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Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 20 Jul 2015 20:21:00 -0700
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Friends of the Dickens Forum,

     To our memories of seeing the splendid 8 1/2 hour stage version of 
Nickleby" Robert Newsom <[log in to unmask]> adds a personal note
about the recently deceased Roger Rees.  His description of Rees's room 
and the
physical exertions of his role alerts us to the basic hard work that all 
who took part in that
production--not to mention Dickens himself--threw themselves into on the 
side of the footlights: (pjm)
> I was saddened by the news last week of the death of Roger Rees, whose
> performance as Nicholas in the Royal Shakespeare Company's *Life and
> Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby* was among the greatest in the long line of
> great Dickensian stage and film adaptations.
> I did not see Rees live during the play's run in New York in 1981-82, but a
> colleague and I did pay him a call trying to interest him in a proposed
> for-TV production on Dickens that was looking for an actor to do
> voice-overs of passages from the novels and other works .(Our idea was to
> pay attention to the Dickens voice that usually gets left out of the screen
> adaptations, that of the omniscient narrator, and we wanted to know if Rees
> would be suitable and amenable. He entirely was, but, alas, nothing came of
> our idea.)
> We met Rees in his tiny and very modest hotel room, which barely had room
> for a twin bed and a massage table. He told us that when not playing
> Nicholas (eight or more hours a day most days) and when not sleeping, he
> was liable to be on the table getting physical therapy as a consequence of
> the acrobatically terribly demanding role.
> He also gave detailed instructions on how we could crash the gate at the
> interval in the play between parts one and two, but we were not ourselves
> adventurous enough to do that.(And tickets were $100, which was a novelty
> in 1981 and then out of my reach.)
> It wasn't until I saw the TV broadcast of the London production the
> following year that I could appreciate how much the actor suited his part,
> for Rees was every bit as good humored and enthusiastic, as willing to try
> anything, as was his Nicholas.
> The DVDs of the RSC Nickleby are out of print and very expensive and seem
> to be unavailable for streaming, I'm sorry to say.