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: 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.
BWW Reviews: Technical Magic Shines in Seattle Children’s Theatre’s THE WIZARD OF OZ
November 24, 2012
It's tough taking on an icon, especially an iconic movie and trying to translate that onto stage. But that's exactly what Seattle Children's Theatre is attempting with their current stage production of the iconic 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" based on L. Frank Baum's 1900 book. And while the technical artistry of the show is top notch and completely conveyed the magic of the film, a few of the performances left me wanting.
BWW Reviews: Scandalously Polite Hilarity at Theater Schmeater in FALLEN ANGELS
November 18, 2012
Manners and tawdry secrets collide at Theater Schmeater with their current production of Noel Coward's "Fallen Angels". And Coward's signature send-up of the upper crust combined with some stunning characterizations and timing from the cast add up to one delightfully funny and slightly naughty evening.
BWW Reviews: Naughty Puppet Goodness at Balagan's AVENUE Q
November 18, 2012
There's a certain amount of pressure when a theater company becomes the first in the area to produce a big name show locally. Yes, it's a coup to be the first to get the rights (and Balagan seems to be cornering the market on that this season) but they also need to do the show justice or else, why bother? This is why what Balagan is pulling off with their current production of "Avenue Q" is all the more spectacular. Not only have they put up one of the new hot shows but they've done it in a way that rivals any tour of the show and created an outstandingly fun time that will leave you grinning all the way home.
BWW Reviews: Village Brings the Charm and Heart with FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
November 9, 2012
When your first introduction to a show is a bad one it can color your perception of the show for years to come if not forever. Such was the case of my experience with "Fiddler on the Roof" which I have always looked upon as just being long. Luckily Village Theatre currently has a production that is so filled with warmth, joy and heart that even a long time cynic toward the show as myself can come away with a great evening and even a little tear in his eye.
BWW Reviews: Riveting Lovers in Seattle Shakespeare Company's ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
November 3, 2012
A Shakespearean tale of one of the most famous couples in all of history performed by some of the best actors in town and directed by one of Seattle's best directors. You'd think it'd be a slam dunk success wouldn't you? Well, you'd be right. And even with a few moments that missed the mark for me and a show that could still use a little tightening, this almost three and a half hour production of "Antony and Cleopatra" from Seattle Shakespeare Company grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go.
BWW Reviews: Seattle Rep's THE GLASS MENAGERIE Shines with Tragic Honesty
November 1, 2012
The problem I've always faced in the past with productions of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" is no matter how engaging the story is I just don't find myself invested in the characters. The show is a memory play and with that most productions fall into the trap of over accentuating the obvious flaws and guilt of the characters within Tom's memory. But what director Braden Abraham and the cast of the current production at the Rep have done is to keep those flaws but still present real and honest characters which allow the audience to care about their mistakes and well being. And that's what makes this production a complete success.
BWW Reviews: THE ADDAMS FAMILY Needs More Trick But Still A Treat
October 26, 2012
It's Halloween time and so the 5th Avenue Theatre has chosen to fill up our candy bags with a spooky little treat with "The Addams Family". And while this may not be the equivalent of the house on the block that's giving out the full size chocolate bars, it's far from the house that's handing out toothbrushes and dental floss. It's definitely the fun size candies and you can take a few of them.
BWW Reviews: Self Indulgent THE SKRIKER at Erickson Lacks Coherence
October 25, 2012
Do you know what a paraplegic, a wolf, a fairy, two pregnant teens and a dancing hooker have in common? Neither do I! But that's what the current show "The Skriker" at the Erickson Theatre offered up in director Janice Findley's imagining of Caryl Churchill's creepy look at a world filled with magical spirits seducing young unwed mothers. And after seeing the show I can honestly say I STILL have no idea what they have in common.
BWW Reviews: Annex's A MOUSE WHO KNOWS ME Should Go Back To the Lab
October 23, 2012
In "The Music Man" Professor Hill teaches the school board how to sing by explaining to them that singing is just sustained talking. Unfortunately the creators of Annex Theatre's current production "A Mouse Who Knows Me" need to be explained that the same does not go for songwriting as many of the numbers in their world premiere musical about laboratory mice seemed to simply be sung dialog. This ultimately led to a cute show that droned on.
BWW Reviews: RAMAYANA at ACT – A Stirring Fable You MUST Experience
October 19, 2012
On the chance that you only read the first few sentences of my review of "Ramayana", currently playing at ACT, let me just say this right at the start. Go see this show! Hire the babysitter, arrive early (to catch the awesome Indian bazaar in the lobby), and prepare yourself for one of the most glorious and magical evenings I've had in the theater for quite awhile as ACT Theatre presents an exquisite and epic tale that mesmerizes from beginning to end.
