In the backstage dressing room, Flomberg has posted a photo in tribute to actor Adam Perkes. The star of Equinox’s most recent production, Perkes died just days after “Bat Boy the Musical” opened in February. While Perkes clearly will never be forgotten at Equinox, the opening-night mood was considerably lighter for the first public performance of “Fawlty Towers.”

 

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Denver newcomer Debra Szuster (Kitty/Mrs. Hamilton) makes sure all of her props are in the right place before the opening performance.

 

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The Bug Theatre is surrounded by art galleries that thrive in this northwest Denver neighborhood.

 

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Scandal in the moments just before the opening performance as actor Linnea Lewis, who stars as Sybil Fawlty, unloads on Matt Maxwell, the man who plays her husband, Basil … Oh, hold on, slight correction: The actors are participating in a pre-show “fight call,” where they practice all physical contact to assure the safety of the actors. Never mind.

 

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Deb Flomberg, also the assistant director, leads the cast in some on-stage, pre-show warm-up exercises.

 

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That tattoo belongs to Logan Breitweiser, who plays the hotel chef, Terry. Writer John Cleese named the character after Terry Hughes, who directed “Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl” in 1982.

 

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While the story is not set in New York, the old-school matches give the hotel setting a touch of class.

 

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On the backstage prop table are rolls and rolls of toilet paper. You’ll find out why.

 

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The cast circles up for some communal energy just before the audience is allowed into the house.

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “A Night at Fawlty Towers”)

Equinox, Sugar to honor Perkes by resuming “Bat Boy” performances

Nick Sugar starred with Jenny Hecht in a 2004 production of "Bat Boy, the Musical" for Theatre Group.

Nick Sugar starred with Jenny Hecht in a 2004 production of “Bat Boy, the Musical” for Theatre Group.

 

By John Moore
Feb. 26, 2013

Adam Perkes was expected to star in the irreverent musical "Bat Boy," through March 9 at the Bug Theater opposite Rachelle Wood.

Adam Perkes died after the opening weekend of “Bat Boy.” He is shown with Rachelle Wood.

No one can ever know for certain what the “right” thing to do is when faced with sudden and unexpected tragedy. But after a period of reflection, the Equinox Theatre Company has decided the best way for it to honor Adam Perkes, the late star of its current staging of “Bat Boy, the Musical,” is to resume the production that opened just four days before Perkes’ death.

And in a remarkable display of communion within the Colorado theater community, acclaimed theater artist Nick Sugar has agreed to join the aggrieved cast and step back into one of his signature roles.

“I think it is important to honor Adam, and his struggle,” said Sugar. “I don’t think anyone should ever have that much pain.”

Sugar won a 2004 Westword Best of Denver Award for his performance with Theatre Group as the misunderstood half-human, half-bat boy named Edgar. Five years later, Sugar directed an irreverent staging of the tabloid-inspired musical for Littleton’s Town Hall Arts Center, starring Mark Lively.

Perkes was found dead Feb. 20 in a Glenwood Springs hotel room, after what authorities say appears to have been an overdose of drugs and alcohol. The production was placed on indefinite hiatus, but the cast and creative team have decided to return with performances on Fridays and Saturday nights March 8-9 and 15-16.

“If we walked away now, we would only look back on this whole experience with nothing but pain in our hearts,” said Equinox producer Deb Flomberg. “Instead, by coming together and creating art, we are finding a way to triumph over that pain.”

Perkes’ father, Brent, expressed both delight and relief today on hearing the news that “Bat Boy” will live on. “We were feeling bad about that, so my family will be happy to hear that,” he said after his son’s funeral service.

During the ceremony, Perkes’ uncle, David Bowman, read a message that Adam’s mother, Brenda, wanted delivered specifically to the “Bat Boy” family:

Adam’s family wants wants you to know, and he wants you to know, that he was totally committed to finishing the musical, and he was totally committed to everyone involved with it. He had every intention of seeing it through, despite the fact that he was really struggling with his illness. His trip to the Hot Springs was to try to relax and get a grip on the severe (panic) attacks that have been plaguing him. He simply made a poor decision in trying to stop an attack. Adam would be, and is, deeply sorry.”

Exiting the church, Brenda Perkes stopped and waved to the section of the church where Adam’s theater friends were seated. “Thank you for coming,” she silently mouthed as she walked out.

Flomberg and director Colin Roybal agonized over the decision to continue the show, then decided, with input from the cast, that if “Bat Boy” were to return, it would be best to have an accomplished actor with previous experience in the role. Sugar has won 10 Denver Post Ovation Awards and five Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards as actor, director or choreographer.

“He’s incredibly good at what he does,” Flomberg said.

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Sugar understands all too well what the Perkes and Equinox families are going through. Sugar has lost three siblings, two in their 20s. His father died in 2000, his mother two months ago on Christmas day. And just last night, he had to put down his canine companion of nearly 15 years, Zucci.

“Anyone who has ever loved and lost knows that grief,” Sugar said. “I think it’s going to be a very healing process for all of us.”

Flomberg approached Sugar even though he has no personal affiliation with her small theater company. But Sugar, she said, understands the importance of the time-honored theater maxim: “The show must go on.”

“He doesn’t know us, and he doesn’t know me,” Flomberg said. “He’s used to working in bigger theaters with bigger budgets, so for him to step into our world and help us — it speaks to his giving nature, and it speaks to the giving nature of this community as a whole. The theater community has proven time and again that we are here to support each other.”

Sugar also expressed a desire to help in any way he can the two dozen or so cast and crew who are putting on “Bat Boy,” including Flomberg, who, as producer, had a significant financial investment in the show.

“This whole company of artists is hurting,” said Sugar, “and as a fellow artist, I feel an honor and a duty to do whatever I can to help them.”

Flomberg admitted it is with a sense of both awe and trepidation that she goes back into rehearsals tonight. No matter who assumed the role of Edgar, it will be impossible for anyone on her team to separate the character from the actor who originally played the role, if only for one weekend.

In the story, the town veterinarian brings the Bat Boy to his home, where he is accepted as a member of the family and taught to act like a “normal” boy. But in a wink at “Frankenstein,” the narrow-minded people of the small Virginia town eventually turn on him. The vet’s daughter (played by Rachelle Wood) sings the lyrics, “He never knew what he was worth. I could not stop his fall. But in his precious hours on Earth, he taught us all: Let go the fears to which you cling. And through your tears, you’ll hear him sing.”

Flomberg quoted those very words at Perkes’ wake on Saturday night.

“There are very close parallels between Edgar and Adam,” Flomberg said. “The message of the show is about a young man who is rejected by society and is ultimately very alone. In essence, that was Adam, too.”

Moving forward does not exactly feel right, she said. But moving forward with Sugar does not exactly feel wrong.

“It’s exciting, in a way,” she said. “It’s flattering that he would do this.”

Perkes will be buried beside his infant sister Natasha in Hyde Park, Utah, on Saturday, March 2.

The family has asked that memorial donations be made in Perkes’ name to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) at 1100 Filmore St., Denver, 80206.

Equinox’s “Bat Boy, the Musical”: Ticket information

Showtimes: No performances March 1-2; then 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays March 8-9 and 15-16

Location: At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St.

Information and ticket sales: 720-984-0781 or the Bug Theatre’s home page

Nick Sugar directed the Town Hall Arts Center's 2009 staging of "Bat Boy," starring Mark Lively.  A 2005 production in Dillon starred Joshua Blanchard.

Nick Sugar directed the Town Hall Arts Center’s 2009 staging of “Bat Boy,” starring Mark Lively. A 2005 production in Dillon starred Joshua Blanchard.

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