For several years now, James has been a regular attraction on the evening tours of the old Prison, appearing as various convicts, sometimes frightening and often amusing the visitors.
Here, he has just emerged from his cell in prison greens as convict John West >
For the last three years, James has appeared as characters in tours conducted in the Fremantle Cemetery by Board member Don Whittington. In 2016 he did Henry Vincent, jailer, and C.Y. O'Connor, planner/engineer - in powerful performances. In 2017, he reprised O'Connor, and added Tom Edwards, the waterside worker killed by police in 1919.
James Hagan appearing as C.Y. O'Connor, with Don Whittington (in the hat) behind him, Fremantle Cemetery 2016
And in 2018, when the year the theme was 'merchants princes', he portrayed James Lilly as a man of conviction who saw himself as falling short of ideals and so killing himself - but finding redemption in his last seconds of perception. The words Lead Kindly Light are on Lilly's tombstone. James Hagan took this as his theme, and suggested, in a fine piece of both writing and acting, that Lilly may have seen the white light at the end of the passage in the moments before he died. James also sang a few lines from the hymn in his remarkable bass-baritone voice.
James Hagan, actor, channelling James Lilly, shipowner, 2018
He interpreted Mary Higham, 'merchant princess', to begin with as a slightly comic character, but quickly moved to represent her as woman of faith, for whom, 'God is with me'.
James Hagan in song in the character of Mary Higham, 2018
Given that the performances are given outdoors, with minimal costuming and no other theatrical artificiality whatsoever, the effect is remarkable.
Bach by Candlelight
James Hagan played Johann Sebastian Bach in Bach by Candlelight in St George's Cathedral, 31 August 2016.
The evening was hosted by beloved Perth actor James Hagan, who donned a period costume and a German accent to portray the revered composer. In between pieces, he gave us little historical snippets about the life and times of Bach, ad libbing, delivering a joke or two, and interacting occasionally with the audience as he walked up and down the aisles. Cicely Binford.
WA actor James Hagan played the character of “Grumpy Bach” throughout the evening, entertaining the audience with his musings on the life and works of the composer. It helped some interesting facts about Bach stick, including the fact he had 20 children (10 of whom lived past childhood), many who became musicians and performers themselves. Sarah Green.
This is a 2018 webseries which may be picked up by Netflix. In it, James plays the first sex scene of his career (with his clothes on).
James Hagan played one of the two main characters in James Taylor's Hobo, in two seasons at the Blue Room in 2016. Cicely Binford wrote in Australian Stage that 'James Hagan has a face and voice that make an indelible impression ...' David Zampatti wrote in the West Australian that 'James Hagan is a wonderful, imposing actor who has given us some memorable performances over a long career but his presence here, the sheer volume of him, is just too much for this play in this small space.'
James played a major role as Winston Churchill in Mary Kenny's play, Allegiance, at the Irish Club, Perth, July 2015.
Richard Hyde, reviewing the play, writes
... James Hagan (Churchill) and Bryn Coldrick (Collins) ... inhabit larger than life figures and imbue them with the gamut of emotions as tempers run high and each battle for control of the encounter and the outcome. Hagan has, in many ways, the showier part as Churchill who is full of bluster and rhetorical flourishes as he initially seeks to put Collins in his place. The gruff voice and dogged demeanour is nicely portrayed by Hagan whose projection is exceptional as befits his reputation as a top vocal coach.
Gordon the Optom, in his review, writes about
James Hagan, who is WA’s leading teacher of voice, diction and drama ... Hagan was wonderful as 47-year-old Churchill trying his best to bully Collins. He captured the politician’s speech defect immaculately. Both showed a huge range of emotions with genuine tears flowing, once in anger, then in total despondency ... when the WHOLE audience stand in rapturous applause then you know that you have seen something extra special.
James Hagan won the BEST ACTOR Award from the Equity Guild of WA for his performance in Red. The Award was presented 23 January 2013 at the Perth Cultural Centre. Will O'Mahony (also seen above) won Best Supporting Actor - and the play won Best Production for Sally Burton's Onward Production. Report in the West Australian.
For his appearance as abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko in John Logan's play Red, James received excellent opening notices from local critics David Zampatti and Jan Hallam, with the former calling him ‘mighty'. Victoria Laurie‘s review for the ABC is also available - a different review by her is in The Australian. And here is the Out in Perth review. Redwas on at the Subiaco Arts Centre Studio 12-27 August 2011.
Here's David Zampatti, in his extraordinarily laudatory review:
Hagan is mighty as Rothko, his voice descending to a rumble, his eyes burning as he searches his canvasses for their next secret. The technical quality of his work, especially the accuracy of his New York/North-Eastern European/Jewish accent, is flawless. There is not a second when you aren't totally convinced he is the man he is playing, and capable of making the art he is making. A tour de force.
