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 Review: Café Nordo's TO SAVOR TOMORROW Flies High with LaughsBWW Review: Café Nordo’s TO SAVOR TOMORROW Flies High with Laughs
Posted: Apr. 8, 2016


BWW Review: NEWSIES is a Rollicking Good Time, If You Turn Off Your BrainBWW Review: NEWSIES is a Rollicking Good Time, If You Turn Off Your Brain
Posted: Apr. 27, 2016


BWW Review: Annex's PUNY HUMANS Drones on with Not Much to SayBWW Review: Annex’s PUNY HUMANS Drones on with Not Much to Say
Posted: Apr. 25, 2016


BWW Review: ACT's Funny STUPID F**KING BIRD Gets Too DeconstructedBWW Review: ACT’s Funny STUPID F**KING BIRD Gets Too Deconstructed
Posted: Apr. 15, 2016


BWW Review: New Century's MY NAME IS ASHER LEV Elicits Powerful Emotion from the UnfamiliarBWW Review: New Century’s MY NAME IS ASHER LEV Elicits Powerful Emotion
Posted: Apr. 25, 2016


BWW Review: Rep's SHERLOCK HOLMES Lacks Some Grace But It's Still HolmesBWW Review: Rep’s SHERLOCK HOLMES Lacks Some Grace But It’s Still Holmes
Posted: Apr. 28, 2016


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Review: Emotionally Transcendent COME FROM AWAY at Seattle RepBWW Review: Emotionally Transcendent COME FROM AWAY at Seattle Rep
Posted: Nov. 19, 2015


BWW Reviews: WICKED at Paramount a Bit Flat but Still WickedBWW Reviews: WICKED at Paramount a Bit Flat but Still Wicked
Posted: Jul. 10, 2015


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


BWW Review: Risky and Innovative AMERICAN IDIOT at ArtsWest Pays OffBWW Review: Risky and Innovative AMERICAN IDIOT at ArtsWest Pays Off
Posted: Sep. 14, 2015


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
Posted: May. 15, 2015


BWW Review: Sweet, Romantic and Tragic CONSTELLATIONS at the Seattle RepBWW Review: Sweet, Romantic and Tragic CONSTELLATIONS at the Seattle Rep
Posted: Jan. 28, 2016


BWW Review: ArtsWest's DEATH OF A SALESMAN Filled with Pathos but Lacks ConnectionBWW Review: ArtsWest's DEATH OF A SALESMAN Filled with Pathos but Lacks Connection
May 3, 2016

One of the major problems with the Loman family in Arthur Miller's masterpiece "Death of a Salesman", currently closing out the season at ArtsWest, is that the family doesn't communicate with each other. They bluster and puff up about things that may or may not have happened but they never really talk to each other about what's important. And while that lack of communication may serve the story well it does not serve the performance as the same could be said for the production at ArtsWest itself. During it's over 3 hour runtime there were a lot of emotion and stirring speeches being made but for the most part the actors were not connecting with each other and if they aren't connecting with each other then the audience cannot connect with them.
BWW Review: WET's Creepy and Sometimes Confusing THE THINGS ARE AGAINST USBWW Review: WET's Creepy and Sometimes Confusing THE THINGS ARE AGAINST US
May 2, 2016

Most often when you go see a play there is a very plain narrative, a beginning, a middle and an end to convey your story. Some plays out there, however, make you work a little harder either with non-linear structure or an existential bent. And then there are some plays that go so far that you walk out of them thinking "What the hell did I just see?" Well Washington Ensemble Theatre's creepy and surreal "The Things Are Against Us", currently playing at 12th Avenue Arts, is firmly footed in that second camp but often dipped its toe into the third which resulted in a show that was creepy and fun but left my theater companion and me with a car ride home filled with statements like, "Well, I think this is what happened."
BWW Review: Rep's SHERLOCK HOLMES Lacks Some Grace But It's Still HolmesBWW Review: Rep's SHERLOCK HOLMES Lacks Some Grace But It's Still Holmes
April 28, 2016

Back in 2013 the Seattle Rep gave us a lovely Christmas Present with R. Hamilton Wright and David Pichette's wonderful adaptation of "The Hound of the Baskervilles". So when they announced that they would be ending this season with more Holmes from Wright with "Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem", naturally there was a lot of excitement and anticipation for more from this team. And while the team is still on point and while it's still more Sherlock goodness, this original Holmes mystery from Wright doesn't quite have the elegance and grace of a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle piece.
BWW Review: NEWSIES is a Rollicking Good Time, If You Turn Off Your BrainBWW Review: NEWSIES is a Rollicking Good Time, If You Turn Off Your Brain
April 27, 2016

I will admit to the fact that the original 1992 film of "Newsies" is one of my guilty pleasures. So when I heard they were making a stage version of the musical I was dubious but excited. The original already made you overlook much of the schlock, cheese, historical inaccuracies and plot holes. But the stage version, currently at the Paramount Theatre, with its retooled story forces even more of a willing suspension of disbelief almost to the point of brain death. But if you can manage that level of tucking rational thought into some dark corner then you're bound to have a good time as this spectacle is loaded with tons of vibrancy and a bevy of cute "boys" who sure do sing and dance pretty.
BWW Review: Annex's PUNY HUMANS Drones on with Not Much to SayBWW Review: Annex's PUNY HUMANS Drones on with Not Much to Say
April 25, 2016