BWW Reviews: WICKED at the Paramount Still Wicked
October 12, 2012
Is it possible I've seen "Wicked", currently playing at the Paramount Theatre, too many times? It's not like I'm even into the double digits here having only seen it three times. But even with those three, has it lost its luster or have I become jaded. The dragon still roars, the monkeys still cavort and the green girl still flies into the rafters. So why was I not as wowed by this production as others? I'm going to have to say (at least in Act One) the energy just wasn't there. They picked it up in Act Two but in Act One there seemed to be a lot of motion going through.
BWW Reviews: Seattle Rep's PULLMAN PORTER BLUES – A Rocky Start for an Incredible Play
October 4, 2012
I understand that opening night isn't always the glorious shining gem that it ought to be. Sometimes, no matter how good a show it may be, it's just not quite there yet. Such was the case with the Seattle Rep's opening night of Cheryl L. West's new play with music "Pullman Porter Blues". With a combination of opening night nerves, technical gaffs and a muffled sound system, it just wasn't the show I was so eagerly awaiting since I saw the workshop of the piece some years back. But even through its shortcomings the show still managed to shine through with history and heart and had some killer moments.
BWW Reviews: Giddy Slapstick in SCT's THE CAT IN THE HAT
October 1, 2012
If for some reason you weren't indoctrinated with "The Cat in the Hat" or any other Dr. Seuss as a child then you have my sympathies. And I mean the original stories and cartoons and not the recent film knock-offs. But for the other 99% of us, we gleefully remember the gripping tales of The Cat, The Lorax, The Grinch and Horton (to name just a few) and have those stories and images burned into our brains. And now Seattle Children's Theatre has come along with their production of this tale of two bored children and a crazy cat with "The Cat in the Hat" and while it may be lacking a bit of spark for this jaded adult, the stunning visuals are all there and the kids ate up the slapsticky staging of it all.
BWW Reviews: Seattle Public Theater's SUPERIOR DONUTS Is Just That ... Superior
September 30, 2012
Every once in awhile a production comes along that completely surprises you. A production that manages to transcend the ordinary and create something special. A production that concocts the perfect alchemist recipe of script, cast and crew to create theatrical gold. Seattle Public Theater's current production of Tracy Letts' "Superior Donuts" is just such a production.
BWW Reviews: Gripping Performances in the Confusing DISCO PIGS at Sound Theatre Company
September 25, 2012
First off let me say that the language in this is difficult at best to get through. And no, I don't mean coarse language (although there's plenty of that too) but the Irish accents and regional terms. Fortunately Sound Theatre Company's current production of "Disco Pigs" is being performed by two gifted actors who manage to wade through the accents and come out the other side with an engaging tale.
BWW Reviews: MEMPHIS at 5th Avenue is Back and, in Some Ways, Better
September 22, 2012
Back in 2008 Seattle audiences were treated to the pre-Broadway tryout of what would become the 2010 Tony award winner for best musical, "Memphis" by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan. And as amazing as the show was back then, the current production at the 5th Avenue Theatre shows how much better it got since it left us and how good American musical theater can be.
BWW Reviews: Fun But Under Prepared BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON From ArtsWest
September 20, 2012
There were just a few too many things stacked up against ArtsWest's production of "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" for me to completely get into it. With issues ranging from the technical to the presentation, I found it difficult to become immersed in this highly stylized tale. Yes, there were many fun and wonderful moments on opening night but they kept being overshadowed by a production that felt it could used a little more ripening.
BWW Reviews: ACT's UNCLE HO TO UNCLE SAM - One-Note & Filled With Anger
September 19, 2012
The problem with so many one-man, autobiographical shows is that they are so often just someone exorcising their own demons. And that's fine when it has someplace to go. But as is the case with ACT's World Premiere of Trieu Tran and Robert Egan's "Uncle Ho To Uncle Sam" it just feels like a big rant for 90 minutes culminating in nothing.
BWW Reviews: Omigod You Guys, SMT's LEGALLY BLONDE is Totally Great!
September 17, 2012
The movie should not have been very good but Reese Witherspoon sold it. The musical is very good and the original Elle Woods, Laura Bell Bundy took an insanely difficult part and nailed it. This is why I was tentative when I heard Seattle Musical Theatre was starting off their season with "Legally Blonde" as you need a hell of a cast including a major triple threat in the lead, a killer band and a very gifted director to keep it all going. Well, check, check and check as SMT's "Legally Blonde" manages all three and provides one fun, frothy and fabulous show.
