From opening Fancy Pants Theatre in 2010 to playing the flamboyant and devilish emcee in Farmer’s Alley Theatre’s production of Cabaret, 31-year-old actor, cosmetologist, improv artist and theater enthusiast Adam Carter was nothing short of effervescent; a fact many friends, fellow cast mates and audience members can attest to.
“Adam took a genuine interest in people; what they had to say or how they felt. He really cared and wanted everyone to discover and honor their authentic self,” colleague and friend Jennifer Hudson-Prenkert said. “He was so inspiring with his vivacious energy and shining spirit. One could not ignore his light.”
Carter suffered a severe brain injury after a fall on Thursday night and died late Friday, February 6 at Borgess Medical Center. Over the weekend, the Gull Lake graduate and Kalamazoo-based actor has been honored as one of the kindest, most exuberant and sparkling personalities the theater scene in Kalamazoo has ever known.
“I am devastated by the loss of Adam Carter,” Kalamazoo area director Kathy Mulay said in an email. “His unique style and infectious joy lifted me daily. I loved that young man.”
Mulay directed Carter in Blood Brothers and Cabaret at Farmer’s Alley Theatre after teaching him in an Education for the Arts (EFA) acting class during his junior year of high school. He was also a founding member of the Crawlspace Eviction improv troupe, where he performed with Tara Sytsma as part of comedic improv duo T&A. Recently Carter was the host of several movie screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Kalamazoo.
“He was magical [in Cabaret] and I was personally thrilled to be a witness to his dream of playing the emcee come true,” Hudson-Prenkert said. “I was honored to get my chance to perform with Adam professionally in Cabaret. I will always cherish that time and experience I had with my dear friend.”
Whether Carter was starring in a scripted show or performing with his improv troupe, there is no denying his talent.
“I have enjoyed seeing Adam at Crawlspace several times. He was very skilled at the art of improvisation,” Gull Lake Drama teacher Robin Nott said.
Nott met Carter when he first joined Gull Lake’s Performing Arts Company (PAC) in 2001. Carter played a comic role in PAC’s state tour show Cut which placed second at state finals that year. Carter was recognized for his talents, receiving several awards for excellence during his involvement with PAC.
“Adam was a joyful soul and he was a courageous individual, championing freedom of expression,” Nott said. “Word has spread throughout PAC about his passing. This spring we will dedicate an evening of the One Act Playfest to Adam’s memory.”
Carter wasn’t only known for his acting and directing; he was also recognized as a talented makeup artist and hairstylist, working in salons and on movie sets in Michigan.
“I feel very lucky to have had Adam as a part of our team when we moved our salon into our new location,” said Shannon Milan, owner of Milan The Style Shop where Carter worked as a stylist. “He made us all feel the salon would be unstoppable. His humor was priceless to have in the salon everyday.”
In addition to working around Kalamazoo, Carter worked as a hair, makeup and costume stylist on a film premiering in Los Angeles next week. The film “Do You Believe?” stars Lee Majors, Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin and Cybill Shepherd, among other big names and was filmed in Manistee, Michigan. Carter was due to walk the red carpet at the premier, and it has recently been announced that the movie will be dedicated to him when it is released in theaters on March 20.
“He was so talented as an artist,” Hudson-Prenkert said. “But in my opinion his true gift was living life to the fullest with no regrets.”
Family members, friends, fellow cast members and many others affected by Carter have taken to social media to share their memories and photos of him as well as to create a page for donations to the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. The page titled “Adam’s Hullabaloo” was created by his family in lieu of flowers and has raised over $10,000 in his name.
“Through the outpouring of sentiments on social media, it’s become obvious that everyone that Adam came in contact with had a ticket to the Adam Carter show,” Jason Milan said. “He invited everyone in and made you feel like you were his best friend.”
Visitation will be held at Redmond Funeral Home from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, February 13. Carter’s funeral has been moved from the Epic Center to the State Theatre in anticipation of a large outpouring of community support. The funeral is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. at the State Theatre on Saturday, February 14.
by Mili Renuart