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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. Jay is also an actor in the local Seattle scene.
BWW Reviews: SPT's THE LANGUAGE ARCHIVE Explores Love Beyond Words
May 24, 2013
For a show that is all about words and how to express them correctly, it sometimes feels that Julia Cho's "The Language Archive" could have done a little better expressing them efficiently. Occasionally the show tends to drone on and could have ended a few times. Fortunately the cast in Seattle Public Theater's production is so engaging that those droning moments dissipate quickly and what's left is an intriguingly sweet love story.
BWW Reviews: Schmeater's TWILIGHT ZONE: LIVE! Offers Up The Creepy Mixed With The Sweet
May 18, 2013
Theatrically speaking, there are few things in this town that are a sure lock of enjoyment. Anything from New Century? Sure. Putting Bobbi Kotula on stage? Hell yes. And any of the "Twilight Zone: Live!" productions from Theater Schmeater? Damn Skippy! The tall, dark and brooding master of the bizarre, Rod Serling is back to take us into another dimension. A dimension of sight, a dimension of sound and a dimension of a kick ass night of eerie 60's fun that definitely qualifies as one of those sure locks I spoke of.
BWW Reviews: Arouet's THE TEMPERAMENTALS - Important History Told with Care
May 11, 2013
In these exciting times where state after state are ratifying same sex marriage laws and teens are taking their same sex boyfriends and girlfriends to school dances, we can sometimes lose sight of the people that fought to break down those barriers to get us where we are today. This is why stories such as the ones presented in the play "The Temperamentals" are so important. And the importance of this production and its stirring slice of history, currently being presented at the Ballard Underground, is not lost on the folks at Arouet as they tell the story with care and compassion.
BWW Reviews: CHICAGO at Village Has a Cast of Killers!
May 10, 2013
I've seen it more times than I care to count. Between the movie version, the still running Broadway revival, the touring productions and copious local productions most people have. And why not? 'Chicago' is one of Kander and Ebb's best and most enduring. So when Village Theatre announced it would be closing their season I thought, 'Oh goodie I get to see it AGAIN!' But Director Steve Tomkins has not only assembled one kick-ass cast but they've put their own little twist on it. No, they haven't set it in space or anything but they have returned the glitz, flash and humor to a show that has become known for seductively brooding in the dark. Oh the sex is still there but it's accompanied by a sense of whimsy that makes this production stand apart.
BWW Reviews: TEAM OF HEROES 3 at Annex Suffers Lack of Pace and Plot
May 4, 2013
The conclusion of the "Team of Heroes" Trilogy, "Team of Heroes: No More Heroes" currently playing at Annex Theatre has swooped in to save us all, but it could use some saving of its own. Yes, all of your favorite damaged superheroes and super villains are there as well as little gimmicks and tricks to make the audience squeal, but unfortunately the show slowly plods along with no direction or purpose and ultimately fizzles.
BWW Reviews: Seattle Shake's TAMING OF THE SHREW - A Rip Snortin' Good Time
May 2, 2013
I've always been leery of transplanting locales and time periods of classic plays just because we can. Naked 'Macbeth', 'Romeo and Juliet' in a high school, cartoon lions in Africa doing 'Hamlet'. Often times it's just to shake things up and lends nothing to the story. But the current production of 'The Taming of the Shrew' from Seattle Shakespeare Company setting those battling lovers in a Trailer Park not only works but is also completely inspired. In an era of reality TV showing rednecks right and left, a story of feuding siblings, ball busting women and swaggering men is a perfect fit. And while I usually hate reality TV for it's mocking of people it feels are inferior, this production shows no hate or contempt for the trailer park set but revels in their joy and boisterousness and invites you to laugh right along WITH them. And laugh you do!
BWW Reviews: ASSISTED LIVING at ACT Lives Only From Assistance
May 1, 2013
A few days ago I posted a review for another comedy in town where I commented on the fact that they just don't write farces like they used to. And last night the current production at ACT, "Assisted Living" only served to support that statement. That's assuming this World Premiere play from local playwright Katie Forgette was even trying to be a farce. The show, aside from containing a very thin plot and some highly cliche jokes, suffers from an identity crisis as it's not sure what kind of show it wants to be; farce, political commentary, nostalgia piece, etc. But the show does manage some decent moments largely due to the superb cast not to mention borrowing scenes from good plays.