Slice of life plays, like "Puny Humans" currently playing at Annex Theatre, are difficult at best especially when focusing on one specific sub-culture such as Comic-Con attendees. You need something new to say about your subjects, you need to make your subjects empathetic and you need an over-arching reason for us to be looking at this particular slice of life. Unfortunately writers Bret Fetzer and Keiko Green fail at all three of those elements making their 2 hour and 45 minute show (yeah, you heard me) drone on.
BWW Review: New Century's MY NAME IS ASHER LEV Elicits Powerful Emotion from the UnfamiliarBWW Review: New Century's MY NAME IS ASHER LEV Elicits Powerful Emotion from the Unfamiliar
April 25, 2016

I doubt that many of us these days have such a rigid upbringing that our passion causes us to question our ideals. Sure there are people with strict ideologies but we live in a more inclusive and forgiving world (most of us) and usually our beliefs follow suit with our wants. Which is why Aaron Posner's play "My Name is Asher Lev", currently being performed by New Century Theatre Company, with its juxtaposition of strict religious beliefs against passionate art might come across as a bit foreign to most of us and a potential hard sell. But thanks to the usual talent and commitment from the folks at NCTC even this unfamiliar tale can resonate with power.
BWW Review: ACT's Funny STUPID F**KING BIRD Gets Too DeconstructedBWW Review: ACT's Funny STUPID F**KING BIRD Gets Too Deconstructed
April 15, 2016

I'm perfectly fine when a play chooses to break the fourth wall and become self-referential. The ability for anything to be able to point out its own shortcomings is a sign of self-actualization. But when a play repeatedly does so and then pats itself on the back for its cleverness of doing so as does Aaron Posner's "Stupid F**king Bird", currently playing at ACT, then it becomes wearing almost to the point of insulting. And while Posner's play certainly has its funny moments, those repeated exposes onto itself started to feel like the play was flipping the audience the bird (and I don't mean a Seagull).
BWW Review: Caf Nordo's TO SAVOR TOMORROW Flies High with Laughs
April 8, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts, put your tray tables and seat backs in the upright position and hang on as Cafe Nordo presents an evening of fun and food with their 60's spy send up, "To Savor Tomorrow". And as usual with the Cafe Nordo shows, if the laughs weren't enough for you then the delectable food will be.
BWW Review: Sweet Gay RomCom with THE HAT at Gay CityBWW Review: Sweet Gay RomCom with THE HAT at Gay City
April 3, 2016

Romantic comedies for the straight community abound. But as they say in the current production from Gay City Arts and The Bitter Single Guy Productions, "The Hat", gay stories aren't told much unless they involve AIDS or civil rights. This is what makes "The Hat" so refreshing. It's a simple, cute romantic comedy about a newly single guy in his thirties suddenly trying to date in this modern world of hookup apps and he just happens to be gay. And while the story wandered a bit the dialog is crisp and fresh and the characters could not be more likable and relatable.
BWW Reviews: Stellar Performances but No Story in 5th Ave's A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLINBWW Reviews: Stellar Performances but No Story in 5th Ave's A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN
April 1, 2016

I'll admit to only a passing familiarity with Janis Joplin before I saw the current show at the 5th Avenue Theatre, A Night with Janis Joplin, in that I knew who she was but was hard pressed to come up with any of her songs. Of course, after seeing the show I found I knew more of her stuff than I thought, I just didn't know it was her. And while Kacee Clanton as Janis is quite a sight to see not to mention the other incredible women she has up there with her, the show as a whole doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it a biography, a rock concert, a history of blues? Who can say? But what I can say is that the connecting dialog attempting some kind of through line for the show was at best boring and at worst forced and embarrassing.
BWW Review: Seattle Rep's BROWNSVILLE SONG Hits No Good NotesBWW Review: Seattle Rep's BROWNSVILLE SONG Hits No Good Notes
March 31, 2016

It's all well and good to want to shine a spotlight on urban violence and inner city gangs through entertainment (theater, film, TV, etc.). It gets the issues out there in the hopes that something might get changed. But as it's been done time and time before, if you're going tell another one of these kinds of stories then have something new to say and tell it well. Unfortunately the current production at the Seattle Rep, "brownsville song (b-side for tray)" fails in both respects with bad writing, bad direction and bad performances amounting to a show that felt it was important but came across as cliche.
BWW Review: Local Jewell's LILIES Lacks LevelsBWW Review: Local Jewell's LILIES Lacks Levels
March 28, 2016

