reviews

A major young talent to look for in the future!

— Gerard Alessandrini, Forbidden Broadway Creator
Forbidden Broadway: Rude Awakening CD Liner Notes

Born Yesterday — Northern Stage

…stylish, hilarious and even touching…. James Donegan was earnest as earnest can be as the incorruptible journalist Paul. — Jim Lowe, Vermont Today

Though at first he seems weaker than Billie and Harry, his unyielding principles and his fundamental decency make him an effective tutor for Billie and, soon, a formidable rival for her affections. As played by Donegan, Verrall is neither easily bought nor bamboozled. …. [This is] as strong a cast as Northern Stage has ever assembled. — Norwood Long, Vermont Standard

The Drowsy Chaperone — St. Michael’s Playhouse

As horndog Aldolpho, Donegan goes further over the top than any other player, and he’s a howl every moment of the way. — Erik Esckilsen, Seven Days

[James Donegan is] perfect as “a man of 1000 accents – all of them insulting.” — Connie Meng, North Country Public Radio

“a delightful production of a silly, frothy musical comedy that kept its audience in stitches.” — Jim Lowe, Times Argus

St. Michael’s Playhouse opened Wednesday with one of its most satisfying productions in years… awe-inspiring and hilarious. — Brent Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press

The Drowsy Chaperone — Gateway Playhouse

Chaperone Lauren Cohn and her stereotypical Latin lover, a gamely farcical James Donegan, chew up enough scenery to choke a ham. — Steve Parks, Newsday.com

James Donegan’s mobile-faced, multilingual, cape-sweeping Latin lover Aldolpho is a comic tour de force (or maybe tour de farce). — Lee Davis, Southampton Press

Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab: Original Cast Album

This latest, hopefully not last, cast recording is a particularly strong one. [“Let Me Enter Naked”] is just one of several strong moments for cast member James Donegan as Daniel Radcliffe, breathy British accent and all. This is a particularly skilled cast, both in vocal chops and chameleon-like taking on Broadway stars’ vocal tics and vocal colors… This Forbidden is fabulous, feisty fun.
— Rob Lester, Talkin’ Broadway

A Year with Frog & Toad — Dorset Theatre Festival

The chorus … [is] led by James Donegan whose snail is a highlight of this show. When he sings ‘I’m Coming Out of My Shell’ with some of the funniest and oddest lyrics you are ever likely to hear, he is amazingly forthright and so much in character you can almost forget what you’re watching and actually see a performing slug.
— J. Peter Bergman, Berkshire Bright Focus
It is a total pleasure for adults as well as children … [Donegan as] the Snail is my favorite.
— Bob Rose, The Post-Star
It has been a number of years since the Dorset Theatre Festival has produced a musical, and it has been well worth the wait … Donegan proved to be a crowd favorite as the ‘snail with the mail.’
— Jessica Erin Palmer, Manchester Journal/Bennington Banner

Forbidden Broadway — Gateway Playhouse

First rate! … four sparkling performers.
— Anita Gates, The New York Times
[This production is] … blessed with a cast of four that are, every one of them, dynamic comic geniuses with glorious singing voices … [They] are uniformly sublime, milking every situation for every drop of its satirical possibilities, mugging, dancing, and indulging in body bruising physical comedy in huge quantities.
— Lee Davis, Southampton Press
It seems like there are more than four of them!
— Michael Sorrentino, The Long Island Advance

Roberta — Musicals Tonight!

In the role originated by Bob Hope, James Donegan handles bookwriter Harbach’s parade of wisecracks, both funny (“Long dresses don’t bother me. I have a good memory.”) and not so funny (“Love is like hash. You have to have confidence in it to enjoy it.”) with skillful timing and sings the classic “Lovely To Look At” with an attractively tender voice. He also leads an amusing second act number, “Don’t Ask Me Not To Sing,” where chorus members impersonate stars of the era like Al Jolson, Bing Crosby and Greta Garbo. Donegan caps it off with a big, belty Ethel Merman.
— Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld.com

