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.


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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Death of actor Adam Perkes: ‘He had so much left to share’

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

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


By John Moore
Feb. 21, 2013

Adam Perkes, a gifted young stage actor best known for his comic swagger on stage and his deep sensitivity off it, has died at age 27, the Garfield County coroner confirmed today.

Adam Perkes

Adam Perkes

In a recent playbill, Perkes used the space normally reserved for actors to talk about their own stage accomplishments as an opportunity to remind anyone in his audience “that all good things stem from simple acts of love.” He went on to express a deep sadness for the victims of the Aurora cinema shootings.

“The next time you feel like the world done you wrong,” he wrote, “eat a glazed donut.”

Perkes was found dead at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the bathtub of a room at the Hot Springs Lodge in Glenwood Springs. Police Chief Terry Wilson told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent there were indications that Perkes had consumed alcohol and pills before he died, and that foul play is not suspected. Wilson said he is awaiting a coroner’s report to determine if the death will be ruled as suicide or accidental.

Perkes was the star of the Equinox Theatre’s current staging of “Bat Boy, the Musical,” which had been scheduled to run through March 9 at the Bug Theatre. An announcement from the company will be made soon on whether the rest of the run will happen.

“My first thought was how much of a loss this is for the entire theater community, because he had so much left to share,” said Equinox Theatre Company producer Deb Flomberg.

The family has announced that a funeral service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 27) at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 9277 W. Dartmouth Place in Lakewood. A viewing will be held at the same address before the service from noon to 1 p.m.

Perkes, also a gifted pianist, was nominated for a 2010 Denver Post Ovation Award as best supporting actor in a comedy for his performance in the Miners Alley Playhouse’s “Habeas Corpus” in Golden. A bespectacled Perkes was remarkable in playing a doctor’s grotesquely awkward – and libidinous – son.

Kestrel Burley, Adam Perkes and Theresa Reid in the Miners Alley Playhouse's "Habeas Corpus" in 2010.

Kestrel Burley, Adam Perkes and Theresa Reid in the Miners Alley Playhouse’s “Habeas Corpus” in 2010.

Wrote Juliet Wittman of Westword: “Where did they get the expectorating Adam Perkes? He cuts loose only once or twice as Dennis, but when he does, his lunacy is inspired.” Added Craig Williamson of the North Denver Tribune: “Adam Perkes captures the pimple-faced hypochondriac son with an appropriate amount of whining and sniveling.”

Perkes also played Leonard Irving in Equinox’s production of “In the Next Room, or The Vibrator play,” and as Modred in Performance Now’s “Camelot” at the Lakewood Cultural Center.

More recently, Perkes took on the monster role of the barber Pirelli in the Ignite Theatre’s ambitious and bloody “Sweeney Todd.” In his program bio, Perkes said he was “tickled red” to be playing the role in one of his favorite musicals.

His bio goes on to say:

“Acting is perhaps his second favorite activity in all of London and he is grateful and proud to be able to be given the opportunity. He would like to thank his friends for their emotional support and his family for keeping him alive. Adam would like to remind his audience that all good things stem from simple acts of love. His heart and prayers go out to everyone directly (and indirectly) affected by The Century 16 shootings. Enjoy the show and next time you feel like the world done you wrong, eat a glazed donut.”

“This is a crushing shock,” said Boni McIntyre, who played Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd.” “I can’t seem to stop the tears right now.”

McIntyre said Perkes was the most patient actor she has ever met. “He would sit through hours of rehearsal for his one moment to shine,” she said. “He never complained, and he was always spot-on and hilarious. He was someone you wanted to be around because he had such great energy. The twinkle that was always in his eye seemed irrepressible.”

Theater blogger David Marlowe wrote of Perkes’ performance in “Sweeney Todd”:  “Adam Perkes’ Pirelli is yet another in a string of superbly crafted manic characterizations.” Added Michael Mulhern of BroadwayWorld.com: “Adam Perkes stole the show with his over-the-top, hilarious interpretation of Pirelli.”

Adam Michael Perkes was born Nov. 25, 1985, to parents Brent and Brenda Sue, and was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Bear Creek High School. “His commencement speech had us all on the floor at Red Rocks,” said Connie Helsley, owner of the Heritage Square Music Hall in Golden and mother to one of Perkes’ close high-school friends. He will be so missed.”

Perkes went on to graduate from the University of Colorado-Boulder with honors from the English department specializing in creative writing.

Recently, Perkes submitted an audition tape to the Starz/Encore Network for an upcoming reality show. Here’s how he described himself: “Generally, people like me. I have pretty good fashion sense … and I look really good in hats.” (See video below.)

Flomberg said Perkes was particularly relishing the opportunity to play the Bat Boy because it was one of his first opportunities to play a leading role in the Denver theater community. That – and because the job got him recently featured in the infamous Weekly World News tabloid. “Bat Boy Spotted in Denver Theatre,” the headline screamed.

“My nipples have been featured in a tabloid,” Perkes wrote on his Facebook page. “I have reached the top.”

“Bat Boy” is an irreverent musical inspired by the very same tabloid’s account of a half boy/half bat creature discovered in a cave near Hope Falls, W.V. In the story, the town veterinarian takes the Bat Boy into his home as a member of the family — until the narrow-minded people of the town turn on him.

Wrote “The Playwright Priest,” Patrick Dorn: “Perkes is uncanny as Bat Boy. His character arc and transformation from a terrified cave creature to a Milton-esque superman/monster is phenomenal.”

Perkes was raised Mormon and often wrote with equal parts cleverness, humor and poignance about his life and personal struggles on Facebook. In one section, he teases God for not making him a lesbian. “I’m deeply disappointed by my sexual interest in men,” he wrote. During Facebok’s recent “Doppelganger Week,” Perkes replaced his profile picture with that of actor Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”).

On a more serious note, Perkes quotes Oscar Wilde in his “about me” description, saying, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

Perkes is survived by his parents, siblings, Skyler James (23), Chorus Ann (15), Charity Rose (12) and Sean David (8); grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. He was preceded in death by his sister, Natasha.

“The family will greatly miss his dramatic flair and sharp wit,” Perkes’ funeral-home obituary says. “Adam was, and is, greatly loved by many. He will be deeply missed until we meet again.”

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.


Adam Perkes’ audition video Starz/Encore:

Adam Perkes submitted this video to apply to be on an upcoming road trip reality show. In it, he explains that he normally has “gorgeous blonde, curly hair,” but that he shaved it to star in the Equinox Theatre’s current production of “Bat Boy, the Musical.”

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