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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: Clever Confusion in DOGG'S HAMLET AND CAHOOT'S MACBETH from Sound Theatre Company
June 18, 2013
I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again, you practically have to take a masters class in whatever Tom Stoppard is writing about in order to fully get his plays. Whether is be Shakespeare, Czech History or Mathematics it helps to have some kind of advance knowledge before you sit down. Having said that, while "Dogg's Hamlet and Cahoot's Macbeth" definitely had me saying "Huh?" a few times, what it amounts to is a clever, funny and engaging look at language and power.
BWW Reviews: STAGEright's ALL IN THE TIMING Filled with Quirky Laughs
June 16, 2013
The great thing about a show with a series of short plays is that if the current short play just isn't working for you, wait ten minutes and you'll be on to the next one. The greater thing about David Ives' "All in the Timing" is that most of his short plays included are gems. And the greaterer thing about STAGEright's current production of "All in the Timing" is that, for the most part (there was really only one that left me saying "Huh?"), the cast and directors have woven together such a tight and well paced show that there's bound to be something for everyone and plenty of laughs for all.
Summer Stages: BWW's Top Summer Theater Picks - Seattle!
June 14, 2013
It's that time of year again. Time to bust out those shorts and bathing suits and catch the few rays of sunshine we get here in Seattle. But it's also time to catch what Seattle has to offer theatrically this summer. From Shakespeare to big hair to singing nuns and pirates, there's something for everyone. And here are a few top bets for the Seattle Summer.
BWW Reviews: Clever and Funny Dialog in Book-It's FINANCIAL LIVES OF THE POETS
June 13, 2013
Displaying an all too familiar circumstance Book-It Repertory Theatre is currently presenting their production of Jess Walter's book, 'The Financial Lives of the Poets', in which our hero must survive the pressures of our crumbling economy any way he can. And while the base story may not be the freshest, what it does have going for it is crisp, engaging and very funny dialog infused in a very clever story structure with a relatable protagonist at its core which amounts for a thoroughly enjoyable show.
Photo Flash: Alice Ripley, Jinkx Monsoon & More Perform and Final Show Announced at Balagan Season Preview Party
June 12, 2013
Balagan Theatre made three major announcements during a packed Season Preview Party at the Moore Theatre on Monday, June 10: 'Nirvanov' as the fifth show in the 2013-2014 mainstage season, a star-studded trio of leading ladies in Carrie: The Musical, and a newly created New Works Program, whose Summer Series debuts July 6.
BWW Reviews: Vicious Beauty in ACT's OTHER DESERT CITIES
June 7, 2013
It's a fine line between a biting familial dramedy and diving head first into the realm of back biting reality TV. One lends itself to insightful views on the nature of parent/child dynamics and the other has an overweight little girl spewing forth "Oh no she di'in't" like a circus act to make the viewers feel better and superior about themselves. Luckily Jon Robin Baitz searing play "Other Desert Cities", currently playing at ACT, falls into the category of the former. Yes, the family can get pretty vicious at times but you can also see the heart and compassion through the barbs bringing out the power of the piece.
BWW Reviews: Classic Vegas Thrills at Teatro ZinZanni's LUCKY IN LOVE
May 31, 2013
From the sumptuous meal to the hilarious antics to the high flying thrills, you always know you're going to have a stellar time at a Teatro ZinZanni show and their current show "Lucky in Love" is no exception. The story and theme may have been a bit unfocused at times (and that could have just been opening night settling in) but as anyone who's been to a ZinZanni show knows, even an unfocused Teatro ZinZanni show is better than many things out there.
BWW Reviews: FELA at the Paramount – High Energy Message But Not Enough Story
May 29, 2013
Musical Theater is a strange animal. It's trying to tell an engaging and evocative story through music. And when you frame that storytelling in the guise of a concert it gets even more difficult as the lyrics of the songs really need to drive that story but it can work ('Passing Strange', 'Hedwig' and 'Altar Boyz' to name a few). Unfortunately 'Fela', currently playing at the Paramount Theatre, does not work in that respect. It's more concert with a little story peppered in and while the cast is certainly talented and the energy is there, much of it felt self indulgent and just too long.
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.
Les Poissons (Demo) from The Music Behind The Magic on Disc I - The Little Mermaid.