BWW Reviews: BLACK WATCH at the Paramount is a Visceral Experience Not To Be Missed
April 29, 2013
More often than not when you go to see a play you do just that, see it. You attend, enjoy, let it wash over you, but still manage to stay safely detached from any unsettling things that happen during the narrative. But sometimes a play comes along that goes beyond a simple storytelling and takes its audience by the hand and propels them into the story almost allowing them to become a part of it. Sounds pretty cool right? Now imagine that story is the most vicious elements of war. And that will give you an indication of what the current show at the Paramount, "Black Watch" has to offer, a gut wrenchingly intense experience that goes beyond simple theater and leaves its audience shaken in more ways than one.
BWW Reviews: BOEING BOEING at Seattle Rep - Nicely Naughty Hilarity
April 28, 2013
They just don't make good door slammer farces like they used to. Perhaps we've lost the sensibilities to come up with new ideas that make these tales of mistaken identity, concealed trysts and ridiculous characters funny. But luckily we still have old chestnuts like "Boeing Boeing", currently playing at the Seattle Rep, and people like director Allison Narver who understand what it takes to bring these tales to life and make them gut-bustingly funny.
BWW Reviews: FLASHDANCE at the Paramount - What? A Feeling? Nope.
April 17, 2013
Not since the epic failure that was 'Princesses' at the 5th Avenue have I seen such an abysmal big stage musical with aspirations to Broadway as 'Flashdance - The Musical' currently playing at the Paramount Theatre. There are so many things wrong with this show that I'm not even certain where to begin, but I'll give it a shot.
BWW Reviews: NCTC's THE TRIAL Brimming With Nightmarish Intensity
April 12, 2013
This is not a play. You are informed that as soon as you step into the oppressive world of New Century Theatre Company's current production of "Franz Kafka's The Trial" adapted by Kenneth Albers. And it's true; it's not so much a play as it is an existential experience as the bureaucracy of this world sorts even the audience as they enter (be sure to come in with the people you want to sit with). And what follows is a cool and finely crafted descent down the rabbit hole from one of Seattle's best theater companies.
BWW Reviews: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY at Balagan – Stunningly Powerful
April 6, 2013
If you've seen it you know you love it. "August: Osage County" has got to be one of the most powerful stories to grace the stage in quite some time. And soon everyone will love it as it's about to be turned into a movie due out next November with a powerhouse cast. But until that time you can still visit with the Westons right here in Seattle with the regional premiere of this stunning work brilliantly put up by Balagan Theatre.
BWW Reviews: EDITH CAN SHOOT THINGS … at SPT a Bit Cliché But Still Touching
April 5, 2013
Remember those cheesy After School Specials that were on TV when we were young? No? Just me? (Man, I'm old!) Anyway, for those not old enough to remember, they were hour-long specials back in the 80's and 90's that dealt with teen issues such as pregnancy, abuse, and even homosexuality (Ah, "The Truth About Alex"). Well, the current production from Seattle Public Theater, "Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them", has a similar feel to it. And while not as cheesy as those specials of my youth I did find a few moments where I felt like I was 14 again being taught a lesson by the fine folks at ABC. But cheesy or not, the production manages to tell the story with heart and depth.
BWW Reviews: Theater Schmeater's THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE Shines with Dark Intensity
March 24, 2013
To say that the current production from Theater Schmeater, "The Gingerbread House" by Mark Schultz, is intense is somewhat of an understatement. In fact this modern day fable doesn't just tell its story so much as it beats you over the head with it. A little long winded at times, this gripping tale will leave you shaken to say the least. In fact I think as I was leaving I said to my theater companion, "I'm a little messed up after that", although I used a more colorful epithet.
BWW Reviews: GREY GARDENS at ACT Not Quite Up To Expectations
March 22, 2013
You know when you go on vacation and come across that amazing restaurant that serves one of the most surprising dishes you've ever had that you pine over for years and then you find a restaurant back home that makes the same recipe? And maybe they don't have all the best ingredients or maybe the chef isn't quite as good but it just doesn't live up to the original? Well, unfortunately that's the equivalent of what I witnessed last night at "Grey Gardens" currently at ACT. It's still the same amazing show by Doug Wright, Scott Frankel, and Michael Korie and definitely had some outstanding moments but the whole just didn't quite compare to when I saw it on Broadway with the incredible Christine Ebersole.
