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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Remembering Roger Rees 1944 - 2015

I was lucky enough to see Roger Rees in the 1995 Broadway play, Indiscretions (Les Parents Terribles), for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play. He also received a nomination for Best Direction of a Play for Peter and the Starcatcher in 2012, and in 1982, he won the award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance in the title role of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

The Welsh actor, who died Friday at age 71, began his career with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967, and he made his Broadway debut in the 1974 revival of the comedy, London Assurance. In 2011, he replaced Nathan Lane as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family musical, and his final role was in 2015's The Visit opposite Chita Rivera. Rees also played a gay bus conductor in the 2002 Off-Broadway musical, A Man of No Importance, and he was the artistic director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival from 2004 to 2007.

His television credits include the British sitcom, Singles (1988-89), and the NBC sitcom, Cheers (as Rebecca's rich love interest, Robin Colcord, from 1989 to 1993). Rees also played Prince Charles (opposite Catherine Oxenberg) in the 1992 ABC movie, Charles and Diana: Unhappily Ever After, as well as the recurring role of British Ambassador Lord John Marbury on NBC's The West Wing from 2000 to 2005. And he received a 1983 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special for the filmed version of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

Rees also appeared in such films as Star 80 (1983), If Looks Could Kill (1991), Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), The Substance of Fire (1996), Sudden Manhattan (1996), Trouble on the Corner (1997), Next Stop Wonderland (1998), Frida (2002) and The Prestige (2006).

Rees is survived by his husband, playwright Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, The Addams Family, Peter and the Starcatcher), whom he met in 1982 and married in 2011.

Below I've selected some videos to celebrate the life and career of Mr. Rees.

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1981)

Cheers (1990)

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

The American Theatre Wing's Working in the Theatre panel with Betty Buckley, Liz Callaway, Valerie Harper, Brian Murray and Frances Sternhagen (September 1995)

The Addams Family commercial with Brooke Shields (2011)

Theater Talk with Rees and Rick Elice (June 2, 2012)

A Screen Actors Guild Foundation interview moderated by Rick Elice (August 7, 2012)

The Visit with Chita Rivera and Terrence McNally (2015)

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