BWW Reviews: IS HE DEAD? From Theater Schmeater is Funny But Misses Opportunities
September 16, 2012
Mark Twain's play "Is He Dead?", adapted by David Ives, is an uproarious hysterical romp. Or it can be. Unfortunately the current production from Theater Schmeater, while still funny, lacks a cohesiveness that could take it to the realm of "seriously funny".
BWW Reviews: Village Theatre's BIG RIVER Has Some Big Talent But Also An Identity Crisis
September 14, 2012
At the top of the show for Village Theatre's production of "Big River, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" we are greeted with a quote from Mark Twain and the original book. "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot." And while clever, showing that quote at the top of the show doesn't excuse the fact that there is little through line or story arc to this production. There's a ton of talent performing throughout the evening but at times they felt like they were in different shows.
BWW Reviews: While Sometimes Heavy Handed, Strawberry Theatre Workshop's THIS LAND – WOODY GUTHRIE Has Simple Beauty
September 10, 2012
OK, at times it was a little long winded; too many songs and a little over reaching in getting its message across. But beyond that Strawberry Theatre Workshop's production of "This Land - Woody Guthrie" manages to transcend the music and the message and land itself into a realm of charming and simple grace.
BWW Reviews: Upstart Crow's TITUS ANDRONICUS is Brutally Good
September 7, 2012
The impetus to cast a largely male Shakespearean show such as "Titus Andronicus" (or any show for that matter) with an all female cast can come in a number of guises. A juxtaposition of male cruelty coming from the mouths of women or the opportunity for the ladies to take on these meaty roles normally slated for men, to name just a few. Well, the former, if that was an intent in Upstart Crow's production, was kind of lost on me as about 10 minutes into the show the novelty of women playing the parts wore off and these talented actresses disappeared into their male roles. This fact only strengthens the latter reasoning as the women brought the pain and betrayal just as well (if not better) than any men.
BWW Reviews: Haunting Morality Tale from The Schoolyard's THE LAST LEPER OF CHARENTON
August 25, 2012
Take away what you want from The Schoolyard's latest endeavor, "The Last Leaper of Charenton"; a transitional tale of the struggle between science and religion or a morality play about who judges beauty and sanity with resonance of the issues of today. Either way what you're in for is a promising and intriguing new work from local playwright Todd van der Ark.
BWW Reviews: Sound Theatre Company's THE ILLUSION Brings Truth to Magic
August 17, 2012
I don't think many would disagree when I say Tony Kushner is one of theater's most incredible playwrights with his amazing gift for language. And his adaptation of Pierre Corneille's 17th century tale "The Illusion" is no different with its poetic dialogue and gloriously surreal arc from melodramatic to stark truth. And Sound Theatre Company's production of this magical piece, for the most part, understands and delivers the beauty of that arc.
BWW Spotlight: Village Originals' 2012 Festival of New Musicals
August 16, 2012
Village Theatre was back this last weekend with their 12th Annual Village Originals Festival of New Musicals. A weekend packed with five new musicals presented as script in hand, staged reading workshops; the festival aids in the fostering and growth of these exciting new works. Some previous works have even gone on to Broadway success as "Next to Normal" (previous title "Feeling Electric") and "Million Dollar Quartet" had their start through the Village Originals Festival of New Musicals and went on to win multiple Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize ("Next to Normal"). And, as they did with last year's "Cloaked" Village also took a previous festival entry and gave it a larger production as "Lizzie Borden" had a three performance off book workshop of it's own at the First Stage Theatre down the street from their main stage Francis J. Gaudette Theatre.
BWW Reviews: Charming Chemistry in ReAct's DRIVING MISS DAISY
August 5, 2012
There's a reason that Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize winning heartbreaker "Driving Miss Daisy" isn't produced much around here: casting. It's not always so easy, especially for a small theater company, to find three strong, age and race appropriate actors to take on this beautiful piece and do it justice. And there is where ReAct Theatre director David Hsieh lucked out with their current production as their three amazing performers handled the subject matter and the sizable passage of time in the show with grace and heart and also managed some stunning chemistry among each other.
BWW Reviews: '90s Laughs in CALLING NANCY DREW from STAGEright Could Be Tighter
August 4, 2012
Take a classic girl detective, throw in more 90's references than you can shake a Beanie Baby at and before you can say, "Whazuuuuup?!" you've got the latest show from STAGEright, "Calling Nancy Drew". And while the show could totally use some tightening, it's a fun, frothy and radical good time.
BWW Reviews: 99 LAYOFFS at ACT Gets Mired in its Own Joke
August 3, 2012
You know that friend of yours whose entire life is one big ball of negativity. We all have them (or maybe you are them). That person who constantly goes on about his tale of woe yet can never seem to learn anything from past mistakes. But you let him go on as you like him for some reason. That's what the new play "99 Layoffs" by Vincent Delaney at ACT felt like to me, a couple of likable yet pathetic characters who never grow and ultimately go nowhere.
