ROGER REES, British-born actor, born (d: 2015); A Welsh born American actor, Rees created the title role in the original production of the play The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, winning both an Olivier and Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play in 1982 for it.
He also starred in the original production of The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard in London in 1984. Rees became an American citizen in 1989, and in the 1990s, continued his work in the theatre, both as an actor and a director. He did some television work in the 1970s and began his film career in the 1980s.
From 1989 to 1993, he appeared intermittently on the long-running American TV series Cheers as the dashing, feckless English tycoon “Robin Colcord.” He then played an antagonist to a different Robin as the Sheriff of Rottingham, in Mel Brooks’ 1993 film, Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Later television appearances include My So Called Life as substitute teacher “Mr. Racine” and British Ambassador Lord John Marbury on The West Wing. He was awarded an OBIA for his 1992 performance in the off-Broadway play The End of the Day, and in 1995, he was nominated for a Tony for Best Actor in a Play for his role in Indiscretions.
In November 2004, Rees was named artistic director of the Williamstown Theater Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts, only the fourth person to hold the post in its half century.
Rees married his partner of thirty-three years, playwright Rick Elice, in 2011. Rees and Elice also collaborated professionally, including as co-playwrights of the comedic thriller Double Double. Elice co-wrote (with Marshall Brickman) the libretto for The Addams Family musical, the cast of which Rees had joined in March 2011. In 2012, Elice and Rees received Tony Award nominations for Elice’s stage adaptation and Rees’ co-direction of Peter and The Starcatcher.
After a diagnosis of brain cancer in October 2014, Rees focused his energy on his commitment to playing opposite Chita Rivera on Broadway in The Visit, the final musical written by John Kander and Fred Ebb. While undergoing two brain surgeries, two courses of radiation and ongoing chemotherapy, Rees managed to rehearse, preview and open in The Visit in April 2015. By the middle of May, it had become too difficult for him to speak, and he left the show. Rees died of brain cancer at age 71 at his home in New York on July 10, 2015. On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, the marquee lights at all the theatres on Broadway were dimmed in his honor.