Internet Shakespeare Editions


Roger Rees Wows in Shakespeareans in "What You Will" Performance

by Jim Volz. Written on 2012-03-17. Published in Reviews from the ISE Chronicle.


Add one part worst student Shakespeare essays ever written, two parts George Bernard Shaw and Stevie Wonder commentary, three parts Henry V, Hamlet, King Lear and all parts of Tony Award-winning actor Roger Rees始 charm, finesse and virtuoso performance and you have one terrifically engaging night of theatre.

Headlining the opening event of the international Shakespeare Theatre Association conference in Orlando, Florida, Roger Rees始 What You Will: An Evening By and About the Bard, charmed, cajoled, delighted and captured the imagination of a packed-house in the Margeson Theatre of the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre.

Perhaps best known to American audiences for his roles on The West Wing and Cheers, Roger Rees is most celebrated for his Olivier and Tony Award performances as the lead character in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

Currently at work on Rick Elice始s new play, Peter and the Starcatcher (set to open on Broadway next Spring), Mr. Rees also played Gomez in The Addams Family on Broadway. Peter and the Starcatcher will be directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers and is based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.

What You Will is a fast-paced, one-man show blending theatrical disaster stories, cuttings from Shakespeare始s greatest comedy/drama/tragic hits, and pithy musings from the likes of Charles Dickens, James Thurber, D.H. Lawrence, Voltaire and elementary schools students. The “bad Bard” essay quotes (most likely culled from British miscreants as everyone knows that American grammar school students know their Shakespeare) are among the most entertaining comic moments of the night.

Sponsored by the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, What You Will will long be remembered for mesmerizing a tough audience of Shakespeare producers while skillfully and playfully tackling many of the Bard始s most challenging words and works. Hot on the heals of the dastardly treatment of William Shakespeare as a bumbling, illiterate fool in the recent movie Anonymous, Roger Rees helped restore order among faithful followers and emerged triumphant before a standing ovation of howling admirers.

Jim Volz, Editor, Shakespeare Theatre Association始s quarto鈥 Professor, Theatre, California State University, Fullerton

Jim Volz is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, former CEO/Managing Director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and the author of seven books, including HOW TO RUN A THEATRE (Methuen Drama/2011), WORKING IN AMERICAN THEATRE (Methuen Drama/2011), and SHAKESPEARE NEVER SLEPT HERE. He has produced over 100 professional productions, consulted for over 100 theatres and professional arts groups, and written over 100 articles for publication in newspapers, magazines, books and journals. He may be reached at