One of Roger Rees’ lesser-known roles

by Anne E. Johnson

As a besotted fan of the late Welsh actor Roger Rees, I collect the many works to which he contributed. Audiobooks and made-for-TV movies are especially fun ones to find. Yesterday I acquired a TV film called God’s Outlaw, about proto-Protestant William Tyndale, who risked his life to translate the Bible into English during Luther’s early days.
 
To be honest, I was dreading it, but I braved a viewing out of love for Roger. With the story’s shamelessly subjective bent in favor of Church of England (apparently only the Catholics ever did anything ill advised or selfish), it should have been unwatchable nonsense, yet it was surprisingly well done. Then again, when you people a cast with nothing but classically trained British character actors, there’s only so bad a piece can be. I particularly enjoyed Keith Barron as the fickle and irascible Henry VIII.
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Roger Rees as William Tyndale in “God’s Outlaw.”

A belated farewell to Roger Rees

I must admit, when Roger Rees died in July of this year, the news turned me upside down. I’d never met him, but he was part of my life. Ever since I saw Nicholas Nickleby on PBS as a high schooler in the 1980s, Roger Rees was a piece of the mosaic that was my mind. And that brought me joy. Whenever I learned he was in something, it made me look forward even more to whatever it was.

So, when he left this earth, I felt pretty lost, as if I’d had unexpected–if minor– surgery on my soul.

On Monday, September 21, 2015, Disney on Broadway helped me fill in that little hole in my soul’s fabric. I am grateful that the beautiful memorial they sponsored at the New Amsterdam Theatre was open to the public, so I got to witness the love of Rees’  family, friends, and colleagues and share in their grief and joyous memories. As if I belonged. As if my grief for this wonderful man mattered in some kind of cosmic way.

So now I’m ready to say it: Goodbye, Roger Rees, and thank you from the bottom of my heart.