ashland.news
July 18, 2024

Curtain Call: Dan Donohue is back with a pocketful of roles

Ray Porter, left, and Dan Donohue will play 15 characters in Rogue Theater Company's "Stones in His Pockets" July 17 through Aug. 4 at Grizzly Peak Winery. Rogue Theatre Company photo
June 25, 2024

He teams with fellow OSF veteran Ray Porter in Rogue Theater Company’s production of ‘Stones in His Pockets’

By Jim Flint

His first experience performing on stage was in a grade school production, playing the small but pivotal role of Goose Carrier. He carried the goose.

Donohue as George in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” for Yale Rep, and as Scar in “The Lion King,” which he performed on tour and on Broadway.

Since then, his credits include extensive work in film, television and regional theater; 11 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; and a starring role on Broadway as Scar, the main antagonist in “The Lion King,” a role he also played on the musical’s national tour.

Dan Donohue returns to Ashland next month for Rogue Theater Company’s three-week run of “Stones in His Pockets,” opening July 17.

Multiple characters

Donohue and fellow OSF alum Ray Porter play extras on a Hollywood film set in rural Ireland. A village gets a shot of Hollywood glam and is sent spinning. Belfast playwright Marie Jones wrote the script.

Donohue and Porter also play 13 other characters, men and women, requiring them to switch gender and voice swiftly and with minimal costume change — a hat here, a jacket there. The townsfolk are funny, flawed and brimming with hope. And Donohue and Porter know how to find the humanity in each and every one of them.

Donohue admires what Artistic Director Jessica Sage has created with RTC and wanted to have a chance to be part of it.

Donohue as Anthony in John Patrick Shanley’s “Outside Mullingar” at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in 2015. Donohue worked 11 seasons with OSF.

“While visiting last year, I brainstormed with Jessica about some possibilities,” he said.

“’Stones’ is a play I’ve wanted to do for many years. I am proud and grateful for the opportunity to perform it at Rogue Theater Company.”

Donohue’s longtime friend John Plumpis will direct. Also an actor, Plumpis played Timon in “The Lion King” for more than five years, a role he originated in the first national tour of the iconic musical.

A challenge relished

Playing multiple characters can be a challenge, but its one Donohue relishes.

“You have to flesh out each of the characters and make them three-dimensional,” he said. “At the same time, each characterization needs to be distinct and different, to be quickly recognized by the audience. That balance is tricky. But when done well, that’s the fun of it.”

John Plumpis is directing “Stones in His Pockets” at Rogue Theater Company.

Donohue’s and Porter’s main characters are Jake and Charlie, who first meet as the play begins. Both are in similar places in their lives. Neither has left much of a mark during their younger days.

“Now, they struggle to do something, to be something,” Donohue said, “and, finally, to forge their own stories.”

He’s confident the play will open the hearts of audiences.

“It’s an overly theatrical experience, which is such great fun,” he said. “And the story is filled with heart and hilarity. It’s a mix, both rich and rare.”

‘They caved,’ eventually

Donohue’s first season with OSF was in 1994.

“I had been repeatedly knocking on their door — frequently auditioning and courting the festival,” he said. “Eventually they caved and let me in. It became my artistic home over the years.”

He enjoyed being surrounded at OSF by people he loved, looked up to, and admired. “I was always learning from so many people who were raising the bar.”

One of his favorite roles at OSF was in Tom Stoppard’s “Rough Crossing.” He played Dvornichek, a rookie cruise ship steward who sways and lists as if the ship were in a storm at sea.

“Later, when the ship is in a storm, it counterbalances his movement,” Donohue said. Audiences loved it.

The deets
“Stones in His Pockets” plays Wednesdays through Sundays, July 17 — Aug. 4, on Rogue Theater Company’s stage at Grizzly Peak Winery, 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to roguetheatercompany.com.

Another favorite role was Hamlet.

“He’s a character much like Dvornichek in ‘Rough Crossing,’ but without so much listing — and without Dvornichek’s swift problem-solving skills,” he laughed.

‘Lion King’ connection

Ashland fans might be interested to learn how he garnered the role in “The Lion King.”

Patrick Page, also an OSF alumnus and a longtime mentor and friend, was playing Scar in the national tour.

“Patrick set up an audition for me,” Donohue said. “I was hired to take over Scar on tour when Patrick moved into the Broadway company. Later, I took over Scar on Broadway when Patrick moved on to other things.”

Donohue performed Scar more than 1,700 times in the national tour and in New York.

“I made many dear friends in those companies,” he said.

Are there any dream roles on his bucket list?

Two, he said.

“An aging Benedick in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ or a young Lear — before I’m too weak to lift Cordelia!”

“Stones in His Pockets” plays Wednesdays through Sundays, July 17 — Aug. 4, on RTC’s stage at Grizzly Peak Winery, 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to roguetheatercompany.com.

Next week: Part 2, a profile on Donohue’s co-star, Ray Porter.

Reach writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.

Picture of Jim

Jim

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