BWW Reviews: TRAILS at Village – A Slow Starter But Worth the Hike
March 18, 2013
A new musical about two old friends hiking the Appalachian Trail doesn't sound like a dead lock winner does it? I mean, how much can we sing about hiking? And while it does take a bit to really hook into you and at times isn't so sure of its footing, the new musical 'Trails' currently playing at Village Theatre manages to walk off with your heart through some very fine performances.
BWW Review: Seattle Shakes' LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST - A RomCom That Needs Focus
March 16, 2013
Sometimes Shakespeare is all about murder and revenge and history and import and sometimes it's just a goofy romp through the ins and outs of the heart. And "Love's Labour's Lost" from the Seattle Shakespeare Company currently playing at the Center Theatre is definitely part of the latter group. Probably the biggest example of Shakespeare at his most frivolous, the production definitely had its shining moments but tended to betray its own story near the end and whether that's the script or the direction, it left me a little wanting.
BWW Reviews: Powerful Class Warfare in Seattle Rep's GOOD PEOPLE
March 14, 2013
Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire has made a name for himself as an author who takes those uncomfortable situations and artfully puts them up on stage with heart and humor. Whether dealing with the loss of a child or the loss of memory his crisp dialogue always conveys sincere emotion and a discomfort that's riveting. His recent "Good People" currently playing at the Seattle Rep is no exception. And in addition to Lindsay-Abaire's fantastic script, Director David Saint and the Rep have assembled a superb cast and crafted a truly engaging power struggle between two old friends.
BWW Reviews: ALTAR BOYZ at Seattle Musical Theatre - Filled With Humor, Heart and Hips
February 16, 2013
God has heard our prayers. He knew we were all longing for some hot guys to come and teach us all about his divine wisdom and make us laugh along the way. And so he has sent us the Seattle Musical Theatre production of 'Altar Boyz' to show us the path. Not only do they have some incredible voices, sexy gyrations and hilarious characters but these Boyz and director Troy Wageman managed to make the Boyz more personable and empathetic than I've seen in previous productions, making their story all the more meaningful.
BWW Reviews: 5th Avenue's MUSIC MAN High On Energy But Low On Chemistry
February 15, 2013
Meredith Wilson's "The Music Man" may be about a con man but at its heart it's a love story. A love story about a man who's willing to give up his duplicitous ways so he can be with the one woman who sees through his lies. And it's because this is a love story that it's such a shame that the current production at the 5th Avenue Theatre is lacking in love. Luckily what the production lacks in some areas it makes up for in the energy, comedy and fun surrounding it.
BWW Reviews: WAR HORSE at The Paramount Goes Beyond Theater and into Art
February 14, 2013
Sometimes all the elements of a show come together to form something truly special. Every aspect combines to take the piece beyond just a piece of theater and into the realm of art. (Yes I know theater is an art form but you know what I mean.) Well, "War Horse" currently playing at the Paramount is one of those shows, an entrancing and truly remarkable experience that needs to be seen.
BWW Reviews: Second Story's HOW TO SUCCEED is Fun but Lacking Style
February 11, 2013
Frank Loesser's "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" is one of those shows that's just plain fun. It's hard to make it not fun. But beyond the fun, in order to make it really shine it needs a consistent style and pace and that's where the current production at Second Story Rep could have tried harder.
BWW Reviews: Balagan's NEXT TO NORMAL; A Killer Show Missing a Spark (No Pun Intended)
February 9, 2013
The highly anticipated local production of the hit Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey show "Next To Normal" has finally opened at Capitol Hill's Balagan Theatre. And while still an incredibly evocative and powerful show, the current production, while technically superb, didn't quite manage that same hard hitting spark.