Hello, Dolly! — Arkansas Rep

… as the show’s emotional core, James Donegan’s shopkeeping Cornelius embodies the hopeful, only-in-New-York lyric “we won’t come home until we fall in love.” It’s a nice notion, and, in this production, it just might happen.
— Kyle Brazzel, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
[Dolly] is amusing in a zany fashion, full of elaborately drawn personalities [such as] Cornelius and Barnaby, the slapstick comedy duo, executed with liveliness and great comedic timing by James Donegan and Jason Edward Cook.
—Dolores Alfieri, Arkansas Times
But James Donegan as Vandergelder’s oppressed chief clerk Cornelius Hackl is superb in both his voice and droll-slapstick character…
— Kitty Chism, The North Little Rock Times
Normally, I find Cornelius to be cloying and annoying. It was refreshing to see your portrayal of him as an earnest, eager young man who is having the time of his life. For the first time, I actually cared about Cornelius and Irene. Since their romance is the core of the show, it gave the production depth.
—S. Carter, patron (via e-mail)

Forbidden Broadway: Rude Awakening 
Original Off Broadway Cast

…James Donegan’s rendition of “Being Alive” — or as I’ve retitled it “Being Intense” — is not only a masterful comic turn but beautifully sung as well. He is a major young talent to look for in the future in real Broadway shows and classical music.
— Gerard Alessandrini, Forbidden Braodway: Rude Awakening CD Liner Notes
…the 90-minute revue features … four insanely talented and versatile actors. … James Donegan delivers a stinging, zinging telegram to Raúl Esparza as he expertly, if mercilessly, mocks the Company star’s overindulgence. 
— Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News
[Theatre insiders] will probably best appreciate James Donegan’s hilarious impersonation of Raúl Esparza’s intensity in Company (just the way he warily approaches his piano is priceless) … 
— Frank Scheck, New York Post
Best of the entirely new material is a brilliant take on last season’s Company revival … That title number with the full cast then segues into a viciously funny recap of Company star Raúl Esparza’s entire stage career, with the hilarious James Donegan banging away at the piano while cranking up his tortured vibrato to convulsive heights in “Being Intense.” … Donegan [does] a wickedly earnest Brian F. O’Byrne in The Coast of Utopia … 
— David Rooney, Variety
Performers Jared Bradshaw, Janet Dickinson, James Donegan and Valerie Fagan are immensely talented and uniquely hilarious. They’re all gifted mimics… but their voices can also raise the rafters.
— Julie Reed, Associated Press
The cast — Dickinson, Valerie Fagan, Jared Bradshaw and James Donegan — upholds the show’s impeccable standards for imitation, which is clearly not always a form of flattery. These are leather-lunged, quick-change chameleons. Are there really just four of them? Seems like 30. 
— Linda Winer, Newsday
Newer [sketches] include Janet Dickinson as a pitch-perfect Christine Ebersole in Grey Gardens and James Donegan as a smoldering Raúl Esparza crooning, “Somebody notice I’m hurt/Somebody notice I’m deep” in a riff on John Doyle’s Companyrevival. 
— Adam R. Perlman, Back Stage
James Donegan is especially on target as an overacting Raúl Esparza (“Being Intense”) and an over enunciating Brian F. O’Bryne, all decked out for The Coast of Utopia.
— Michael Dale, Broadway World.com
Rude requires its four-member cast (along with Steve Saari at piano) to be masters of virtuosity across styles and here, theatergoers find no disappointments. Vocal, physical and behavioral caricatures are all accomplished with finesse throughout… 
— American Theater Web
The big little musical is back – and it’s funnier than ever. … [The Coast of Utopia] gets a brief but very funny nod from James Donegan as Brian O’Byrne’s Alexander Herzen. … A take on another arty musical, Company, takes aim at John Doyle’s approach to Stephen Sondheim’s musicals, with a riotous Raúl Esparza by James Donegan, joined by chorus of tone deaf instrumentalists. 
— Elyse Summer, Curtain Up!
Another thing that Forbidden Broadway has in its favor is its electric cast. [Show creator Gerard] Alessandrini and his behind-the-scenes colleagues have an extraordinary track record for hiring wildly talented people… but rarely are all four performers in the same show as gifted as the quartet who take the stage in the current edition. … James Donegan’s singing and dancing as Brian F. O’Byrne is priceless. 
— Barbara & Scott Siegel, TheatreMania.com
The four actors work like Trojans (in the old-world sense of that word) and only get a five-minute intermission to relax. … All four are astonishing performers. [Janet] Dickinson delivers Lotte Lenya’s and Little Edie’s voices to perfection, while Donegan brings Harvey Fierstein’s non-voice to equal greatness.
— Peter Filichia, “Peter Filichia’s Diary,”TheatreMania.com
Jared Bradshaw, Janet Dickinson, James Donegan, and Valerie Fagan are of the usual crop of astonishing mimics, spectacular singers, and 24-carat comedians that long-time followers of the series have come to expect… But this time around, the performers vanish into their roles more as dramatic actors do, resulting in less sizzle and more sting.
— Matthew Murray, talkinbroadway.com
Donegan [is] brilliant. 
— William Wolf, New York Calling

