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Rogers a light on stage and the small screen

July 10, 1997


Staff Writer

It's curtains for Gil Rogers these days, and the veteran actor couldn't be happier.

Rogers, a cast member of the CBS daytime soap opera "Guiding Light," is on stage for the next few weeks as part of Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

He's portraying a horse trainer named Carl in "Lighting Up the Two-Year-Old," one of three new plays being presented at the festival, which continues through Sunday, July 27.

Rogers is enjoying the chance to get away from the cameras and perform for a live audience.

"Live theater is the actor's medium," he said before a recent rehearsal at Frank Center for the Performing Arts. "Once that curtain goes up, it's ours. It beckons to us."


Rogers, 63, has worked in show business for 44 years. He has been in 19 movies, including "Pretty Poison" and "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings." In the most recent one, a horror film called "The Children," he played a sheriff trying to save a town.

He also played a sheriff on Broadway, portraying Ed Earl Dodd in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

But he's best known to fans for his daytime television roles.

Before joining the cast of "Guiding Light," Rogers played Ray Gardner on ABC's "All My Children" for five years.

"I was the meanest man they ever let on TV," he said of the character he played in the late '70s and early '80s. "As Ray, I raped and murdered my way through Pine Valley. The character was so popular, they couldn't get rid of him."

On "Guiding Light" he is Hawk Shayne, a good-natured fellow who always is up to something, whether it's setting someone up or romancing the richest woman in Springfield.

"He's a lovable reprobate, a rascal who has good qualities," he said. "He's always in trouble, or getting other people in trouble."

He just finished his 13th year with "Guiding Light," which is marking its 45th year on television and its 60th year in continuous production. Rogers said the show has undergone many changes recently - it has changed its head writer three times in the last year and now has a new executive producer.

Hawk is the father of the popular Reva Shayne Lewis, portrayed by Kim Zimmer. When Reva left the show five years ago, Hawk hung around awhile, then was sent to live in Italy.

Rogers said he was very pleased about Zimmer's return.

"She's one of those absolutely brilliant soap actors," he said.

Rogers lives in New York City with his wife, actress Margaret Hall. She plays Gertie the switchboard operator on "Remember WENN," a series that appears on American Movie Classics. Their daughter, Amanda, 23, also is an actress and has done a film and several commercials.

Rogers is taking a break from "Guiding Light" to perform in "Lighting Up the Two-Year-Old," Benjie Aerenson's drama about three men who conspire to kill a racehorse for the insurance money.

Rogers brings plenty of experience to his role as Carl. He grew up in Lexington, Ky., and he and his father have raised horses for years. One of their horses, Net Power, runs at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

The horses sometimes are named after personal events in his family. Rogers was spokesman for Grape Nuts cereal for five years, and one of their horses was called Nutty Grapes. A new foal is named Gertie's Hawk, after the characters that Rogers and his wife play on their television shows.

Rogers said he's always ready to try his hand at a really good script, and he relishes the chance to live in someone else's skin.

"The older I get, the more I enjoy creating a role for the first time," he said.


"Lighting Up the Two-Year-Old" starring Gil Rogers, J.P. Linton and Louis Lotorto, is playing on the main stage of Frank Center for the Creative Arts at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Shows are Thursday, July 17, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, July 19, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, July 20, at 2 p.m.; Wednesday, July 23, at 8 p.m., with a discussion afterward; Friday, July 25, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, July 26, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $22 for adults and $20 for senior citizens and students on Fridays and Saturdays; and $18 for adults and $16 for senior citizens and students on weekdays and for matinees.

For information, call 1-304-876-3473 or 1-800-999-CATF.

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