Name: Andrew Aleri Rodgers
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Colorado Springs, but quickly emigrated (not of my own accord, I was two) northward to Loveland, Colorado. The Sweetheart City (seriously, check out their valentines re-mailing program) was my hometown for most of my formative years. I then matriculated at the Ira Brind School of Theatre Arts at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia (or IBSOTA for the acronymically-inclined), where, among other ambitions, I developed a serious love for Stage Combat. I joined the ranks of the Society of American Fight Directors, and quickly attained the rank of Advanced Actor-Combatant. But that has nothing to do with the question.
How long have you been in Austin?
I moved to Austin in the early summer of 2010, right after I received my Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree from the abovementioned University. Since then I’ve visited a couple of lovely coffee shops, had my car towed, and even visited a lake/river. I was an assistant manager at the House of Torment, where I had the distinction of making Jessica Alba scream and jump a couple feet into the air. I also managed to make a reporter from FOX News just about pee herself. Good Times.
I also remember bats. Oh yeah, and I worked with a couple of fantastic people, and even got to choreograph some violence for Titus Andronicus with the Last Act Theater Company. My choreography got me a lot of attention, a nod from the Austin Chronicle, and I even won an award from RAW: Natural Born Artists (Austin Chapter) for Performing Artist of the Year. There was acting there too. (Ed. Note: Even some on his part)
Who are some of the the folks you’re playing in Messenger No. 4?
Really just the one. You know… Messenger No. 4. You know, THAT one.
What was the very first show you did ever in your entire life?
When I was three years old, my aunt Emily directed Charlotte’s Web for Bill Reed Middle School in Loveland.
Apparently even then, students weren’t volunteering for embarrassing roles, so my aunt bribed me and my siblings with candy bars to be ducklings. We got into the fuzzy yellow suits, complete with bills, and walked across the stage, flapping our wings, saying “Quack Quack!” We brought down the house with laughter. Side note- That night I shared the stage with now-famous actor Kyle Howard, who you may have seen in such movies as House Arrest, The Paper Brigade, and the recent TV show My Boys. It’s not relevant in the least, but it’s interesting.
What is the single most fun thing you’ve ever gotten to do on stage?
Tough Call. I think the most exciting this I’ve ever gotten to do is celebrate Christmas as a zombie. My senior year of college, my school partnered with award-winning theatrical think-tank New Paradise Laboratories for the show MORT. It was a three-part devised piece centering around death and the afterlife. It was loosely based around Dante’s Inferno, and the third part was the inferno. We made it into a zombie wasteland where we were celebrating Christmas, complete with presents, Santa Hanging by a noose, and even a zombie Ballet. The audience was arranged in and around the playing space, so at any point, there was a zombie two or three feet from any given audience member. We ran full speed around and in between audience members, brushing their hair, blowing on them, reenacting our deaths, and horrifying them with pictures of ourselves when we were children. we made people weep, we made them scream, and we made them laugh. I even got to threaten someone whose cell phone went off. There’s nothing like an angry zombie to make one turn one’s cell phone to vibrate.
What moment on stage do you wish you could go back and erase from history?
Upon a Midnight Dreary, October 2010. It was a great re-imagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, with two fantastic actors (Karen Alvarado and Travis Bedard). I choreographed the violence, and it was my first show in Austin. We got great press, but we were forced to use some sub-standard props. In the script, the main character has a gun go off right by her ear, and is deafened while her husband is shot. We were using a two-dollar cap gun that I purchased at HEB. It didn’t matter how many times I addressed and tested the cap gun, it was notoriously unreliable. So much so that on the second night of the show, it failed to fire despite having the trigger pulled ten times. In front of the audience. With me cowering in fear before the gun.
Twenty agonizingly silent seconds passed before eventually, our stage manager got the hint, and brought the lights down while I screamed in “pain,” trying to cover the fact that the gun never went off. Add to that the fact that all of our sound cues were ten seconds delayed that night, and we had reviewers in the audience. It was an entirely forgettable night of theater.
What about Messenger No. 4 are you most excited to be sharing with an audience?
I am beyond excited to be working with this incredible cast. Every moment I spend with them sinks me deeper in awe with the incredible talent and creativity of these people. For my first leading role, I could not have asked for co-stars and co-workers this amazing. Every second these people are on stage, they are committed to bringing not just entertainment, but excitement and intrigue to the audience. When I first met the cast, I drove home in a funk, utterly depressed- I was convinced that after hearing all of us read the script, I was about to be fired from the role of M4 because there was no way I could ever keep up with these people. They were way too funny and way too clever for me to be in the same production. But seeing all of us grow together and seeing this show develop has been an incredible experience. To say that they keep me humble and on my toes would be an understatement. They keep me so much on my toes that I keep falling over, whilst they point and laugh. But it’s okay, because I’m laughing right along with them. This show is amazing because of the incredible cast, no question.