BWW Exclusive: Hugh Panaro Remembers Roger Rees, as Broadway Dims Its Lights Tonight in His Memory

BWW Exclusive: Hugh Panaro Remembers Roger Rees, as Broadway Dims Its Lights Tonight in His MemoryBroadway recently lost one of its brightest in Roger Rees, the astonishing actor who landed on our shores at the beginning of the '80s with THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF NICHOLAS NICKELBY.

The theatre community lost him on July 10, and ever since, his colleagues, friends, fans and family have been sharing their sorrow and expressing their love via social media. BroadwayWorld was there over the course of the weekend, and these were some of the people who weighed in with us to share their grief. Rees has also been beautifully remembered (which is a rare occurrence) by the media at large, including everyone from CNN to ABC.

Tonight, at 7:45 p.m., Broadway will dim its lights in his memory. About continuing this longstanding ritual of honor on the Great White Way for Rees, Broadway League Executive Director Charlotte St. Martin had the following to say: "We are so fortunate that Roger Rees has graced our stages through the years and inspired us with his brilliant talent. In addition to his acting and directing accomplishments, his generous heart and warm, giving spirit will be greatly missed by his family, friends and fans."

After the news of Rees' death, we had been looking to speak with Hugh Panaro, who appeared onstage with Rees in the musical version of THE RED SHOES, which played 51 previews and closed three nights after it opened.

Panaro has been on the road doing concerts and busy in preparation for his debut recording, but we were finally able to reach him today, and he shared this with us:

BWW Exclusive: Hugh Panaro Remembers Roger Rees, as Broadway Dims Its Lights Tonight in His Memory"We all have 'Broadway war stories,' and I got to share one with the extraordinary Roger Rees, during the crazy trip to Broadway of the musical THE RED SHOES.

We were so excited to be a part of history in this adaptation of the classic film, which would have a score by Jule Styne. As for me, I would get the opportunity to co-star with a legendary and accomplished actor.

The workshop that Roger and I were a part of was directed by Susan Schulman. When the Broadway production went into rehearsal, Stanley Donen was at the helm.

I have two distinct memories of Roger. The first was the day of the initial read-thru. As a result of ALL OF US 'acting up a crazy storm, full-on' Roger took his time, slipping in slowly and with meaning, finding his way. LESSON LEARNED!

The second memory was of how much FUN he was. Being the professional that he was, I will never forget the day he showed up at a rehearsal, during the first week, with a box of SWAG, sent to him by the studio of ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS. He threw it down and we all put on pieces and wore them all day, in rehearsal. Funny and fun and pure Roger Rees.

The show was short-lived and Roger was actually replaced just days before our Opening Night, after a series of brutal previews.

I don't think anyone was sadder than I. As a matter of fact, I think I saw him moments after he was told.

Our business isn't always what it seems, but, then again, I got to cross paths with greatness.

Roger Rees was in a class all his own and I extend my love and prayers to his family, friends, collaborators, fellow artists and, of course, his husband, Rick Elice.

'Good-night sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest' - spoken by Horatio in Shakespeare's HAMLET, Act V - Scene II"

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