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: Rewritten PAINT YOUR WAGON at 5th Ave is Better but Still Has ProblemsBWW Review: Rewritten PAINT YOUR WAGON at 5th Ave is Better but Still Has Problems
Posted: Jun. 10, 2016


BWW Review: Sweet and Funny MYSTERY OF LOVE & SEX at ACTBWW Review: Sweet and Funny MYSTERY OF LOVE & SEX at ACT
Posted: Jun. 3, 2016


BWW Review: Strawshop's 9 CIRCLES Elicits Powerful Emotions on WarBWW Review: Strawshop’s 9 CIRCLES Elicits Powerful Emotions on War
Posted: Jun. 6, 2016


BWW Review: MOTOWN at the Paramount is a Truncated, Desperately Spun DisappointmentBWW Review: MOTOWN at the Paramount is Truncated and Desperately Spun
Posted: Jun. 1, 2016


BWW Review: Intiman's Seething STICK FLY Feels ClunkyBWW Review: Intiman’s Seething STICK FLY Feels Clunky
Posted: Jun. 2, 2016


SUMMER STAGES: BWW's Top Summer Theatre Picks – SeattleSUMMER STAGES: BWW’s Top Summer Theatre Picks – Seattle
Posted: Jun. 2, 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


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 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: Shocking and Powerful DISGRACED at Seattle RepBWW Review: Shocking and Powerful DISGRACED at Seattle Rep
Posted: Jan. 14, 2016


BWW 2015 Seattle Critic's Choice Awards (Jay's Picks)BWW 2015 Seattle Critic's Choice Awards (Jay's Picks)
Posted: Jan. 4, 2016


BWW Review: Rewritten PAINT YOUR WAGON at 5th Ave is Better but Still Has ProblemsBWW Review: Rewritten PAINT YOUR WAGON at 5th Ave is Better but Still Has Problems
June 10, 2016

I'll admit unfamiliarity with Lerner and Loewe's "Paint Your Wagon" before recently. Never saw the original, never saw the movie, and had only a passing familiarity with the bigger songs in it. So to educate myself before seeing this production I watched the movie, which was also rewritten from the original musical version but what I had available to me. Wow, what a train wreck that is! Horrific story, songs that move nothing along and a movie that seems to be there solely for Lee Marvin to mug to the camera. So I was trepidatious to say the least about this rewritten version at the 5th Avenue Theatre and after seeing it I'm of two minds.
BWW Review: Strawshop's 9 CIRCLES Elicits Powerful Emotions on WarBWW Review: Strawshop's 9 CIRCLES Elicits Powerful Emotions on War
June 6, 2016

Sometimes you go to a show and you see what can only be described as a "Star Turn". That performance that shows just how amazing an actor is. But what do you call it when you see it over and over again? Lately I call it Conner Neddersen as, just like his previous stellar performances, his performance in Strawberry Theatre Workshop's current production of "9 Circles" shows off once again just how fine of an actor he is and how he keeps growing better and better with each role.
BWW Review: Sweet and Funny MYSTERY OF LOVE & SEX at ACTBWW Review: Sweet and Funny MYSTERY OF LOVE & SEX at ACT
June 3, 2016

In this ever changing world we are getting more and more acceptable variations on love. There are still the traditional ones, man and woman, parent and child, friend to friend. But people are opening up to more with same sex unions and even polyamorous relationships becoming more common. No one can tell you who to love but people will surely try as is evident in the sweet and funny examination of 'The Mystery of Love & Sex' currently playing at ACT.
BWW Review: Intiman's Seething STICK FLY Feels ClunkyBWW Review: Intiman's Seething STICK FLY Feels Clunky
June 2, 2016

One of the reasons we love a good family drama is it appeals to that voyeur in us all. We love to peek inside someone else's world and see how it compares to our own. But as chaotic and messy as those lives may be they still speak more eloquently and at just the right moments than we could, being scripted and all. And while peeking in on the secrets and lies of the LeVay family in Lydia R. Diamond's Sticky Fly, now playing as part of the Intiman Theatre Festival, may be powerful and evocative it also lacked some of that ordered chaos as much of the pacing of the play and the timing of it all felt clunky and unfocused.
SUMMER STAGES: BWW's Top Summer Theatre Picks  Seattle
June 2, 2016

Once again those summer months are upon us but that doesn't mean we can't still spend some time in a darkened theater. Here are my top picks for summer shows happening around the Seattle area.
BWW Review: MOTOWN at the Paramount is a Truncated, Desperately Spun DisappointmentBWW Review: MOTOWN at the Paramount is a Truncated, Desperately Spun Disappointment
June 1, 2016

That old idiom, "History is written by the victors" kept ringing in my head last night as I watched the National Touring Company of "Motown: The Musical" at the Paramount Theatre. Or rather one could say, "History is written by the one telling it." This retelling of the life of Berry Gordy and his creation of Motown Records with a book written by Berry Gordy based on the autobiography by Berry Gordy comes across like a jock in the locker room bragging about all his conquests. But with such bad writing and storytelling coupled with an overabundance of half songs the show feels like a bunch of skewed half-truths and amounts to a tepid and forced evening.
BWW Review: Fantastic Z's PSYCHO BEACH PARTY Provides Hot Kitschy HilarityBWW Review: Fantastic Z's PSYCHO BEACH PARTY Provides Hot Kitschy Hilarity
May 27, 2016