... managed quite brilliantly by veteran James Hagan as Rothko ... Hagan’s distinctive gravelly, growly voice lash[es] out at the world.
Victoria Laurie (ABC):
As Rothko, James Hagan is an irascible, argumentative character who touchingly concedes the argument when he sees that Ken might have a point. Hagan convinces with every gesture, every searching stare into the dark shadows that, as a painter obsessed by light, he fears.
And (The Australian):
James Hagan dons Rothko's role like a heavy existential shroud, wrapping himself in the artist's dark persona. Hagan has utter mastery of the part; he channels Rothko's incandescent rage in every trembling gesture and his timing gives perfect pace to the alternately volatile and chastened encounters with Ken.
Graeme Watson (Out in Perth):
Hagan’s performance as the Russian born artist is filled with nuance and subtlety, quickly moving from deep introspection to rage and then comedy within short intervals. Rothko is portrayed as many things: a tyrant, a philosopher, a teacher – it’s a multi faceted depiction.
In the part of former radio personality Fred, James played a homeless man in James Taylor's play Hobo at the Blue Room, 22-25 January 2016.
From James Hagan’s masterful, attention-seeking, revolutionary action man, Barabbas, who believes in violent nationalistic fervour, to the urbane and sophisticated Pontius Pilate who knows people “like certainty...to know that tomorrow will be just like today”, we are reminded of the hoary question: how would the world react if Jesus arrived in our midst today?
... James Hagan, as the wonderful clown, Feste, arrived on Newby’s set in a well-past-it tux and crimson cheeks...
Hagan, whose performance is the best thing here, does quite a bit of singing – often from the Great American Songbook – in his decidedly approximate comic baritone.
James was in Much Ado About Nothing for Shakespeare in the Park, 4 Jan—2 Feb 2013. Mark Naglazas mentions him in his review: 'big-voiced James Hagan fully inhabits the characters of Leonato's brother Antonio and Dogberry's delightfully daffy Dad's Army-type offsider Verges'.
James was previously seen as Les Kennkat, a director of pornographic films, in Boy Gets Girl at the State Theatre Perth: the opening night was 19 September 2012. His character is not part of the main storyline but features instead in a cameo role in a subplot in which he may have stolen the show. The first review is from Victoria Laurie for the ABC: 'Most entertaining are James Hagan's wonderfully lascivious performance as a mammary-fixated film director ...' David Zampatti's review refers to the 'marvelously funny and ultimately touching subplot with Theresa and an aging, ailing pornographer (James Hagan, at full throttle) as both a relief from the building panic and an antidote, albeit temporary, to it'.
James played two parts in Ingle Knight's The Fremantle Candidate (Deckchair Theatre's last production, at PICA, July-August 2012) - one as the politician Frank Anstey >
About his other part, Ron Banks writes in The West Australian:
Hagan's other turn as a 1930s radio announcer, whereby he introduces the Labor Party Hour (presumably it did exist) with a fruity voice that has an authentic tone, is almost a series of comic interludes.
From 9 December 2011 James played panto dame Widow Twankey in Aladdin, at the Metcalfe Theatre. There's an excellent review here: ' the Dame Widow Twanky was hilariously played by accomplished actor James Hagan. While the kids just loved his over the top camp behaviour, sparkly costumes and wig, it was particularly amusing to see the distinguished actor and voice over artist riding a scooter and showing off his “hourglass figure”.' > > >
James played Giles Corey in the Black Swan production of The Crucible in 2007. Reviewer Rita Clarke wrote in Timeout, in the Subiaco Post that 'James Hagan is funny, and superb as the honest, rustic farmer ...'
He is in Indefinite (Kane George Jason, 2015). The film has been shown at festivals and at a cast-and-crew screening at Luna on Essex 7 June 2018. General release to follow.
As Father Emmett he plays a priest again in John V. Soto's film The Reckoning. After its premiere at the British Independent Film Festival in May 2014, director Soto won the award for Best Direction. The film was released in Australia in late 2014.
From the Hoyden about Town review of Little Sparrows - in which James Hagan's character's name is James:
When Susan is with her husband, determinedly kind as he tries to cope with anticipating her upcoming death, we can see that James knows that he has fallen short for her somehow, he wishes for more from himself on some levels, but at the core he doesn’t fully understand what it is that is missing between them.
James Hagan CV with complete list of all stage and screen work
Long list of James Hagan performances at the AusStage website.
List of James Hagan film appearances in the IMDb.
excerpt from Foreshadow — film (vimeo)
Pokerface — short film (vimeo)
Harvey's Dream (vimeo file, password required)
clip from The Great Mint Swindle (vimeo)
James has also worked extensively for ABC Radio.