HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE (New York Times Critic's Pick) - LAURA COLLINS-HUGHES
"As Jason O’Connell proves in a hilarious and explosive performance as Harold, the cult of masculinity that Vonnegut lampooned is still with us, absurd and menacing and terribly, terribly vain... He is riveting to watch... Mr. O’Connell is best known Off Broadway for playing love interests, including Mr. Darcy... This is quite a departure, and quite a star turn."
...FURTHER PRAISE FOR JASON O'CONNELL AND WANDA JUNE:
“Harold Ryan (the electrifying Jason O'Connell) stalks the stage like a predator, sizing up his rivals...”
– Raven Snook, Time Out New York
“Jason O’Connell as Harold Ryan is not to be missed. This man is so mesmerizing that you cannot take your eyes off him...”
– Suzanna Bowling, Times Square Chronicles
“The center of the play is O'Connell, who gives one of the most uninhibited performances I've ever witnessed...”
– Zachary Stewart, TheatreMania
"In order for Wanda June to work, [Harold Ryan] has to be charming and sexually attractive.
Jason O'Connell manages all of Harold's dimensions in a tour de force performance that would merit a Tony if the show happened to be on Broadway.”
– Wendy Caster, Show Showdown
“The actors do not disappoint, especially Jason O’Connell in the leading role... He is enough to see the show all on his own.”
– Ron Fassler, Theater Pizzazz
“The clear stand-out is Jason O'Connell, who embodies Harold Ryan with every fiber of his being. O'Connell plays this primitive alpha male as the child of Jack Black and Robin Williams. Everything he does is enthralling."
– Shoshana Roberts, Theatre is Easy
“Most crucial to the production’s success is Jason O’Connell’s riveting performance as Harold...”
– Edward Karam, Off Off Online
“Jason O'Connell is in astoundingly good form here. [He's] like Burt Reynolds on steroids...”
- Elizabeth Wollman, Show Showdown
“The main character is played by Jason O’Connell in a gobsmackingly good performance. Nuanced and hilarious... He’s SO good!”
“The acting in the play is superb. Jason O’Connell is titanic as, well, the titanic Harold Ryan.”
– Bruce Chadwick, History News Network
“O’Connell is ferocious... A force of nature who moves across the stage like a caged animal waiting to pounce... Exceptional...”
– This Week in New York
“Let us now praise Jason O’Connell, whose red-blooded manifestation is a complete delight.
Rife with detail, powered by bile and animalistic instinct, his Harold also shows us moments of confusion and tenderness.
The thespian can sing, dance and act, doing all three with committed bravado.
He moves beautifully and sounds just right. Bravo.”
– Alix Cohen, Woman Around Town
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (New York Times Critic's Pick) - BEN BRANTLEY
"Bottom is portrayed most zealously and multifariously by Jason O’Connell... Mr. O’Connell plays Bottom playing Pyramus (the ill-starred hero of the play within the play) in the style of Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Mr. O’Connell plays Puck, too, by the way, and less as the usual “knavish lad” than as an embodiment of id run rampant. When Puck works his transformative magic on Bottom in this “Dream,” it’s a double act performed by a single actor, without any of the aren’t-I-clever cuteness that often accompanies such virtuosity. There’s a visceral charge to Mr. O’Connell’s performance(s) here, as if one character were wrestling the other into being out of his own guts. This interaction of alter egos is exhilarating, funny and a little scary. We all contain multitudes — an exciting and frightening proposition that we usually entertain only in our dreams."
FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL'S BEST OF 2013 & YEAR IN REVIEW - TERRY TEACHOUT
While some of the year's best performances were glittery star-turns, I saw lots of less obviously stellar but equally excellent acting in New York, both on Broadway (Elizabeth Marvel in "Picnic") and off (Michael Cerverisin "Fun Home" and "Nikolai and the Others," Jason O'Connell in "Don Juan in Hell,"
Sarah Paulson in "Talley's Folly," J. Smith-Cameronin "Juno and the Paycock").
DON JUAN IN HELL (Phoenix Theatre Ensemble)
"Mr. O'Connell... is altogether remarkable, giving us a vibrant Don Juan who is by turns amused and anguished by his plight... This production deserves to run much, much longer." – Wall Street Journal FULL REVIEW
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL (HVSF)
"Jason O'Connell, the most interesting member of the Hudson Valley ensemble, gives a performance of considerable complexity, making the most of the comedy but taking equal care to bring out the pathos of his final scenes. Mr. O'Connell should be much better known than he is."
–Wall Street Journal FULL REVIEW
THE DORK KNIGHT
“One of the most difficult feats for a one-man show is to hold the attention of your audience throughout. But O’Connell’s autobiographical play keeps you glued to his life’s tumultuous journey driven by his Batman fixation. An adept storyteller, O’Connell seamlessly weaves in his own story with his unmistakable impersonations of the many actors who have played Batman…With hilarious wit and comedic spin, O’Connell masters different personas with a rhythmic flow that builds to a captivating momentum. But it’s the portrayal of Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight” where O’Connell excels —an impersonation so astute, that it’s as harrowing as was Ledger’s own portrayal." – Roll Magazine
"O’Connell’s profound ability to personify the characters was enough to make the audience go completely still, to take a breath from laughing and instead hang on to every word the character was saying... if you closed your eyes and listened closely, you would think you were in the room with Nicholson and Bale... When O'Connell took his skillfulness a step further and embodied the late Heath Ledger's rendition of the psychotic Joker, you would have been able to hear a pin drop in the room." – The Little Rebellion
39 STEPS (HVSF)
“From there on in, Hannay meets scores of interesting or colorful people, almost all played by Messrs Mann and O’Connell. The quick changes have been funny in other productions of “The 39 Steps,” but the constant and rapid hat-switching is especially entertaining here." – The New York Times
“Festival regulars know that the gleam in O’Connell’s eye is a sure sign to expect the unexpected, and he mines each character for a unique physical or vocal tic, something to set him (or her) apart. That typically spells comic doom for those who must share the stage with him, as his withering ad-libbing and commitment to each character — gifts from the theater gods — present a near impossible test of resolve and stamina. You try and keep a straight face while he channels Peter Sellers’ Dr. Strangelove in a deliciously over-the-top performance. Not easy.” –Journal News
LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST (HVSF)
“But the Beatrice and Benedick (or Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant) roles fall to the royal attendants Rosaline and Berowne.They are played here by Katie Hartke and Jason O’Connell, whose dialogue is the production’s high point of flirtatious banter. And Mr. O’Connell rises to the crucial challenge of convincingly drawing Berowne’s evolution from madcap joker to melancholy philosopher, who comes to understand that man cannot live by words alone.”
—Ben Brantley, The New York Times FULL REVIEW
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (HVSF)
"Mr. O’Connell has proven with past performances that he is one of the most versatile actors working at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. This year, he had the opportunity to express the dynamic nature of his range with a riveting portrayal of Claudius in the HVSF Hamlet, but it was his comic tour de force in this delightful farce that really stood out to me as one of the freshest, funniest turns onstage this year. In a variety of roles, Mr. O’Connell was unafraid to go the extra distance for the play and it worked like gang-busters; his fully-committed performance resulted in some of the largest laughs I’ve had all year." – Theatre aficionado at large (Best Performances of 2011)
NEXT FALL (Florida Studio Theatre)
“Jason O’Connell is especially gratifying in his portrayal of the main character, Adam, an insecure, hypochondriac, Woody Allen-type, which could easily go off the rails without O’Connell’s astonishingly naturalistic approach.” –Sarasota Observer