BWW Reviews: Pinter’s THE DUMB WAITER and CELEBRATION Bring Intrigue and Honest Hilarity to ACT
July 28, 2012
No tricks, no flash, no exploding video walls or gaudy production numbers. Just an ensemble of some of Seattle's most gifted actors brilliantly savoring the meaty dialogue of Harold Pinter. That's how ACT started off their Pinter Festival last night with their productions of "The Dumb Waiter" and "Celebration". Just outstanding storytelling and plain great theater.
BWW Reviews: 5th Avenue Theatre’s RENT Loses Its Edge
July 27, 2012
Is it possible that "Rent", Jonathan Larson's groundbreaking hit from 1996 has now become so dated that it no longer has the edge it once had? Or is it that the current production from the 5th Avenue Theatre is so desperately trying to be edgy that it shows its weakness? That is the question before us. But whatever you feel about the show itself, the current production at the 5th takes so many missteps that it's hard to see the show as anything but an adorable relic.
BWW Reviews: ROMEO AND JULIET at Intiman Lacks Love From Lovers
July 26, 2012
One of the biggest pitfalls of casting "Romeo and Juliet" is that you need to find younger actors (the lovers are supposed to be 14 years old) who can handle these characters and this play without devolving them into petulant teens. And this was the major issue I had with the current production at the Intiman as neither of the two eponymous lovers seemed to connect with each other or the flowery speeches and therefore didn't connect with the audience. Luckily many of the other members of the cast turned in some stellar performances making the more interesting play, "Romeo and Juliet's Family and Friends".
BWW Reviews: YELLOW FACE at Center House Theatre Suffers Too Much Message
July 21, 2012
If a play or the message of a play is important or affecting, as is the case with David Henry Hwang's "Yellow Face", currently playing at the Center House Theatre from React Theatre and Pork Filled Players, there is always the danger of the actors in the play to over intensify the work rather than letting it stand on its own. And while the current production at the Center House Theatre definitely has some wonderful moments and great laughs along for the ride, it unfortunately suffers from this problem as the message feels forced and long winded rather than meaningful.
BWW Reviews: HEDDA GABLER at Intiman Lacks Depth
July 19, 2012
Take a few particularly vile individuals, throw them into a house with some innocuous and naive others and have them all spurred on by a bored manipulative new bride and what do you have? No, this is not the latest reality series on FOX but it had about the same impact and appeal as one. No, it's Henrik Ibson's "Hedda Gabler" currently playing at Intiman as part of their Summer Theatre Festival. And while there were some interesting moments on the whole it amounted to a one-note melange of duplicity that had about as much intrigue as an episode of "Jersey Shore".
BWW Reviews: Over-the-Top MIRACLE! at Intiman
July 15, 2012
Crass, over the top and offensive. Filled with bad taste, outrageous costumes and more dick jokes than you can shake well a dick at. If anyone asked me to describe Intiman's current production, I'd have to go with that. But did I like it? Despite a few missteps and an Act One that needs some tightening, I laughed my ass off. But then, I occasionally like crass, over the top and offensive in my theater.
BWW Reviews: ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST from Strawberry Theatre Workshop
July 13, 2012
Dario Fo's 1970 play, "Accidental Death of an Anarchist" with it's anti-establishment rhetoric certainly has connections to items in the news today what with the occupy movement and people's disillusionment with the government. But the problem that the current production of the play from Strawberry Theatre Workshop has is that they don't trust the audience to make those connections and instead feel the need to jam them into the script and beat us over the head with them. And while the show is funny and has some amazing performances it also at times comes across as self indulgent and lacking commitment.
BWW Reviews: A DIRTY STORY at Intiman
July 12, 2012
What starts off as a seeming battle of wills and words between two writers soon devolves and reveals itself to be more of a geo-political statement in John Patrick Shanley's "A Dirty Story" which opens the Intiman's Summer Theatre Festival. At times a bit clunky and forced the show ultimately amounts to a crazy ride with some outstanding performances that will give you plenty to discuss afterward.
BWW Reviews: JESUS HOPPED THE A TRAIN from Azeotrope
June 30, 2012
What makes a "good" person? When is a horrific crime such as murder justified? Where does redemption come from and for whom? These questions and more are posed in the riveting second offering from fledgling theater company Azeotrope with their production of "Jesus Hopped the A Train" currently running at ACT. A heavy play to be sure but deftly delivered from a company that is quickly becoming one to watch.