Jay Irwin

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

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MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Reviews: Heavy Handed THREESOME at ACT Might Have Something to SayBWW Reviews: Heavy Handed THREESOME at ACT
Posted: Jun. 15, 2015


BWW Reviews: Magic Alive with THE ILLUSIONISTS at The 5th AvenueBWW Reviews: Magic Alive with THE ILLUSIONISTS at The 5th Avenue
Posted: Jun. 18, 2015


BWW Reviews: Gripping SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE from Book-It RepBWW Reviews: Gripping SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE from Book-It Rep
Posted: Jun. 22, 2015


LAST 365 DAYS

Summer Stages: BWW's Top Summer Picks for SeattleSummer Stages: BWW's Top Summer Picks for Seattle
Posted: May. 30, 2015


BWW Reviews: MARY POPPINS Not Quite So Magical at VillageBWW Reviews: MARY POPPINS Not Quite So Magical at Village
Posted: Nov. 14, 2014


BWW Reviews: Seattle Rep's LIZARD BOY Has Come to Save Us!BWW Reviews: Seattle Rep’s LIZARD BOY Has Come to Save Us!
Posted: Apr. 2, 2015


BWW 2014 Seattle Critic's Choice Awards (Jay's Picks)BWW 2014 Seattle Critic’s Choice Awards (Jay’s Picks)
Posted: Jan. 8, 2015


BWW Interviews: Interview with Former Balagan Executive Director Jake Groshong on the Closing of BalaganBWW Interviews: Interview with Former Balagan Executive Director Jake Groshong
Posted: Sep. 29, 2014


BWW Reviews: 5th Avenue's A CHRISTMAS STORY Comes Home to Find Its HeartBWW Reviews: 5th Avenue’s A CHRISTMAS STORY Comes Home to Find Its Heart
Posted: Dec. 5, 2014


BWW Reviews: Gripping SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE from Book-It RepBWW Reviews: Gripping SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE from Book-It Rep
June 22, 2015

How do you come out with an anti-war novel without it becoming preachy or scolding? You let Kurt Vonnegut handle it. His tale of the life of a soldier through his time in war and beyond is so shrouded in other elements that the lessons learned just slide on into your brain along with the rest of the story. And Book-It's presentation of this gripping work is just as seemingly effortless in its message and manages to engage and entertain rather than lecture and scold.
BWW Reviews: Magic Alive with THE ILLUSIONISTS at The 5th AvenueBWW Reviews: Magic Alive with THE ILLUSIONISTS at The 5th Avenue
June 18, 2015

Most of us in some way still want to believe that magic is real. I know I do. I mean how many of us tried some of those Harry Potter spells just to see what would happen? Just me? Well anyway, some true magicians are visiting Seattle at the moment with the big flashy show "The Illusionists - Witness the Impossible" over at the 5th Avenue Theatre. But this is not the magic shows of old as they've infused it with a cool, rockin' vibe and enough variation that it's bound to thrill anyone.
BWW Reviews: Heavy Handed THREESOME at ACT Might Have Something to SayBWW Reviews: Heavy Handed THREESOME at ACT Might Have Something to Say
June 15, 2015

If you want to ensure that people come to see your play then make sure you have well advertised nudity and sex in it. This is not a condemnation of "Threesome", the current play over at ACT, but a simple fact of the business of theater. But once you've lured those butts into the seats with the titillating title and promise of skin make sure you've got a story to keep the audience engaged once the actors put their clothes on. And while Yussef El Guindi's play does manage some interesting, hot button moments and topics the show feels somewhat forced at times and obscured by the gimmick that got the audience there.
BWW Reviews: Self Centered Hollywood in Theater Schmeater's FOUR DOGS AND A BONEBWW Reviews: Self Centered Hollywood in Theater Schmeater's FOUR DOGS AND A BONE
May 31, 2015

