"I want to be careful with how I say this," Reg Rogers says, "but there's a quality here that's just a little — just a little bit, just a little, little bit — like Jimmy Stewart in 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.'"
The versatile stage and screen actor returns to Yale Repertory Theatre this month to star in "The Enemy of the People." Rogers' previous Yale Rep appearances include a slew of tricky, multifaceted light and dark shows: "Rough Crossing," "Landscape of the Body" and "Figaro/Figaro."
"An Enemy of the People," Henrik Ibsen's story of a moral man's struggle against a greedy, business-minded government, is being revisited by Yale Rep with a new translation by Paul Walsh.
"Paul's adaptation is unbelievably wonderful, and there's a lot of humor in it," Rogers says. He's known Walsh for years, from productions at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis and ACT in San Francisco. Rogers is also old friends with Enrico Colantoni, who plays his brother/rival in "Enemy." Both actors were students at the Yale School of Drama in the early 1990s, as was the show's director James Bundy.
The ever-popular "An Enemy of the People," written in 1882, has gained new relevance in recent months. A Broadway revival is scheduled for this year, with a script revised by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins from a 2013 German production. Other regional theaters besides Yale Rep are also staging their own productions.
Rogers says "James [Bundy] thought this was the perfect thing to do at this time. Because of something Trump said about the media being an enemy of the people, he asked Paul if he could do a translation in like two months.
"There's no direct analogy, like 'This guy is Trump,' or 'This is Trump's message.' But the people in this town could have voted for Trump."
AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE plays Oct. 6 to 28 at the Yale University Theatre, 222 York St., New Haven. Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. plus an added Wednesday matinee Oct. 18 at 2 p.m. There is no Saturday matinee on Oct. 7. Tickets are $44-$90. 203-432-1234, yalerep.org.