ROGER HANNA SET DESIGN FOR THE STAGE
BLACK TIE MAGAZINE: “...the many projections by Roger Hanna & Price Johnston are imaginative and quite well done, and are a pleasure to see."
BROADWAY WORLD: "It's to the great credit of the spirited company of actors, projection designers Roger Hanna and Price Johnson and French playwright Jules Romains himself, that the Mint Theater Company's new production of Donogoo always feels like something wildly funny is just about to happen….
"The animated projections by Hanna and Johnson steal the show with their cartoon imagery that enhances the comical storytelling and clever moments that mix three-dimensional reality with two-dimensional drawings. However, a projected image of a character's physical reaction to seasickness, while technically impressive, may have gilded the lily a bit.”
CURTAIN UP: "Unlike Dr. Knock which worked without extensive scenery and with a manageable eight member cast, Donogoo is a dauntingly big play with more than sixty characters and twenty-three scenes in different locations. Together with Roger Hanna and Price Johnston, Kaikkonen has met what would be a challenge even for a large organizations. They've created all those tableaux with digital technology and only a few actual props. This mostly projected scenery is not just a smart solution for handling multiple locations economically and efficiently, but is brilliantly and entertainingly done. The digitilazed scenery takes us all over the world and features moving trains, cafes, a San Francisco Chinese food automat and, ultmately, the Brazilian jungle where Donogoo is supposed to be.
"This is one of the best and most inventive uses of projections as scenery that I've ever seen. It's as if this play has been waiting for modern technology to do it justice. What's more, the staging ratchets up the comedy and comes close to stealing the show. The sound, lighting and costume designers add to the excellence of the production values, with Sam Fleming's costumes especially apt and amusing."
DC THEATRE SCENE: "I must say the projections of Roger Hanna and Price Johnston contributed mightily, and almost saved the day."
EDGE BOSTON: "With the help of set designers Roger Hanna and Price Johnston, Donogoo-Tonka becomes just as real as any, a thing of beauty for the time-crunched fast money denizens of the play. The city life of Paris and the severe wilderness of Donogoo-Tonka come alive with 23 astoundingly animated itemized projects that create the scenes; from the lofty Parisian depositories to Donogoo-Tonka’s Day-Glo Lisa Frank-inspired Amazon rainforest (grab your coloring books, folks). A hard task this must have been, considering the 1930 play still honors the mock film scenario written a decade before, with locations not recurring scene to scene."
Watch a three-minute version of Donogoo
Listen to Set & Projections Designer
Roger Hanna and Director Gus
Kaikkonen discuss Donogoo
on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show
EPOCH TIMES: "Director Gus Kaikkonen’s crisp, tableau concept is perfect for this material. He is materially aided by the remarkable back projections, which occasionally suggest a moving train, by set designer Roger Hanna and Price Johnston, the latter also doing lighting. Hanna’s swiftly moving platforms insure rapid scene changes, a necessary boon for this type of production. Sam Fleming’s period costumes are right on the mark.”
FRONT ROW CENTER: "The sets and projections here are stunningly inventive. Characters board the Paris Metro, and it slides out of the station. A nutty professor’s mathematical musing appear under his moving chalk at light speed. A character pulls a three-dimensional book from a one-dimensional book shelf. I could go on.
"The point is, Roger Hanna’s projected images present us with so many charming turns, we wait on the set to entertain us again. Hanna’s done seven Mint productions, and his blurb in the program notes his day job at Colorado State University. What is he smoking? He should be here all the time, making this magic."
HI DRAMA: "Roger Hanna and Price Johnson's projections were so witty and surprising that the audience was in a constant state of gasps and squeals of delight at the imaginative use of the projections especially with doors, subways and trains, and smoke."
HUFFINGTON POST: “...the Mint has pulled off perhaps its most imaginative production to date, projecting various venues against multi-faceted stage walls to capture and move between locales as seamlessly as the moving pictures.”