As you may know by now, Dear Readers, one of my pet peeves in any performance is the lack of levels. If you don't vary your emotion, intent and delivery for a character then that character might as well just be reading lines from a book. And while there were a few stand outs in the current production of "Lilies or the Revival of a Romantic Drama" from Local Jewell Productions, for the most part the lack of levels made the show monotonously drone on.
BWW Review: Gripping Vulnerability in MAP's BELLEVILLEBWW Review: Gripping Vulnerability in MAP's BELLEVILLE
March 28, 2016

MAP Theatre may not be one of the most prolific companies out in Seattle. In fact they tend to do only one or two shows a year. But what we have come to expect from them is certainly more quality than quantity as they invest tremendous amounts of thought and talent into those few shows. Their latest offering, Amy Herzog's "Belleville" currently playing at 12th Ave Arts is no exception. What looks to be a simple relationship drama, when viewed through the lens of the folks at MAP, quickly evolves into a taut psychological thriller.
BWW Review: An Underdone Gem Shines with Seattle Shake's MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSIONBWW Review: An Underdone Gem Shines with Seattle Shake's MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION
March 24, 2016

When people think of George Bernard Shaw plays they inevitably go to "Pygmalion" or "Arms and the Man" or something like that. But there's one of his out there that does not see enough of the light of day, "Mrs. Warren's Profession". Maybe it's due to the subject matter or maybe not enough people know about it. Who knows? But it's long been one of my personal favorites so when I saw that Seattle Shakespeare Company was putting it up; you can imagine how excited I was. But of course the cynic in me quickly turned that excitement to trepidation with the thoughts of "Oh please don't screw up one of the few times this show will be done around here." Well lucky for me and for all you Dear Readers, who should rush out and catch this before it's gone, the Seattle Shakespeare Company does absolute honor to this fantastic work with some tight direction from Victor Pappas and performances to rival any production out there (yes, including the one I saw in New York a few years back).
BWW Review: Kevin Kent Gives a Hilarious and Heartfelt EULOGY at West of LeninBWW Review: Kevin Kent Gives a Hilarious and Heartfelt EULOGY at West of Lenin
March 20, 2016

Working through the grief of the loss of a loved one is never easy. Luckily Eleanor Mae (Kevin Kent) is on hand to help us through the grief. To help us cry, to help us process and yes, to help us laugh in the fantastic new show "Eulogy" at West of Lenin. But this is not your ordinary riff on loss as it's our loved ones Eleanor is keeping us laughing about until our faces hurt.
BWW Review: Touching MY HEART IS THE DRUM at Village Suffers Pace and StructureBWW Review: Touching MY HEART IS THE DRUM at Village Suffers Pace and Structure
March 18, 2016

One of my favorite events each year is the Village Originals Festival of New Musicals. Each year there's at least one new show that you long to get a full staging. Back in 2014 that show was "My Heart is the Drum" with it's touching story and engaging music. It showed so much potential and I was thrilled when I saw it on the season lineup this season. And while it still shows a lot of promise it still needs a lot of work to make it a tighter narrative and paced better.
BWW Review: Powerful PARADE from Sound Theatre CompanyBWW Review: Powerful PARADE from Sound Theatre Company
March 14, 2016

In any given show you usually have the good guys and the bad guys. The people you identify with as being in the right and those in the wrong. But even when some people are clearly wrong it's possible to see why they react the way they do if the performances are strong enough. Such is the case with Sound Theatre Company's current production of Parade as the performances throughout are so clear and so strong that even those doing despicable and abhorrent things can seem reasonable, at least within their own ideologies.
BWW Review: Technically Superior VIOLET at ArtsWest Lacks Emotional ConnectionBWW Review: Technically Superior VIOLET at ArtsWest Lacks Emotional Connection
March 14, 2016

There's no doubt that Jeanine Tesori's music in the musical "Violet", currently playing at ArtsWest, is stirring and powerful but it's the lyrics and book by Brian Crawley that truly pack the punch in the show. But of course they would as the show is rife with hot button topics of that era as well as our own. And while the ensemble manages some of the tightest and most technically proficient performances I've seen I didn't always get from them the importance or danger associated with the stakes of those issues and so didn't always feel the emotional connection to the story.
BWW Review: Killer Talent in 5th Ave/ACT's ASSASSINSBWW Review: Killer Talent in 5th Ave/ACT's ASSASSINS
March 11, 2016

Only the incredible Stephen Sondheim could make a musical about Presidential assassins and make it work. It's a dark subject that you think wouldn't be sung about. But Sondheim shows off his storytelling prowess by creating a sort of club or group therapy aspect to the group of killers as they attempt to tie all their works together with the act of their most famous member. And while the cast of the current joint production from the 5th Avenue Theatre and ACT certainly has the talent to pull off this demanding show, they don't always feel cohesive or in the same club but hopefully as they settle in that will come.
BWW Review: Raw Examination of Social Work in LUNA GALE at Seattle RepBWW Review: Raw Examination of Social Work in LUNA GALE at Seattle Rep
March 10, 2016

Rebecca Gilman's play "Luna Gale" currently performing at the Seattle Rep has no good guys in it. But then it also has no bad guys in it. Instead of preaching morality or her own agenda what she's done is to present a raw and honest look at people. You may not agree with them, but are they wrong?


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