Jay Irwin

         Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Jay has been a theater geek for years.  He attends as many shows as he can around the country and loves taking in new exciting works.  


Instituting a new three letter rating system for my reviews for 2014.  They'll range from best to worst as WOW (A can’t miss), YAY (Too damn good), MEH+ (Good, with some great things going for it), MEH (Just OK), NAH (You can miss this one) and WTF (I think you can figure out my complex code there).


Jay is also an actor in the local Seattle scene.  Follow me on Twitter @SeattleBdwyGeek

MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Reviews: QUESTIONS OF THE HEART From Theatre22 Examines Being Gay and MormonBWW Reviews: Being Gay and Mormon - Theatre22's QUESTIONS OF THE HEART
Posted: Aug. 19, 2014


BWW Reviews:  Don't Wait, Just Go See Seattle Shakes' GODOTBWW Reviews: Don’t Wait, Just Go See Seattle Shakes’ GODOT
Posted: Sep. 8, 2014


BWW Reviews: 5th Avenue's A CHORUS LINE Is Almost a Triple ThreatBWW Reviews: 5th Avenue’s A CHORUS LINE Is Almost a Triple Threat
Posted: Sep. 12, 2014


BWW Reviews: Strawshop's BLACK COMEDY Brings Comedy Into the LightBWW Reviews: Strawshop's BLACK COMEDY Brings Comedy Into the Light
Posted: Aug. 23, 2014


BWW Reviews: SMT's MAN OF LA MANCHA Is Just Too NiceBWW Reviews: SMT’s MAN OF LA MANCHA Is Just Too Nice
Posted: Sep. 15, 2014


BWW Reviews: THE INVISIBLE HAND at ACT Grabs You & Doesn't Let GoBWW Reviews: THE INVISIBLE HAND at ACT Grabs You & Doesn’t Let Go
Posted: Sep. 15, 2014


BWW Reviews: Intiman's ANGELS IN AMERICA PT. 2 Lacks PunchBWW Reviews: Intiman’s ANGELS IN AMERICA PT. 2 Lacks Punch
Posted: Sep. 8, 2014


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Reviews: ISABELLA ROSSELLINI: GREEN PORNO Is A Naughty EducationBWW Reviews: ISABELLA ROSSELLINI: GREEN PORNO Is A Naughty Education
Posted: Nov. 5, 2013


BWW 2013 Seattle Critic's Choice Awards (Jay's Picks)BWW 2013 Seattle Critic's Choice Awards (Jay's Picks)
Posted: Dec. 30, 2013


BWW Reviews: How Village's LES MISERABLES Made Me Remember Why I Love This ShowBWW Reviews: How Village's LES MISERABLES Made Me Remember Why I Love This Show
Posted: Nov. 14, 2013


BWW Reviews: A Bit Disjointed but SECONDHAND LIONS at 5th Ave Full of Fantasy and HeartBWW Reviews: SECONDHAND LIONS at 5th Ave Full of Fantasy and Heart
Posted: Sep. 27, 2013


BWW Reviews: Balagan's CARRIE: THE MUSICAL Shines Despite Production and Material WoesBWW Reviews: Balagan's CARRIE: THE MUSICAL Shines Despite Production and Material Woes
Posted: Oct. 14, 2013


BWW Reviews: Balagan Takes JERRY SPRINGER: THE OPERA to Hell and Back AgainBWW Reviews: Balagan Takes JERRY SPRINGER: THE OPERA to Hell and Back Again
Posted: Jan. 11, 2014


BWW Reviews: THE INVISIBLE HAND at ACT Grabs You & Doesn't Let GoBWW Reviews: THE INVISIBLE HAND at ACT Grabs You & Doesn't Let Go
September 15, 2014

There are moments, Dear Reader, when you can encounter a work that can completely revitalize your love of good theater. Such was a moment for me the other night when I was lucky enough to catch ACT's production of "The Invisible Hand". I really wasn't sure what I was in for except that it was a play about politics and economics in Pakistan from Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of "Disgraced". What I got was an absolutely gripping evening of theater thanks to a killer production and a riveting play that I cannot urge you enough to go see.
BWW Reviews: SMT's MAN OF LA MANCHA Is Just Too NiceBWW Reviews: SMT's MAN OF LA MANCHA Is Just Too Nice
September 15, 2014

In order to put up the highly complex musical of "Man of La Mancha" you need more than the voices to fill the main roles. You need an ensemble who understands the text and the tone of the situation as well as a pacing to keep this intricate show moving along. Alas, that is what was missing from Seattle Musical Theatre's current production and is what hampers their show.
BWW Reviews: STC's BLOOD RELATIONS Is Overly ComplicatedBWW Reviews: STC's BLOOD RELATIONS Is Overly Complicated
September 14, 2014

