University of Louisville
I graduated with a BFA in Acting from the University of Louisville in Kentucky. While there, I also received a Minor in Voice from the University of Louisville School of Music. I started my dance training with the School of the Louisville Ballet.
In addition to acting classes, I also took classes like Script Analysis, Voice, Movement, Diction, Stage Design, Stagecraft, Stage Makeup, and Directing. It was a very well-rounded approach.
The Department put their emphasis on the Master of Fine Arts program and the Undergrads got the crumbs. I am glad I was allowed to take some Graduate Level classes in Acting and Voice and Movement my final years.
This was on top of my Pre-Med studies – until I dropped that my Junior Year. I decided I would rather be poor and happy than rich and unhappy.
BFA Senior Project
All this instruction culminated in my BFA Project my Senior Year of the classic play Filumena. The play is about a prostitute who tells her long time lover/”husband” that 1 of her 3 sons is his. I played one of the 3 sons. I wore a gorgeous blue suit with a bit of sheen to the fabric.
The classic play has been made into a film several times. The most popular adaptation is with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, Marriage Italian Style. Below is the trailer.
The play was directed by my Department Adviser Professor James Tompkins. I love him. One of the most naturally funny, sharp wit and unique/individual persons I know. I am so grateful for all the time and effort he has put into my career. We still keep in touch – after ALL these years.
I have my Senior paper I wrote about my process in storage at my parent’s place. I will scan/upload next time I visit.
Another teacher that was very influential in my development was Lynne Norris. She applauded my training in Music and Dance and pushed me to continue it when others looked down on me for it. She was with Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago and the Broadway cast of Hair.
Transfer to CCM or NKU?
I strongly considered transferring to Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (CCM) or Northern Kentucky University. Their graduates constantly work on Broadway and consistently rank in Top 10 Colleges for Theatre. I had worked summer stock with graduates from both schools and they put me in touch with their Advisors for advice on how to get a paying job in Theatre.
I talked with both schools, but wouldn’t get a full scholarship to either, so I stayed at UofL and made my own curriculum. Besides, I had so many good friends, girlfriends and fraternity brothers at UofL. I was popular. I was the token “Artist” of my friends. I wasn’t Big Man on Campus, but I was popular.
I almost did Pippin at CCM one summer. I remember calling during Spring Break (while in Ft Lauderdale, FL) to find out results of my audition. Aubrey Berg (Chairman of the Dept) worked with me on my song. His assistant said he NEVER does that, so he must have been interested. Ultimately, he made a mistake and cast the other guy. 🙁
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures or video of me in any UofL shows. This was the days before high quality cellphone video and pictures and the Department doesn’t keep an official record.
The renowned voice and acting teacher Kristin Linklater did a 6 month sabbatical at UofL while I was there. She revolutionized the way you teach voice and movement using Shakespeare as text. It was definitely a milepost in my development as an actor. Read more about my journey with her by clicking here.
In addition to the Kristin Linklater training, I was also trained in Period acting by Professor Tompkins. We learned the different acting styles – Greeks, Moliere, Shakespeare) but to keep it grounded in reality at the same time.
That is what I like about the Classics. Our society has not really changed that much. We are dealing with same issues that the Greeks and Shakespeare did. Only the names change. Old men are always going to chase after young women. Men will always be greedy. People will always be hungry for food and power.
Through the UofL classical/traditional program, we had to take many academic courses in addition to acting classes.
Theatre History and Literature I and II were the weed out courses. These classes were required to graduate and the instructors made them as difficult as possible. I hated it, but you gotta do what you gotta do to get that piece of paper. I mean, I have never been asked about my Roister Doister in any audition. 😉
Improvisational Comedy and Commedia dell’arte
I also learned the basics of Improv Comedy and Commedia dell’arte from Professor Tompkins. He had one of the sharpest wits. He taught me how to trust my comedy instincts and those around me. I would have loved to gone to Italy and studied Commedia dell’arte, but I always got cast in summer stock productions. We both have a background in Dance and I think that also influences our dark sense of humor.
He drilled into me the 3 Fundamentals of Comedy: Surprise, Contrast and Exaggeration. After graduation, he asked me to come back and speak to one of his classes about working as an Actor. While I was on stage, he yelled out, “What are the 3 Fundamentals of Comedy?” I snapped to attention and yelled out the answer, like I was answering the Drill Sargent. They laughed, but the training is real.
I took Acting/Scene Study from all of the Faculty at one time or another. I really responded to Zan Sawyer-Dailey teaching from Actors Theatre of Louisville. She can really zero in on the essence of the scene – and what you are missing.
Scene Design and Stagecraft
I waited to take Scene Design and Stagecraft until my Senior Year. As an actor, I didn’t think it was a good use of my time. However, I excelled at them. The head of the Technical Department said if I had done that work as a Freshman, they would have tried harder to get me to switch majors. I considered doing that for extra money, but there are so many other talented designers out there that LIVE for that, so I decided not to pursue it.