There may not be a ton of plot going on with Theater Schmeater's current production of "Four Dogs and a Bone". I mean there's no real message or over-arching moral other than "people in Hollywood are awful". But what it does have going for it is some very funny dialog and an ensemble that, while playing self-centered and back stabbing, are completely together in this piece which makes for a highly engaging and fun night.
Summer Stages: BWW's Top Summer Picks for SeattleSummer Stages: BWW's Top Summer Picks for Seattle
May 30, 2015

With the sun out more and more (amidst all the rain, of course) the theatrical choices in the area tend to dwindle a bit. But not to worry, there's still plenty to take in. From Shakespeare to Schwartz, greasers to gay baseball players, classics to camp and Karen Carpenter there's something for everyone. After you spend your day in the sun check out what's happening indoors (or in some cases combine the sun and the shows).
BWW Reviews:  Village's CABARET Slow and Safe but ThoughtfulBWW Reviews: Village's CABARET Slow and Safe but Thoughtful
May 24, 2015

I have to say that when it comes to Kander and Ebb's "Cabaret" I prefer my Kit Kat Club dirty, my Sally Bowles damaged and my Berlin dangerous. And while the current production at Village Theatre has all of those elements, they're all very safe versions of those elements. And while director Brian Yorkey attempted a very thoughtful telling of the story, often times the pacing was so deliberately slow as to lose any urgency of the moment.
BWW Reviews: THE CHILDREN'S HOUR Still Packs a Punch at ArouetBWW Reviews: THE CHILDREN'S HOUR Still Packs a Punch at Arouet
May 18, 2015

You might not think that a play from the 1930's would be so resonant today. But in our world where it's so easy to slander someone and spread malicious rumors at the click of a mouse, a play like "The Children's Hour", currently playing from Arouet, feels like an ominous precursor of things to come. And while the attitudes about the situations may have changed, the hurtful nature of gossip remains the same and Arouet's production deftly examines what that kind of hurt can do.
BWW Reviews: 5th Ave's JASPER IN DEADLAND Provides No Reason to LiveBWW Reviews: 5th Ave's JASPER IN DEADLAND Provides No Reason to Live
May 15, 2015

If you're going to tell a story about a journey to hell and back then you need to have a reason. Some kind of moral or message or even just an engaging character that the audience can grab ahold of to root for success. Unfortunately the new musical Jasper in Deadland, currently at the 5th Avenue Theatre, offers none of those things. On top of that it fails to offer any kind of memorable or plot-moving songs leaving me to wonder who this show was written for since it obviously wasn't the audience.
BWW Reviews: Seattle Shakes' OTHELLO Thrives on Multiple LevelsBWW Reviews: Seattle Shakes' OTHELLO Thrives on Multiple Levels
May 4, 2015

When going to see a show you hope for at least one aspect of the show be something good that you can hold onto. The acting, directing, sets, lights, something to make the night worthwhile. Lucky for all of us the current production of Shakespeare's tragic tale of betrayal and lies "Othello", currently playing from Seattle Shakespeare Company, is firing on so many levels that you're just not sure where to focus your attentions. But then, this should be no big surprise as it's from director John Langs whose name attached to a piece is usually the harbinger of "this one's gonna be good!"
BWW Reviews: Adorably Bittersweet OUTSIDE MULLINGAR at Seattle RepBWW Reviews: Adorably Bittersweet OUTSIDE MULLINGAR at Seattle Rep
April 30, 2015

John Patrick Shanley may be best known for his incredibly thought provoking play 'Doubt' but there's an almost romantic comedy side to his writing as well. I say 'almost' as I would never want to put his quirky, flawed characters looking for love (like the ones in his Oscar winning screenplay 'Moonstruck') in the same boat as standard romantic comedy. And that off kilter romance has found its way onto the Seattle Rep stage with his latest piece 'Outside Mullingar', showing that his adorably bittersweet style is alive and well.
BWW Reviews: Visceral and Hard Hitting Journey in Book-It's LITTLE BEEBWW Reviews: Visceral and Hard Hitting Journey in Book-It's LITTLE BEE
April 27, 2015