Lend Me a Tenor — Northern Stage

Look high and low if you will, but you probably won’t find a flaw in the [Northern Stage] production of Ken Luwig’s Lend me a Tenor. … James Donegan is the bumbling Max, whose huge voice adds much to his character’s befuddled persona.
— Gary Dutton, Connecticut Valley Spectator
… the entire cast is sharp, but Donegan and [Tony] Lawson, whose characters are at the center of the action, are especially good. Donegan’s Max is a clammy nebbish (who at times bears a striking resemblance to Rick Moranis) … [with a] strong tenor voice. … Donegan and [Shanara] Gabrielle’s give and take in the show’s first scene and the comedy, both physical and verbal, in the second half of the show when the action gets faster and funnier, are polished to a high gloss.
— Alex Hudson, Valley News
James Donegan’s Max was particularly effective as he didn’t overplay the role, resulting in not only a very funny performance, but a sympathetic one.
— Jim Lowe, The Times Argus

Company — Actor’s Express

Donegan and [Laurie] Strickland [as April] give a touching account of a bitter-sweet song of leaving and regret, “Barcelona.” … After giving a performance that is wisely circumspect, Donegan turns in a complex and beautifully nuanced final number (“Being Alive”).
— Wendell Brock, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Robert’s biggest musical moments are his solos, which work like soliloquies. Donegan is commandingly impressive in these moments, able tosound forceful and intimate simultaneously. … he’s clearly a natural musical lead.
— Curt Holman, Creative Loafing

So Much Spring (Solo Recording)

Sexy newcomer Donegan makes an auspicious debut… He dominates “The Spark of Creation” from Schwartz’s Children of Eden as easily as he finds the pathos in “I Feel So Much Spring” from William Finn’s A New Brain.
— David Hurst, Next Magazine
On this disc’s 13 tracks, Donegan displays a charming, often delightful felicity, with a wide variety of musical theater tunes. The first track onSo Much Spring is “The Spark of Creation” fromChildren of Eden, which Donegan delivers with a clarion tone and almost exultant exuberance. … From this auspicious beginning, Donegan with ease from the jazz-y “Easy Money” from The Life to the pop-sounding ballad “A Breeze Off the River” fromThe Full Monty, in which Donegan uses his light tenor to bring out the full emotion in composer/lyricist David Yazbeck’s song. … for my money, its on tracks such as “She Cries” (from Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World) and “What More Can I Say?” (from William Finn’sFalsettoland) that the singer really shines.
— Broadway World
The next performer was on my radar screen, as I’d heard him before and was going this week to a show he’s in … He shouldn’t be under your radar either because it’s a very encouraging solo debut … I’m particularly impressed that the singer is equally effective whether his heroic persona is called upon or he is presenting his sensitive side. He doesn’t overplay either role; it’s called “trusting the material.” James’ head tones can be quite pretty without venturing anywhere near the danger level of precious or saccharine.
— Talkin Broadway