BWW Reviews: Science and Chemistry in Seattle Rep's PHOTOGRAPH 51
February 7, 2013
When looking back on the history of the human race it always shocks me on how backwards a people we really can be. For example, why would a people restrict half of their fully functioning and intelligent members from trying to create advancements in their chosen fields? Yes, that's what we did and that's some of the central plotline of Anna Ziegler's "Photograph 51", currently playing at the Seattle Rep, focuses on. This engaging play shines a spotlight on an interesting moment in history where a brilliant scientist's work was hampered simply based on her gender.
BWW Reviews: How Showtunes' FALSETTOS Made Me a Weepy Mess
February 4, 2013
I should really start off by apologizing, dear readers, as I'm about to share with you a production that you cannot see. Alas it only showed for one weekend but for those like myself who were fortunate enough to catch Showtunes' latest production, "Falsettos" then you realize that, even though it was simply a concert version, it is now the production to which all future productions of the show must be compared.
BWW Reviews: A DAY IN THE DEATH OF JOE EGG at ACT Engaging But Dated
February 3, 2013
What would you do if you had a child who couldn't run or play or really even communicate? That's the central question of Peter Nichols' 1968 play A Day in the Death of Joe Egg currently playing at ACT from fledgling theater group Thalia's Umbrella. And while I definitely found some moments and performances in the show thoughtful and engaging, the show itself just seems a bit dated and droning.
BWW Reviews: Nicely Layered Performances in THE UNDERSTUDY at Seattle Public Theater
February 2, 2013
Theresa Rebeck has made a name for herself with her rich and engaging characters on stage and most recently with her look into the underbelly of theater with her hit TV show, "Smash". And along those lines her play "The Understudy" currently playing at Seattle Public Theater manages a fun and illuminating look into show business as well. And while the play doesn't always have the most original concepts out there, this production manages some finely layered performances from its ensemble cast.
BWW Reviews: A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE at Theater Schmeater Shines With Dark Intensity
January 27, 2013
I love a good dark comedy. There's just nothing more fun than laughing at things you really shouldn't. This is probably why I like the plays (and films) of Martin McDonagh so much. Not just that they deal with people with nefarious pasts doing dark dealings but that he always puts a kind of ridiculous surreal twist on those dealings. And his latest play, "A Behanding in Spokane" currently playing at Theater Schmeater, is no exception. And thankfully the folks at the Schmea have taken it and infused their production with the perfect amounts of stirring intensity and vicious hilarity to amount to a killer evening of theater.
BWW Reviews: Forced BEATING UP BACHMAN at West of Lenin Feels Like an Early Workshop
January 26, 2013
I'm all for complex interpersonal family dramas. "August: Osage Country" for example is one of the best. But the current production from Bash Theatre and Radial Theater Project, "Beating Up Bachman" playing at West of Lenin is not that play no matter how much it tries to be. With its competing and often unresolved plot lines, disjointed dialog and a cast who at times feels like they just got the script, "Beating Up Bachman" felt like a play in its early stages of life, thrust upon an audience too soon.
BWW Reviews: THE MOUSETRAP at Village Still Keeps 'Em Guessing
January 19, 2013
To think that a murder mystery that's been around for 60 years such as The Mousetrap', currently playing at Village Theatre, could still be fresh. I mean, everyone knows who the killer is by now, right? Nope. I for one couldn't remember and from the gasps in the audience many others couldn't either. But then that's part of the enduring quality of this Agatha Christie classic, it still keeps you guessing. And the Village production is so full of fun, rich characters and, of course, red herrings that it amounts to a thoroughly enjoyable night out.
BWW Reviews: Mesmerizing HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH from Balagan
January 18, 2013
While on my way to catch Balagan's new production of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" at the Moore Theatre, I couldn't help but think back to the Nick Garrison production a few years back that was such a huge hit and amounted to a kind of theatrical religious experience for those that saw it including myself. And while I didn't get so much of a Hedwig stigmata from this production (possibly due to the fact I was already born again once so to speak and to be born again, again is just greedy) but I can say that this production is near flawless and completely showcases the true star power of its Hedwig, Jerick Hoffer.
BWW Reviews: Frightening Intensity in Seattle Rep's AMERICAN BUFFALO
January 17, 2013
As with any David Mamet play, "American Buffalo" currently on stage at the Seattle Rep has a few stock elements. Clever banter, high stakes and more F-Bombs than you can shake a stick at. Yes, if you're put off by harsh language then stop reading now and plan on seeing something else. But if you can handle the occasional (or quite frequent) colorful phrase then this production may be just up your alley with its stunning performances and edge of your seat intensity.
