Zach Perrin — a 2015 alum of Our Lady of the Hills Regional Catholic School and a former performer at Kerrville’s community theater, Playhouse 2000 — is having a banner year as an actor: This summer, he plays the lead role in “Texas,” a professional stage musical produced outdoors annually, sponsored by the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation.
Perrin, who’s performed as a dancer in the production for the past two summers, will take the stage this year as the protagonist, Calvin Armstrong.
The show, which features a script by Pulitzer-winning playwright Paul Green, direction by “Texas” artistic and executive director Dave Yirak, and a cast of about 50 actors, is performed at the outdoor Pioneer Ampitheater in Palo Duro Canyon each year.
While Perrin recently graduated from West Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in musical theater and his star is shining bright, his roots are right here in Kerrville. Homeschooled through his freshman year of high school, he participated in Shakespeare classes and other coursework in the arts.
“My parents liked us to be really well-rounded,” Perrin said.
His sophomore year of high school — his first year at Our Lady of the Hills — he performed in a “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as Nick Bottom. The show won the TAPPS one-act play state championship in 2012. He also won a “best actor” award for the role at both both the regional and state competitions, Perrin said, and later performed in Moliere’s “The Miser” at OLH.
“It may sound cliche to say that a performer gives 100 percent in each rehearsal as well as each performance, but in reference to Zach, it is no cliche,” said Sterline Marcum, an English teacher and former theater teacher at OLH, who coordinates and directs the annual one-act production. “His disciplined work ethic, along with his great acting, singing and dancing talents, are why he has the lead in ‘Texas’ this summer.”
Perrin said he probably wouldn’t have continued pursuit of a theater career if it weren’t for his time at OLH.
“With the help of Sterline (Marcum), I realized that I could possibly go on and do this for a life thing, so after sophomore year (of high school), I started really focusing on that and pushing that, and then ever since, things have just nailed right,” Perrin said.
Perrin also did several shows with Playhouse 2000 in high school, including “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in 2014, P2K’s AACTFest one-act, “Bus Riley is Back in Town,” in 2015, and “The Pirates of Penzance” in 2015.
“Bus Riley is Back in Town” was a runner-up to the national festival at the regional AACTFest competition, according to Jeff Brown, executive director of P2K.
“Zach was a talented kid — big voice, great ‘presence,’ moved really well,” Brown recalled. “And he was easy to work with, actually fun to have in the cast.”
Brown added that his P2K colleagues have been proud to watch Zach progress through his university program and up the ranks of roles in “Texas,” and they’re excited to continue to follow his career progress.
Perrin said “Joseph” was his first musical, and after doing it along with “The Pirates of Penzance” — as well as seeing the national tour of “Wicked” in San Antonio — he realized his first love was musical theater, and he’s thankful for P2K’s role in helping him realize his dreams.
“I love musicals, because not only do you get the acting that helps push that forward, but you also get the music along with potential dancing … and all of this together can make you feel something you can’t otherwise feel in a straight (non-musical) show,” Perrin said. “When all of it comes together in the right way, it pulls something out of you that I think is so beautiful.”
After this summer’s performance in “Texas,” Perrin plans to audition at regional professional auditions this fall and then move to Dallas for about a year to feel out the theater scene there.
His ultimate plan is to move to Washington, D.C. — often lauded these days as the second-biggest theater city in the United States after New York — next spring or summer and act full-time professionally.
“Texas” opened Saturday night and will continue in Palo Duro Canyon six nights a week for the remainder of the summer, with shows at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, through Aug. 17.
Tickets range from $14.25 for a child to $34.05 for an adult, with military and senior discounts.
“Thousands of people will see Zach perform the beloved role of Calvin on a massive stage set in beautiful Palo Duro Canyon all summer long,” said Marcum. “Taking a weekend to enjoy the rugged beauty of Palo Duro Canyon to watch a Kerrville boy do well would be a wonderful summer trip.”