Sometimes not even Batman can save you from the atrocities of the world. Such is the case in Book-It Repertory Theatre's current production of Chris Cleave's "Little Bee". With a brutal and visceral tone at times the show manages to show off how the innocent lives of those trod upon in foreign countries can affect the lives of those in Western Civilization.
BWW Reviews: ArtsWest's ANGRY HOUSEWIVES a Bit Shaky but Still FunBWW Reviews: ArtsWest's ANGRY HOUSEWIVES a Bit Shaky but Still Fun
April 26, 2015

It's been quite some time since everyone's favorite Mom-laden punk band has graced a Seattle stage, but those "Angry Housewives" are back at ArtsWest. And while appearing to need a little more rehearsal and settling in time and still with a script that feels a bit hackneyed at times, the show with its ridiculous and infectious personalities still makes for a very fun night. Set the way back machine to the mid 80's as we find four suburban women looking to break free from their hum drum lives. Bev (Heather Hawkins) is newly widowed and broke. Carol (Ann Cornelius) is divorced, almost just as broke and desperate for love. Jetta (Chelsea LeValley) is a new Mom with an uptight and controlling husband (Mark Tyler Miller). And Wendi (Janet McWilliams) is a bit of a dreamer who's just looking for her next big thing. So when Bev's money problems become too much, the four band together to do the only thing they can do to make some money, enter a contest for the best punk rock band at a local club, of course. The show with book by A.M. Collins and music and lyrics by Chad Henry has a few script problems. The dialog can get a bit cliche and the story is about as predictable as a sit-com. And the production itself looked to need a bit more rehearsal time as its musical numbers were killer but its scene work and transitions were rocky at best. But I'm sure that will settle in time. But beyond all its problems the show is still fun and it's clear to see why it continued to run for so long back in the 80's and 90's. The ensemble is terrific and obviously having a blast up there. The four male counterparts to the ladies are superb. Miller is delightfully out of touch and chauvinistic. So much so that I felt the audience turning on him at one point but he managed to get them back during his song of redemption. Jeff Orton as Wendi's sailboat obsessed boyfriend and Brian Lange as the club owner Lewd Fingers each nailed their characters and their duet reminiscing on their past love was a real crowd pleaser. And Trent Moury as Bev's teenage son and his lamenting doo wop number about his too cool Mom practically stopped the show. But it's the ladies who completely kill in the show with their hilarious Mom-centric punk style. Especially LeValley's amazing lead vocals and dimwitted character and Cornelius' sultry ode to her lacking love life. Sure, the show wasn't rock solid the night I saw it but I have faith it'll get better with time and it still managed to be a sublimely silly rockin' good time. And so with my three letter rating system I'm giving "Angry housewives" a YAY on credit (which I'm sure they will live up to with all that potential). So go "eat your f***ing Cornflakes" and get out to catch the Angry Housewives before we lose them for another decade. "Angry Housewives" performs at ArtsWest through May 24th. For tickets or information contact the ArtsWest box office at 206-938-0339 or visit them online at www.artswest.org.
BWW Reviews: ACT's CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF Not All That HotBWW Reviews: ACT's CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF Not All That Hot
April 24, 2015

Tennessee Williams' searing southern drama, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" currently playing at ACT, opens with Brick (Brandon O'Neill) and his wife Maggie (Laura Griffith) in a heated conversation about the disintegrating state of their marriage and is filled with sexual tension. Or at least it should be. Unfortunately the relationship of Griffith and O'Neill's Maggie and Brick feels so stale and desperately one-note that there's nowhere for the characters to go. In fact it wasn't until Act Two that the play held much interest for me and really got into the richness of some of these characters.
BWW Reviews: SCT's ROBIN HOOD Is Back to Thrill UsBWW Reviews: SCT's ROBIN HOOD Is Back to Thrill Us
April 19, 2015