Many have attempted to fictionalize the tale of Lizzie Borden. Hell, there's even a rock musical version of the story (that is awesome, by the way). Why? Because we all love a scandal. If this had happened today it'd be all over the news-tainment channels and internet for days (until the next scandal comes along). So authors and producers keep coming back to it especially since she got away with it, assuming she really did it at all. No one really knows for sure. And while the tale still lends some fascination, the current retelling in Sound Theatre Company's production of "Blood Relations" manages to get unnecessarily complicated while not really conveying much that's interesting or enlightening about the story.
BWW Reviews: 5th Avenue's A CHORUS LINE Is Almost a Triple ThreatBWW Reviews: 5th Avenue's A CHORUS LINE Is Almost a Triple Threat
September 12, 2014

There's something to be said for seeing a company of incredible dancers performing the classic A Chorus Line especially when they're doing much of the original Michael Bennett choreography as is currently being presented at the 5th Avenue Theatre. Even better when you've got an entire company of incredible singers as well. You've almost got the triple threat that the show needs to be great. Unfortunately it's that third element, the acting, where the 5th Avenue's production falls a little short and so the story of these Broadway gypsies suffers a bit.
BWW Reviews: Intiman's ANGELS IN AMERICA PT. 2 Lacks PunchBWW Reviews: Intiman's ANGELS IN AMERICA PT. 2 Lacks Punch
September 8, 2014

If you remember, Dear Readers, three weeks ago I said that Intiman's production of Part 1 of Tony Kushner's masterpiece, "Angels in America" still resonated through Kushner's script but the show felt under done and lacked focus. But I hoped it would settle into itself over time. I also hoped that the settling in to the characters would affect the power of the second part, "Angels in America Part 2: Perestroika". Alas, it did not. While it's still, again, Kushner's beautiful script, the show lacks the heart, punch and commitment to the piece to make it truly great. And while you may think that now this one needs to settle in, I think it stems from a larger issue.
BWW Reviews:  Don't Wait, Just Go See Seattle Shakes' GODOTBWW Reviews: Don't Wait, Just Go See Seattle Shakes' GODOT
September 8, 2014

Two tramps waiting by a tree in the middle of nowhere does not sound like the most engaging evening of theater. But when it comes from the absurdist mind of Samuel Beckett, you have one of the most thought provoking plays of the 20th century with his brilliant, "Waiting for Godot". But it's still not always engaging unless you have the right team putting it up. Fortunately Director George Mount has assembled a superb cast with an excellent take on the show that keeps it completely riveting.
BWW Reviews: Strawshop's BLACK COMEDY Brings Comedy Into the LightBWW Reviews: Strawshop's BLACK COMEDY Brings Comedy Into the Light
August 23, 2014

When physical comedy is done well it can be a beautiful thing. I still marvel at a seven-minute bit David Hyde Pierce did with an ironing board on the show Frasier (seriously, go look it up). But good physical comedy is not easy. Fortunately for us the cast of Strawberry Theatre Workshop's production of "Black Comedy" are more than up to the task as they presented one of the funniest displays of physical comedy I've seen in town since "Boeing Boeing" a few years back.
BWW Reviews: QUESTIONS OF THE HEART From Theatre22 Examines Being Gay and MormonBWW Reviews: QUESTIONS OF THE HEART From Theatre22 Examines Being Gay and Mormon
August 19, 2014

When Proposition 8 was being heavily campaigned for by the Mormon Church, Ben Abbott, a straight devout Mormon with a lot of gay friends due to his involvement with theater came across his own ethical quandary of how to reconcile the two worlds. But then he began to think about the Mormons out there who are also gay and how the beliefs of the church contradict their very selves. So he set out to find his own answers and what has evolved is Questions of the Heart: Gay Mormons and the Search for Identity, a one man show where Abbott examines these two seemingly polar opposites in a sensitive and funny way.
BWW Reviews: Wit, Passion & Intrigue in STAGEright's I GELOSIBWW Reviews: Wit, Passion & Intrigue in STAGEright's I GELOSI
August 18, 2014

A strong ensemble is crucial in most any play, especially when dealing with commedia dell'arte as each performer takes on typical archetypes which when combined create a solid show. Assuming, that is, there are no weak links. Luckily with STAGEright's current commedia production of "I Gelosi" the ensemble here is quite strong. Furthermore David Bridel's play goes beyond a simple commedia and delves into a potential history of one of Europe's most famous commedia troupes and creates an intriguing and heartfelt piece about the power of theater.
BWW Reviews: STC's SCHOOL FOR LIES Forces Comedy with One JokeBWW Reviews: STC's SCHOOL FOR LIES Forces Comedy with One Joke
August 18, 2014