I did a Work-Study program several semesters at the Theatre Dept. I earned a little money while learning about the Behind the Scenes operations of a theatre.
I think I will always be remembered for my makeup for Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (probably my favorite work of Shakespeare). I could hear Professor “KT” Terrell fall out of his chair in the middle of the 400 seat Playhouse Theatre where he was grading our work from. I came out on stage in a nude-colored Dance Belt (and not much else). I had a small black leg warmer on my right ankle and another matching one on my left hand (to distort the line like Michael Jackson often does). My interpretation was that Puck and the other Fairies are primarily dancers; they are always in motion. Forest stuff gets stuck in their hair/body, just like when you run thru the forest and burrs get stuck on your clothes. They didn’t care to clean them off. In fact, they love being a part of the forest. So after I did my makeup, I stuck parts of flowers, vines, etc in my hair, around my body and coming out of my hand and leg warmers.
I was inspired by the famous cover of Lord of the Flies (one of my favorite books) by Barron Storey.
See how Michael Jackson’s hand is distorted by the cast? He often wore a cast in many of his music videos. See “Bad” at the very beginning.
Also in “Black or White”. Go to mark 2:13.
Many world-class arts organizations are based in Louisville. By the time I graduated, I studied/appeared in productions at:
- Actors Theatre of Louisville (where many plays are given their pre-Broadway tryout during the Humana Festival of New American Plays)
- Louisville Ballet (one of the premiere regional ballet companies outside of NYC)
- Kentucky Opera (a stepping stone to the MET)
I spent so much time at the Kentucky Center for the Arts (with so many different organizations), many of the full-time employees thought I was an employee also. Because I knew the building so well, I was able to sneak in to see many productions.
One of my favorite memories was posing as a Technician for the 1st National Tour of Cats. This was at the height of the show’s mania. I borrowed a friend’s Cats sweatshirt and a headset from the UofL Playhouse Tech Dept. I stood in the back row and occasionally jotted down notes on a clipboard. Audience members even started asking me questions about the show. 🙂
Years later, I met the show’s choreographer Gillian Lynne in Las Vegas and told her the story. She laughed so hard and thumped me on the back. For such a tiny woman, she is surprisingly strong, like when Soleil Moon Frye/Punky Brewster was on Friends. LOL.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
I booked an Industrial (training) film for KFC while at UofL. I remember I played the Manager and an employee rushed up to me and breathlessly told me something. I can’t remember what exactly. When I told her to calm down, take a breath and then tell me again, the Director loved it and said keep doing that. I came up with that on the spot. I’d love to see/post it.
The very first commercial I ever booked was for Churchill Downs Racetrack. This is the famous track where they run the Kentucky Derby the first Saturday of every May. Being born and bred in KY, I felt so honored to book it! We shot many different scenes all day and they were able to edit several different commercials from all that footage. I was featured prominently in 2.
One was down at the track line. My horse came in, I yelled, picked up the girl next to me and kissed her. This was all improved on the set – and I got to kiss a girl. I love this job!
Another spot had me sitting on a track bench with a friend and we were reading newspapers that obscures our faces. Girls walk by, we put the newspapers down and watch them as they walk by. The audio was “I’m a Girl Watcher”, but they changed lyrics to “I’m a Bird Watcher”. The cardinal bird is the UofL mascot. Here is the original song.
I’d love to post these commercials if anyone has them.
These commercials ran for YEARS after I left Louisville. I was embarrassed because I never actually got paid for them. The slimy Agent/Casting Director said he mailed the check to my fraternity house and someone had cashed it. I talked to the bank and they referred me to the police. The police told me they know it was him and he has done it before, but they didn’t have enough proof to arrest him.
This is part of the reason why I am so pro-union. This could never happen on a SAG-AFTRA job (film/tv actors union). Sadly, this was before I joined SAG-AFTRA in 1996.
I always thought I’d join Equity (the stage actors union) first. I turned it down twice in Miami. Because of my Principal work in SAG-AFTRA, I can join Equity whenever I want – and can pay the initiation fee ($1600).
My Social Media links are at the bottom of every page.
From this website you can download Pictures, Headshots, Character and Body Shots, Behind the Scenes photos.
On the Resume‘ page, you can see some of the shows I’ve worked on.
On the Video page, are many reels from the various Film, TV, New Media, Industrial, and Theatre shows I have worked on. Many people call themselves an “actor”, but here you can actually see my work.
I have worked as a Bartender for longer than I want to admit. I can teach you how to make a proper Martini.
Of course, you will want to Contact me after watching all my video and reading this fabulous content.
There are many other Chris Rogers on IMDB, but I own the SAG-AFTRA name Chris Rogers. I tried to reserve the website name ChrisRogers dot com, but can’t because a writer in Texas owns that url.