Biography

 

Roger Hanna has been designing sets for theater, dance, and opera since 1990.


Recent work includes Tommy Tune’s new Studio 54 musical, FIFTY*FOUR*FOREVER, 

 the New York City premieres of Il Postino and Flight for Mannes Opera, The Adventures of Hershele Ostropolyer in New York City and Tel Aviv, Ballet of Light and Ghosts for Timelapse Dance, and Charley's Aunt for Peterborough Players.

Donogoo, Gus Kaikkonen’s 2014 translation of Jules Romains’ 1930 comedy, earned unprecedented raves for it’s set and projection design (the projections were co-designed by Price Johnston).  Roger Hanna was honored to be the first set or projections designer ever interviewed on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show, when he and Kaikkonen explained the process and challenges of presenting a play written as a travelogue spanning 23 sets and 66 characters in a 100-seat house (the solution involved adding a 24th set).   Reviews, the Lopate interview, and a three-minute video version of the play can be read, listened to, and watched following the link to the right.  Its 2015 Drama Desk nomination for Best Projections Design is Roger Hanna's third Drama Desk nomination, and its nomination for 2015 Henry Hewes Award for Notable Effects is his third Henry Hewes Design Award nomination.  If you're curious, he lost to A Curious Incident... and Hamilton.

Roger Hanna's opera designs have been seen at Sarasota Opera (“…the handsome, Cezanne-like pastoral scenery by Roger Hanna is delightful.”  —Longmont Observer), in multiple productions at New York University, Manhattan School of Music, and most notably the Mannes Opera.  His Mannes productions have received glowing praise from the New York Times ("Spare, imaginative sets, designed by Roger Hanna and often consisting of little more than a few cruciform pillars, reminded you how much can be accomplished with next to nothing"; "...handsome and effective sets"; “...a polished and entrancing production... baritone Dongkyu Oh matched the vividness of Roger Hanna's brightly colored, surreally shaped storybook sets, like Vermeer by way of Dr. Seuss."), Opera News ("Roger Hanna's chromium tunneled airport lounge managed to be both spacious and claustrophobic"; "Roger Hanna's set designs were both realistic and witty"; "Playful but never cheeky set designs by Roger Hanna featured a board-able, roll-on Brigantine...a model lakefront-view for the sisters' veranda and a suspended, spotlit gray ball for the moon”) and others ("so accurate that we recognized the locale!" —Voce de meche). Vanessa, to be produced in 2017, conducted by Joseph Colaneri and staged by Jay Lesenger, will be his 25th production with Mannes Opera.


Roger Hanna’s off-Broadway work at the Mint Theater Company has been recognized by back-to-back Henry Hewes Design Award nominations, for What The Public Wants and A Little Journey.  A Little Journey also received a 2012 Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Set Design, and earned praise in the press: “A joy” (Upon the Sacred Stage), “clever” (NY Times), “remarkably ingenious” (TheatreScene), “unrivaled” (WS Journal); “spectacular” (Show Business Weekly) “imaginative” (AP), “ingeniously devised” (Lighting & Sound America), “an inventive gem” (nytheatre.com), “some sort of miracle” (Talk Entertainment), and “brilliant.” (Best of Off-Broadway). 

Roger Hanna received the 2009 Lucille Lortel Award and his first Henry Hewes Design Award nomination for The Glass Cage at the Mint, which David Barbour, in Lighting and Sound America, described as an “unusual and provocative design concept. Roger Hanna's design places an arrangement of Victorian furniture pieces—including a chaise longue and a prie-dieu—against a vast, complex arrangement of copper pipes, among which can be found dozens of lamps. It's an apt visual metaphor for an era defined by old-fashioned values under siege by modern developments. The design's transparency allows us see characters making their entrances and exits, a prime virtue in a story about a house where secrets are known but almost never spoken.” 

Roger Hanna received a 2006 Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Set Design of a Play for Walking Down Broadway at the Mint Theater Company. Ron Lasko wrote at Broadway.com that “the real star of the show is an amazing set by Roger Hanna…walls pivot, doors unhinge, new walls emerge and all of the furniture is changed. It is quite impressive. In fact, the change-over from set to set is almost as entertaining as the show.”

Roger Hanna has worked with directors and choreographers including Laura Alley, Jack Allison, Jonathan Bank, Tracey Bersley, Trazana Beverly, Martha Collins, Nilo Cruz, Dorothy Danner, Thomas Gruenewald, Robin Guarino, Barry Harman, Lou Jacovs, Rick Joyce, Walt Jones, Gus Kaikkonen, Ralph Lee, Susan Marshall, Elisa Monte, Charles Morey, Michael Parva, Eleanor Reissa, Merián Soto, Tommy Tune, Maria Vail, and Steven Williford.

Since 1995, Roger Hanna has collaborated with opera director Robin Guarino five times, most recently for the Mannes School of Music’s Don Giovanni. Other work with Ms. Guarino include A Game of Chance (which illustrator Al Hirschfeld described as “magnificent”), Camilla, Riders to the Sea, and L’enfant et les Sortilegès. Opera News summed up their collaborative approach as follows: “Robin Guarino found consistently imaginative solutions to the opera's inherent staging difficulties, aided by…the well-tailored work of Roger Hanna.” 

Roger Hanna designed scenery and projections for the New York premiere of Dario Fo’s Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, as well as scenery and lighting for the North American premiere of Fo’s The Peasant’s Bible. Both productions were directed by Fo translator Ron Jenkins.

From 2000 through 2004, as resident designer for Playwrights Theater of New York, Roger Hanna designed all full productions of the chronological mounting of Eugene O’Neill’s 49 plays at the Provincetown Playhouse. His set for Before Breakfast, described in the New York Times as “Roger Hanna's claustrophobically shabby habitat of despair,” is featured in the new Literature textbook by Pearson/Prentice Hall. His work for The Personal Equation was praised by CurtainUp as “a remarkable agile, complex and evocative set.”

The New York Times, describing Crocodiles in the Potomac—one of Mr. Hanna’s collaborations with director Suzanne Bennett for Women’s Project--said that Hanna’s set “evokes Washington more effectively and with less cliche’ than any seen in the theater in many years.” Of his most recent collaboration with director Ralph Buckley, Keith Reddin’s Black Snow, Clive Barnes raved in the New York Post that “Buckley’s inventive staging [is] much helped by the ingenuity of…Roger Hanna’s cartoonish setting.” Mr. Hanna’s ten designs for Gilgamesh Theatre Group include the whimsical Icefishing Play, Jeffery Hatcher's Two, Nikita, and the Carnegie Hall Reading Room reading of Clifford J. Tasner’s Odysseus.

Roger Hanna holds an MFA in Design from New York University, and is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829. Teaching positions have included faculty designer for a NYU Program in Educational Theatre, 1991—2001, and Rutgers Newark, Spring 1993—Spring 1994, for which he taught a combined total of forty classes and designed nearly 100 productions. In academic year 2011—2012, Mr. Hanna spent a year as Visiting Professor for the University of Miami. He has also designed productions for Mannes School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, New School for Drama, NYU Dramatic Writing, Point Park University, SUNY Ulster, and Yale Dramatic Association.

Roger Hanna is currently Head of Design at Colorado State University's Theatre Department.

Click on the Image above to read Donogoo reviews, listen to Roger Hanna on the Lenonard Lopate Show, and to watch a three-minute video of the play.
 
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2010 - present

2010 - present