If I wanted to watch people sniping at each other with no discernible plot or story then I'll watch reality TV. Unfortunately that's what the latest outing from Sound Theatre Company, 'School For Lies', felt like. David Ives' adaptation of Moliere's 'The Misanthrope' felt like such a contrived and one-note exercise in insults that I may have well have been watching the Real Housewives in verse. True the cast commits to the style but the style they've adopted is so forced and flat that I felt beaten over the head with the humor to the point that I didn't care about any of the characters.
BWW Reviews: ANGELS IN AMERICA, PT. 1 from Intiman Still ResonatesBWW Reviews: ANGELS IN AMERICA, PT. 1 from Intiman Still Resonates
August 15, 2014

20 Years ago a bright eyed theater nerd (as opposed to the bitter, jaded wretch I am today) was over the moon that the Intiman Theatre was able to get the rights to do one of the most exciting and talked about plays of the day, "Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches" so close on the heels of it's wowing Broadway and winning the Tony and Pulitzer. That fresh faced 25 year old was blown away by the artistry, language and sheer incredible storytelling prowess of author Tony Kushner and that amazing production solidified my love for this work. But can anything compare to your first time? Well the bloom may be a little off the rose and my cynical sensibilities of today may have missed some of the focus and wow factor of that original production in this current one being presented by Intiman Theatre, but the play still shows itself to be a masterwork and still deserves attention.
Photo Flash: Inside Look at 14th Annual Village Originals Festival of New MusicalsPhoto Flash: Inside Look at 14th Annual Village Originals Festival of New Musicals
August 12, 2014

It's a musical theater nerd's paradise and as a nerd one of my favorite times of the year. Village Theatre has once again brought together an incredible weekend of new works for workshop readings and one full production. Five shows put up for one performance as readings with music stands and scripts in hand and then one larger production put up for two weekends. And while the weekend may be over (and only for members anyway) there's still time to see the larger production and I've got some wonderful photos for you all. But let's start with the production you can still see and then we'll move onto the workshops.
BWW Reviews: Balagan and SMT's URINETOWN Sets an Almost Perfect ToneBWW Reviews: Balagan and SMT's URINETOWN Sets an Almost Perfect Tone
August 10, 2014

If you're going to go after a quirky, off kilter show such as "Urinetown", you need to go for the over-stylized melodrama aspect of it or don't even bother. Well Balagan Theatre has never been one to shy away from that "go big or go home" mentality and their current co-production with Seattle Musical Theatre is no exception. But as over the top as it is, it just doesn't quite reach the heights of satire in some places to really push the show into the realm of sardonic gold.
BWW Reviews: CAUGHT ONE HANDED at Annex Explores Humor and Pain of Religious AbuseBWW Reviews: CAUGHT ONE HANDED at Annex Explores Humor and Pain of Religious Abuse
August 7, 2014

Religion, sex, scandal, underwear and Britney Spears. No, it's not the latest Republican Senator's misdeeds but the autobiographical one-man show, "Caught One Handed" from writer and performer Noah Duffy. And while structurally it may have a few issues, thematically it's a powerful piece filled with humor and heart and a wonderful way to open a dialog on a difficult subject, that of abuse in the guise of religion.
BWW Reviews: ACT's Three Quirky ONE ACTS Feels Like One Too Many in TotalBWW Reviews: ACT's Three Quirky ONE ACTS Feels Like One Too Many in Total
July 27, 2014

In my opinion One Act plays are an underutilized form in the theatrical world. Too short to take up an entire evening's entertainment and so they get overlooked. Thankfully ACT has chosen not to shy away from the form with their current offering, "An Evening of One Acts" and has even chosen works by some iconic American authors. And while the evening was loaded with quirky fun, two of the one acts felt as if they could have ended a few times over and ran a bit long.
BWW Reviews: Schmeater's ATTACK OF THE KILLER MURDER OF ... DEATH SlaysBWW Reviews: Schmeater's ATTACK OF THE KILLER MURDER OF ... DEATH Slays
July 20, 2014

Scream queens, atomic monsters and aliens abound. And that's even before the murder in Theatre Schmeater's first full production in their new space, "Attack of the Killer Murder of Death". B grade movies haven't been this much fun since Mystery Science Theater 3000 as director and author Wayne Rawley has concocted a behind the scenes look of a 50's B movie set where the aging diva of the film is suddenly MURDERED!!! (DUN DUN DUUUUN!)
BWW Reviews: HANDS SOLO: PIANOMAN at ACT Elicits Jazzy CharmBWW Reviews: HANDS SOLO: PIANOMAN at ACT Elicits Jazzy Charm
July 11, 2014

