A memorial tribute will be held for Roger Rees, the legendary Tony Award-winning actor, and Tony Award nominated director, on Monday, September 21 at 1:00 PM at the New Amsterdam Theatre (214 W 42nd Street, NYC). Doors will open at 12:30 PM, with general admission seating available to the public.
Rees passed away on July 10 at the age of 71. The cause of death was brain cancer.
Roger Rees attended the world-renowned Slade School of Fine Art before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company and in 1967. His roles with the RSC included Malcolm in the acclaimed Trevor Nunn 1976 stage and 1978 television production of Macbeth, Tusenbach in Three Sisters, Semyon in The Suicide, Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors, Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Hamlet. Most famously, Rees created the title role in the original production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, David Edgar’s stage adaptation of the Dickens novel, winning both the Olivier Award and Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play in 1982. In London’s West End, he starred in the original productions of two plays by Tom Stoppard, The Real Thing in 1982 and Hapgood in 1988, both opposite Felicity Kendal. In 1986, he starred opposite Jane Lapotaire in the original West End production of his own thriller, Double Double, co-written with Rick Elice.
From 1987-88, Rees served as Associate Artistic Director for the Bristol Old Vic, where he directed productions of Julius Caesar, Turkey Time and John Bull.
Rees began to work in television during the 1970s, appearing opposite Laurence Olivier in The Ebony Tower (1984). From 1988 to 1991 he starred in the late 80s/early 90s British sitcom Singles, with co-star Judy Loe. From 1989 to 1991 and in 1993, he had a recurring role on the long-running TV series Cheers as the English tycoon Robin Colcord. Later television appearances include My So-Called Life as substitute teacher Mr. Racine, British Ambassador Lord John Marbury on The West Wing and James MacPherson on Warehouse 13.
His film career began in 1983 when Bob Fosse cast him to star in Star 80 opposite Mariel Hemingway. Rees played the Sheriff of Rottingham in Mel Brooks’ film, Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). Later film appearances include Julie Taymor’s Frida (2002) and Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (2006).
Rees’ first Broadway credit was opposite Donald Sinden in London Assurance in 1974. Continuing his theatre work in New York through the 1990s, Rees won the Obie Award for his 1992 performance in Jon Robin Baitz’s The End of the Day, directed by Mark Lamos. In 1995 he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for Indiscretions, starring with Kathleen Turner, Eileen Atkins, Jude Law and Cynthia Nixon, directed by Sean Mathias. The following year, he was back on Broadway in Anouilh’s The Rehearsal, directed by Nicholas Martin. He followed that with The Uneasy Chair, opposite Dana Ivey, directed by Richard Cottrell, and Moliere’s The Misanthrope, opposite Uma Thurman, directed by Barry Edelstein. In 2000, Rees starred opposite Derek Jacobi and Laura Linney in Uncle Vanya, directed by Michael Mayer. In 2002, he starred opposite Faith Prince and Steven Pasquale in the Lincoln Center production of the McNally/Ahrens & Flaherty musical, A Man of No Importance, directed by Joe Mantello.
In November 2004, Rees was named Artistic Director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, only the fourth person to hold the post in its half century history. He served in that capacity through 2007.
In 2010, he starred opposite Ian McKellan in Sean Matthias’ production of Waiting for Godot at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London, and subsequently on tour throughout Australia, New Zealand and, most memorably, South Africa. In 2011, Rees succeeded Nathan Lane in the role of Gomez in the Broadway production of The Addams Family, in which he played for ten months. His final West End appearance was in the acclaimed presentation of his one-man show, What You Will, an homage to William Shakespeare, at the Apollo Theatre in the fall of 2012. In 2013, Rees returned to Broadway, receiving rave reviews as Arthur Winslow in Terrence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy.
Rees was a noted stage director for two decades, with productions at Roundabout Theatre Company, New York Theatre Workshop and Playwrights Horizons in New York, The Old Globe in San Diego, La Jolla Playhouse, The Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC, Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, and on Broadway. For the popular production of Peter and the Starcatcher, Rick Elice’s stage adaptation of the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, co-directed with Alex Timbers, Rees received an Obie Award and a Tony nomination for Best Direction of a Play. The production went on to win five Tony Awards in 2012.
Rees’ final Broadway appearance was opposite the legendary Chita Rivera in the McNally/Kander & Ebb musical, The Visit, directed by John Doyle, which opened on April 23, 2015.
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in FebOne1960.com Blog, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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