KRITZERLAND: "I loved the travel poster for Donogoo that showed a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end that would trump anything that Og could find. There’s that old joke about coming out of a show and whistling the scenery? Well, you’ll be whistling in admiration at the projections that Roger Hanna and Price Johnston have whipped up and how well they work with Hanna’s set. You’ll also see the best vomit scene since GOD OF CARNAGE and witness out-of-control rumors and equally out-of-control humor."
THE L MAGAZINE: You have to hand it to the Mint Theater: they do most everything with style and skill. This is a beautifully designed and inventively staged production of Romains’s play...If nothing else, it can certainly be said without qualification that this is the best production of Jules Romains’s Donogoo that New York is ever likely to see.
LIGHTING AND SOUND AMERICA: "What keeps Donogoo watchable is one of the more cunning production designs to be seen in New York in some time. Roger Hanna's set features blank forced-perspective walls which he and Price Johnston fill with cascades of fiendishly clever animated images. A Metro train appears, a door in the wall opens, the actors enter, the door closes, and the train speeds off. Dr. Rufisque's experiments send waves of crackling electricity dancing across the walls. An actor walks up to a video bookcase and withdraws a real volume. A simple, old-fashioned cinematic wipe takes us from Paris to the Amazon in seconds. Hanna's set also includes a pair of slipstages that further help to pace the action; for example, that bridge over the canal breaks apart as the actors step downstage and the projected backdrop shifts from a view of the roofs of Paris to an evocative streetscape. Reading Donogoo, it seems almost impossible to stage, but Hanna and Johnston make it look easy. "
THE NEW YORKER: "The smart new translation is by the director, Gus Kaikkonen, aided immeasurably by the set designer, Roger Hanna, whose colorful and ingenious wall projections sometimes become animated, transporting the audience from a bridge over a canal to a laboratory to a café to a train station to the jungles of Brazil."
THE NEW YORK TIMES: "Cheerfully garish projections by Roger Hanna and Price Johnston allow rapid changes of scene.”
SIMON SEEZ: "Before we get any more twisted up in the details of the plot, which I will likely omit in any case from further scrutiny, I want to praise the Mint for a physical production that is as arresting for its visuals than it is by the aggressively whimsical text or even the deft performances by a large cast, some in multiple roles. This is a play with twenty three scenes and if I read the program correctly that many different locations, all created by a delightfully dazzling array of colorful projections, as created by Roger Hanna and Price Johnston. So what if the physical production gives a lift to a play that really isn't worth the effort... the adventurous theatergoer would do well to pay a visit to the Mint."
SIMPLY SHOWBIZ: "The scenic designs for this theater’s shows are often pleasing. But because the Mint’s plays come from an era when realism was a dominant force, the designs frequently consist of one or two settings per show, often with a fairly literal representation of time and place. I’ve never had the slightest notion that I would ever be blown away by the scenic artistry I saw on the little stage of the Mint.
"Not until Donogoo, that is.
"The theater’s current production of this 1930 Jules Romains comedy—translated and directed by Gus Kaikkonen (and opening officially tonight)—is graced by animated projections fashioned by Roger Hanna and Price Johnston. (Hanna is also credited with sets and Johnston with lights, but, really, all of these elements are of a piece.) Through the artistry of these talented designers the audience is transported to bright-colored French streets, offices, cafés and a train station, as well as to the deck of an ocean liner and the dense tangle of a Brazilian jungle—not to mention brief stops in Saigon and San Francisco. A car and a train zip across the stage. Mathematical equations are scrawled rapidly on projected chalkboards and then erased, leaving a chalky blur behind. There’s even—spoiler alert!—animated projectile vomiting.
"And these effects are not just visual gimmicks tacked on to the play for no reason. They fit the sensibility of Romains’ lightly satirical comedy perfectly. The Mint’s Donogoo is like an elaborate political cartoon from a vintage Parisian magazine, come to life…
"Donogoo is entertaining, thoughtful, and quite funny—and much of its success is surely Kaikkonen’s to claim. Nevertheless, it is Hanna and Johnston’s design flourishes that take the staging to an even-higher strata of delight."