I always get a little worried about the one man, autobiographical shows. All too often they can become self-indulgent therapy sessions as the performer delves into a life that we may or may not care about. Luckily this is not the case with 'Hands Solo: Pianoman' currently playing at ACT as Victor Janusz offers up a more self-reflective rather than self-indulgent journey mixed with some wonderfully sweet and jazzy tunes from he and his piano.
BWW Reviews: 5th Ave's WE WILL ROCK YOU Rocks - But is that Enough?BWW Reviews: 5th Ave's WE WILL ROCK YOU Rocks - But is that Enough?
July 9, 2014

Sometimes jukebox musicals need to stay in the jukebox. There are some exceptions where it works. When it's a good review like Smokey Joe's Caf or when there's a fun book like Mamma Mia. But when you take the songs of a classic rock band (such as Queen) and jam them into a completely contrived and nonsensical, thread thin plot the result (as with We Will Rock You currently at the 5th Avenue Theatre) is a barely entertaining mish mash of songs that left me less entertained and more embarrassed for those involved. Now I love me some Queen. I'm a little too young to have been aware of them in their hay day but like many others discovered them after their run as their enduring songs continue to live on. Which is why I feel they deserve better than the show they got. A show where we're in a not so distant future and people live their lives online (not so different from now) and because of this, rock and roll has been outlawed. (And there's the main plot hole because what's on the Internet but lots and lots of music.) So when a hunky idealistic dreamer, Galileo (Brian Justin Crum) who keeps hearing the lyrics from long dead rockers meets another outcast Scaramouche (Ruby Lewis), the two set out to escape the clutches of the all powerful Killer Queen (Jacqueline B. Arnold) and find other rebels who want to bring back rock. And how will they do this? Um, play music. Yeah, that's ultimately what drives the bad guys away, music. But then we've had music through out the whole show including from the bad guys. See, plot hole. And if this ridiculous story filled with so much bad, one repeated joke (how many times can we mention that the male leader of the rebels goes by the name Britney Spears?), sitcom humor and clunky exposition laden dialog from book writer Ben Elton weren't bad enough, but then they take these wonderful Queen songs and force them into the narrative often times changing the lyrics to try and make them fit. For example, they take the title song from the movie Flash Gordon and bastardize it so it's now all about giving the captured rebels electro shock therapy. Or how about Killer Queen singing Fat Bottomed Girls because, well I'm still not certain why she was singing it other than to check that iconic tune off the list. Did no one listen to the lyrics of the songs while trying to write the show? They're all quite narrative to begin with. And Elton couldn't come up with a story that fit in with those narratives? I mean he's even got characters names Galileo and Scaramouche but Bohemian Rhapsody (the thing all the bohemian rockers are striving for in the story by the way) isn't even performed until the end of the show as an after thought encore. The cast does what they can. In fact they amp their energy and intent up to about a 17 in order to try and give this story some punch. Crum and Lewis certainly have incredible voices worthy of Freddie Mercury and they completely shred any numbers given to them. Arnold too has a gorgeous voice but doesn't seem as invested in playing the villain in this over the top melodrama. But I have to mention Ryan Knowles who not only lent some incredible pipes to his numbers but some delicious comedic timing and heart to his character making him completely ROCK. But even the infectious energy of this amazing cast can't polish away the stench of this turd try as they may. The show is a somewhat fun ride but ultimately weighed down with such a horrible book and bastardized songs that it just feels insulting. Queen deserves better and smarter as do audiences, which is why I give We Will Rock You a NAH with my three letter rating system. Others may have enjoyed it but I just found it not worth the effort. We Will Rock You performs at the 5th Avenue Theatre through July 13th. For tickets or information contact the 5th Avenue box office at 206-625-1900 or visit them online at www.5thavenue.org.
BWW Reviews: Magic and Laughs in Teatro ZinZanni's WHEN SPARKS FLYBWW Reviews: Magic and Laughs in Teatro ZinZanni's WHEN SPARKS FLY
June 20, 2014

Teatro ZinZanni shows are always fun and full of magic. But when they add in some real magic and a killer Frankenstein-esque story as they've done with their latest creation, "When Sparks Fly", then that fun gets amped up to a point where anything can happen and does.
BWW Reviews: Reimagined PORGY AND BESS at 5th Avenue Feels Unfocused and RushedBWW Reviews: Reimagined PORGY AND BESS at 5th Avenue Feels Unfocused and Rushed
June 18, 2014

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. A motto to live by. That is, apparently, unless you're Diane Paulus who knows better than the original creators of Porgy and Bess, currently playing at the 5th Avenue Theatre, on how it should be told. Sure, it's mostly the same basic story but with the pared down script and cast and the re-orchestrated music it feels like Porgy and Bess Lite rather than The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess as they call it. And don't even get me started on that title. Enough has been said on that already.


...
1
Page: