Your visit with us was much too short, Roger.
This past weekend, the theater lost one of its finest actors and finest gentlemen when Roger Rees passed away at the all too early age of 71.
Most people know Roger from his work on Cheers (just the thought of him as the foppish Robin Colcord makes me crack up to this day), but it was the stage where he made his home, winning a Tony for his role in the epic The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, and getting nominations for Shadowlands, Six Degrees of Separation, Indiscretions and as the co-director of Peter and the Starcatcher.
And I knew him from his work on this season’s The Visit.
“Knew him” is a bit of an exaggeration actually. The truth is I didn’t know him all that well. That’s why at the meet and greet on the very first day of rehearsal I walked up to him and said, “Hello, Roger, my name is Ken Davenport and I just wanted to . . . ”
“KEN,” He practically screamed, “I’m so happy to meet you! I can’t believe we haven’t met before,” and he pulled me in for a hug. Yeah. Me, hugging Robin Colcord.
We chatted a bit about the show, and he told me how excited he was for it, and how he was so in love with the story . . . and how thankful he was that it was getting its shot on Broadway. “This is what real theater is about, Ken. This is what real theater is about,” he repeated.
I saw him from time to time at and around the show. But that’s it. No dinners or lunches or texts or anything.
But I tell you, in that brief exchange, I got a glimpse into the heart of Roger Rees. And what a beautiful place it was.
Roger, you are what real theater is about. You are.
And you’ll be missed.
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