Born and raised in Louisiana, Roger was encouraged as a pianist, songwriter and singer from an early age. His mother was a pioneering and flamboyant minister and piano player, his two brothers were R&B recording artists and country & gospel music was an integral part of his childhood. But drawn more to Hindemith and Bartók, at 16 he left his roots behind to study violin and viola at the University of Southern California and soon after moved to Manhattan to explore voice, theater and composition. After premiering song cycles using poetry of James Agee, Robert Frost and Dorothy Parker, early in 1980 Anderson was boldly paired with lyricist and DC Comics author Lee Goldsmith to write Shine, a musical about a bootblack. Based on the works of Horatio Alger and developed for Broadway by 20th Century Fox, much of the making and now infamous “un-making” of Shine is documented in Supporting Player, an autobiography by Richard Seff.
The joyful collaboration with Goldsmith continued with several other works including Chaplin, Beside the Seaside, Quality Street, Eldorado and Ladykiller, A Musical Noir. As a team they are recipients of numerous honors including the Carbonell Award for Chaplin, several ASCAP awards and the Broadway USA Award for Shine! (published by Samuel French). As a young composer, he was privileged to work closely with such master talents as Ernest Kinoy, Michael Smuin, Joe Layton, Vivian Matalon and Hal Prince.
In 2007, Chaplin made its UK premiere with directors Martin Connor and Bill Deamer at the Guildford School of Acting at the University of Surrey.
His musical, Abe, commissioned in 2008 by The Muddy River Opera Company in Quincy, Illinois, had its Lincoln Bicentennial premiere in February 2009 and is now licensed and published by Samuel French, Inc. Abe is a mature and powerful musical about Lincoln’s life prior to his presidency.
Shine! garnered new praise, strong reviews and awards of excellence as part of NYMF 2010 and the new version with orchestrations is now available for licensing by Samuel French.
In June 2012, the original 1981 Broadway-bound version of Chaplin had its London premiere at The Barbican Centre, Silk Street Theatre, produced by The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The musical was given a lavish production, including new orchestrations for 21 players.
Roger has also designed sound and composed incidental music for several productions in New York City, including Of Lives and Leaves at the Red Room, Andrew Reaches the Other Side at the Bank Street Theatre and We Were There, Two Spoons, Accidentally, Like A Martyr and most recently I Could Say More for Other Side Productions.
Currently, Roger has just completed a new version of his and Lee Goldsmith’s musical, Quality Street, based on the play by J. M. Barrie.
Read more about Lee Goldsmith here.