Back in 2011 some friends told me about this amazing production of "Robin Hood" going on over at Seattle Children's Theatre and like a dolt I missed it. (Bad theater reviewer!) Well luckily for me and for all of us that amazing production, complete with the same cast, director and set, is back and fairly well blew me away as to how incredible it is for both young and old.
BWW Reviews: STAGEright's Minimalist INTO THE WOODS Alive with CharacterBWW Reviews: STAGEright's Minimalist INTO THE WOODS Alive with Character
April 13, 2015

All too often in musical theater the performers have pretty voices but do the standard "park and bark" and just belt out those tunes with no character or story behind it. Such is not the case with the 12 person ensemble of STAGEright's current production of "Into the Woods" who not only sang the Sondheim score beautifully but also managed a ton of both comedic and dramatic timing to actually convey their characters (many of whom had multiple characters) making this one of the best productions I've seen.
BWW Reviews: Sadly A FUNNY THING HAPPENED  On the Way to Being Funny at SMT
April 13, 2015

Sondheim's "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" has been a go to for theaters for years. It's big and loud and can be a crowd pleaser. But should it be? Yes, it can be a very funny show if it's done right. But, as is the case with Seattle Musical Theatre's current production, when it's not done right it can be a plodding mess.
BWW Reviews: SPT's SLOWGIRL Examines Consequences; Lacks GrowthBWW Reviews: SPT's SLOWGIRL Examines Consequences; Lacks Growth
April 4, 2015

Character studies of two disparate people thrown together are all well and good. The conflict between the two can amount for high drama and/or comedy gold. And the characters in Seattle Public Theatre's current production of "Slowgirl" are quite different from each other. But for that conflict to amount to something, one or both of the characters needs to grow or discover something about themselves otherwise you're left with a great big "And ?" And unfortunately in "Slowgirl" I didn't really see much of a change by the end leaving me somewhat interested in them but less than satisfied.
BWW Reviews: Seattle Rep's LIZARD BOY Has Come to Save Us!BWW Reviews: Seattle Rep's LIZARD BOY Has Come to Save Us!
April 2, 2015

It's always exciting when the new bit of awesomeness to hit the theater scene comes to Seattle first. Such is the case with the brand new musical "Lizard Boy" written, composed and starring the uber-talented Justin Huertas currently playing at the Seattle Rep. This 90 minute journey of love, acceptance and scales embodies so much promise, potential and genuine love of storytelling that I can easily see this going far beyond Seattle. So you'll want to catch it now for some theater nerd bragging rights.
BWW Reviews: Contini's Ladies Make Showtunes' NINE SublimeBWW Reviews: Contini's Ladies Make Showtunes' NINE Sublime
March 30, 2015

I've never quite understood why Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit's "Nine" is so under produced regionally. It's fun, flirty and sexy with some of the most stunningly beautiful songs that unfortunately too few are familiar with. It could be that in order to produce it correctly you need one killer ensemble of women (and Guido of course) who can handle the piece. Well, as is their way, Showtunes Theatre Company has taken this underdone gem and dusted it off and thankfully found that stellar ensemble to tackle it in their current concert version. Too bad it's only for two performances.
BWW Reviews: The Return of Hilarity with Theatre22's LIVE! FROM THE LAST NIGHT OF MY LIFEBWW Reviews: The Return of Hilarity with Theatre22's LIVE! FROM THE LAST NIGHT OF MY LIFE
March 30, 2015

Let's set the way back machine to September 2011 and we'll visit a time when Theatre Schmeater's production of a new play from Wayne Rawley kind of took Seattle by storm. It sold out houses and won several local awards. Now 3 years later and Theatre22 has tried to recreate the magic by remounting the show with the same cast and much of the same crew. And Doug Sample (Ryan Higgins) and the rest of the cast may look a bit older but they're also more seasoned and focused performers as they manage to not only rediscover much of that magic but in some ways surpass it.


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