STAGE BUDDY: “...the dizzying shifts in setting are deftly and attractively attended to by sly projections and the occasional device…"
TALKING BROADWAY: "While the stage at the Mint’s home on West 43rd Street is fairly large by Off-Broadway standards, the theater doesn’t have the facilities (or the wing and fly space) for multiple scene changes with traditional hardware sets. The solution in presenting Donogoo is a series of projections, beautifully designed by Roger Hanna and Price Johnston, upon the back and side walls of the stage. Certain areas of these projections are animated and combined with set pieces and props in a brilliantly creative way, as when one of the characters removes a real volume from a virtual shelf full of virtual books. Several other moments of animation clearly tickled the audience at the performance I attended, none more so than what we see when someone becomes sick to his stomach on the deck of an ocean liner plying its way towards South America."
T AND B ON THE AISLE: "The applause the sets, by Roger Hanna, and special effects, by Hanna with Price Johnston, elicit are well-merited."
THEATRE’S LEITER SIDE: "Judging from extant photos, the production combined highly cartoonish sets with more realistic ones (including an impressive-looking train). It also employed a rather sizable company. Thus for the tiny Mint Theatre, devoted to unearthing forgotten theatrical treasures with limited financial resources, to attempt Donogoo would seem a foolhardy adventure. Nonetheless, the Mint’s designers, Roger Hanna and Price Johnston (who also did the lights), have managed to pull the job off by an extremely clever use of sliding floor sections for moving people and furniture on and off combined with an exceptional projection design that allows for vividly colored and highly detailed painterly backgrounds that come into view via sweeping movements across the two side walls, built in forced perspective so that they join in a corner up center. A ceiling assists greatly in tying the projections together. Doors that slide open and shut do so without breaking the illusion, since the projections on them move off or on with them. The projections are both still and moving, and even allow for funny effects, such as when the contents of a seasick boat passenger’s stomach seem to fly out of his mouth into the sea. The overall scenic impression looks far more unified than that of the 1930 show, and is the revival’s big takeaway."
THEATER PIZZAZZ: "Projections by Roger Hanna and Price Johnston...are inspired. A mixture of sepia-toned photography and original illustration, these imaginative and amusing backgrounds are enlivened by something unexpected in each scene. Metro (subway) doors open to reveal a real passage through which a character disappears, then the train/projection moves on revealing art of the platform. A waiter holds a real cup to the screened coffee machine, steam comes out, coffee is poured. Fireplace flames move and crackle, a clock pendulum moves… Promotional footage of Donogoo is a hoot."
THEATERMANIA: "Donogoo originated in 1920 as a mock film scenario, a full decade before theatrical technology was able to bring it to the stage. The cinematic flavor remains, with locations never repeating from scene to scene. Kaikkonen achieves this with a smattering of furniture and some of the most complex projections I've ever witnessed. Designers Roger Hanna and Price Johnston have stunningly animated 23 detailed scenes, ranging from brocade-lined Parisian parlors to a neon-colored corner of the Amazon rainforest that might only exist in the mind of Lisa Frank. The actors interact with the projections throughout, magically pulling three-dimensional books out of two-dimensional shelves and walking onto departing trains. Hanna and Johnston have even projected one character's projectile vomit, saving wardrobe and props from untold headaches. These projections are flawlessly executed, allowing the actors to luxuriate in the artifice.”
TIMES SQUARE CHRONICLES: The set (Roger Hanna) and the remarkable projections (Roger Hanna and Price Johnston) are the reasons to see this play. They are inventive and unique. As characters board the Paris Metro, the train pulls out of the station and down the wall at a rapid pace. A 3-D book turns into a 1-D bookshelf. As a character writes on a chalkboard, the writing appears at lightening speed. This is pure magic.
THIS WEEK IN NY: " ingeniously concocted... Hanna and Johnston’s projections are phenomenal, as the actors magically spin globes, pull books off shelves, and open and close doors by interacting with film.”
TIME OUT NEW YORK: "Roger Hanna and Price Johnston’s snappy background projections steal the show. They continuously capture a playful, extravagant splendor the rest of the production only periodically achieves."
JOHN SIMON, WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN: “...the lavish projections of Roger Hanna and Price Johnston have wrought modest marvels."