BWW Reviews: THE BOOK OF MORMON Brings Crass Hilarity to the Paramount
January 10, 2013
The juggernaut has arrived! Yes the winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, "The Book of Mormon", has come to the Paramount Theatre to sold out houses. But can this highly anticipated touring show live up to all the hype and deliver? Do the Elders in Africa put on fabulous tap numbers? Well, for those that haven't seen the show yet, the answer to that is a resounding, "YES!"
BWW Reviews: Stark Consequences in Seattle Shakes' Engaging A DOLL'S HOUSE
January 5, 2013
I have to say that I was already a fan of the storytelling prowess of local director Russ Banham especially since his recent production of "Superior Donuts". Which is why I was all the more optimistic when I heard he was taking on Seattle Shakespeare Company's new translation of Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House". And I'm happy to report, dear readers, that I was not in the slightest disappointed by Banham's crisp and engaging production. Once again he has assembled a stellar cast and crew and molded the story into a rock solid evening of theater.
BWW 2012 Seattle Critic's Choice Awards (Jay's Picks)
December 26, 2012
It's been a helluva year for theater in the Seattle area. From the triumphant return of the Intiman with their summer festival to the hugely popular run of "Spring Awakening" from Balagan Theatre Seattle audiences were treated with some amazing shows and performances this past year. And so, allow me to shine the spotlight on some of my favorite outstanding moments from the past year with my 2012 BWW Seattle Critic's Choice Awards.
BWW Reviews: WISEMEN Returns to ACT with Irreverent Holiday Fun
December 14, 2012
We've all been suspicious of how Mary really became pregnant with Jesus. I mean, Immaculate Conception? Come on! Well last year's sold out hit "Wisemen" is back to investigate just that. And while structurally it felt like it droned a bit, the sacrilegious hilarity is the perfect departure to the usual holiday theatrical fare.
BWW Reviews: Two Very Different Holiday Treats With BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT and SANTALAND at SPT
December 10, 2012
Not to let Christmas go by unscathed, Seattle Public Theater has cooked up two somewhat off kilter Christmas shows this year. Each containing something for theater goers of all ages, they may not be your typical holiday fare but they are a breath of fresh air from the norm and both left this jaded audience member thrilled to have a little something extra slipped into his eggnog.
BWW Reviews: Adorable Joy at 5th Avenue's ELF Abounds
December 7, 2012
I'll admit I was one of the first to roll their eyes in disdain when I heard they made a musical of the Will Ferrell movie "Elf", back in 2010. "Oh Good," I thought, "another overly sweet yet bland movie adaptation designed to get families in the theater and sell merchandise (in this case, elf hats)." And so even more eye rolling occurred when the 5th Avenue Theatre announced they would be putting up a production of it this year. And while the show may be most of those things I mentioned (especially the elf hats) what it isn't is bland. More importantly what the production at the 5th Avenue manages is a super engaging and absolutely adorable evening of elfish fun.
BWW Reviews: Seattle Rep's INSPECTING CAROL Delivers Some Laughs But Doesn’t Hold Together
November 29, 2012
It's always a risk when a professional company such as the Rep dusts off an old chestnut such as "Inspecting Carol". I mean, it's kind of become a go to Christmas show for hundreds of regional theaters and might be a little dated. But I can understand why since it was created at the Rep back in 1991 by then Artistic Director Daniel Sullivan and the Seattle Repertory Theatre Resident Company. And while the remount this year definitely had some laughs, overall it felt clunky and filled with holes and didn't deliver the constant barrage of gut busters I was expecting.
BWW Reviews: THE HABIT Brings Inspired Sketch Comedy to The Bathhouse
November 24, 2012
When I think of the truly great sketch comedy out there I immediately look to those Monty Python boys or The Carol Burnett Show. Those were true masters of taking ordinary situations and turning them on their head to make them absolutely hilarious. Well, I think we can add The Habit to that list. Five very funny guys who take on sketch comedy with an absurdist bend and deliver an hour of non-stop laughs.
No Good Deed from Wicked on 2003 Original Broadway Cast.