I'll admit I'm quite picky and protective about the works of Charles Busch. He's one of my favorite authors with his brilliant ability to tell a well thought out story through the kitschy lens of 40's, 50's and 60's pop culture. I've been fortunate enough to see the master himself perform his own works three times. I've only ever seen a local production attempt one of his works once before (a dreadful bastardization of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom that need never be mentioned again). So when I heard that Fantastic Z was performing his most well known work, Psycho Beach Party AND it was opening on my birthday I thought this could either be a wonderful thing or the universe playing a cruel joke. Well lucky for me (and for all of you) the folks at Fantastic Z and director Kyle Baiz must have as much love and respect for the piece as I do as they managed a fun and frothy, pitch perfect production.
BWW Review: Seattle Public Theater's CAUGHT Examines Twisting TruthBWW Review: Seattle Public Theater's CAUGHT Examines Twisting Truth
May 23, 2016

Absolute truth is an elusive thing. In our daily lives we lie to get what we want. We lie to be polite and spare someone's feelings. We lie by not telling all the facts. And sometimes we lie by manipulating the facts so they're true to us. Seattle Public Theater's current production "Caught" by Christopher Chen walks a treacherous tightrope between truth and lies on multiple levels with a thoughtful and humorous show. And even as engaging as it was, ultimately it felt a little long winded and I question what its own truth really was.
BWW Review: Book-It's Beautifully Touching THE BROTHERS K, PART TWO is a Must SeeBWW Review: Book-It's Beautifully Touching THE BROTHERS K, PART TWO is a Must See
May 16, 2016

Dear Readers, if you read my review for Part One of "The Brothers K", still playing at Book-It Repertory Theatre then you'll know the difficulties I had watching it what with all the onion cutting going on in the theater. Well last night with the premiere of "The Brothers K, Part Two: The Left Stuff" the onions were there in force along with tons of dust, pollen and cats. Must have been the case as the tears were flowing all night long. With just more of the same goodness from Part One, Part Two solidified just how good this story and this production is.
BWW Review: Sultry and Gripping A HAND OF TALONS from Pork Filled ProductionsBWW Review: Sultry and Gripping A HAND OF TALONS from Pork Filled Productions
May 13, 2016

It's always fun to take a trip back to New Providence providing you can avoid getting on the bad side of the Yao family. Now before you go looking for this vacation spot on some travel website, let me tell you it's not a real place but the fantastical steampunk world created by author Maggie Lee. And if you were lucky enough to catch her pervious melodramatic serial plays "The Clockwork Professor" and "The Tumbleweed Zephyr" then you already know how much fun a visit to New Providence is and how much you need to catch the third installment, "A Hand of Talons" currently playing at Theatre Off Jackson. Same fun, same gorgeous costumes, same suspense and intrigue. It's just always a good time.
BWW Review: Underdone Gem WORKING Shows Off the Working Class at ShowtunesBWW Review: Underdone Gem WORKING Shows Off the Working Class at Showtunes
May 9, 2016

It's something most of us have to do at least 5 days a week, go to work. So you'd think a musical about folks and their working lives would resonate more. But the musical "Working", despite being loved by musical theater nerds, never really caught on. In fact it only ran for 24 performances on Broadway back in 1978. But thankfully the folks at Showtunes have done what they do and dusted this one off for a weekend so more people can discover how wonderful it is.
BWW Review: Seattle Shakes' Gimmicky ROMEO AND JULIET Lacks PassionBWW Review: Seattle Shakes' Gimmicky ROMEO AND JULIET Lacks Passion
May 9, 2016

A few months back another group in Seattle put up an immersive production of "Romeo and Juliet" that blew me away and finally gave me the chance to see a completely solid production that I liked. But even while watching that I knew that Seattle Shakespeare Company would be closing out their season with their own intimate production of the show and I worried that the chances of getting another great production might be tempting fate or the theater Gods or the odds or whatever. Well unfortunately my fears were well founded as this new staging, while having a few stand out supporting performances, ultimately falls flat with a severe lack of passion or love (crucial for a love story) and an overarching theme that at best feels confusing and tacked on and at worst, pretentious.
BWW Review: Family, Religion and Baseball in Book-It's THE BROTHERS K, PART ONEBWW Review: Family, Religion and Baseball in Book-It's THE BROTHERS K, PART ONE
May 9, 2016

I would say that I loved every second of Book-It Repertory Theatre's current adaptation of David James Duncan's 'The Brothers K, Part One: Strike Zones' if it weren't for all the damned onions someone was cutting in the theater. What? There were no onions? So then I was just repeatedly tearing up over the story? Oh, well then, I guess I can say it. Yup, with its beautiful adaptation and stunningly honest performances, I loved every second of Book-It Repertory Theatre's current adaptation of David James Duncan's 'The Brothers K, Part One: Strike Zones'.
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).


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