The Pajama Game is a musical comedy set in 1954 USA, at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, where there is a workers’ dispute over a wage rise. Love is in the air when Superintendent Sid Sorokin (Michael Xavier) falls in love with union rep Babe Williams (Joanna Riding).
I went to see this show not having seen the film or knowing the score, most of the audience seemed much older than me and one even commented “I’m glad they kept the original choreography” which is interesting to know as the show first opened in London in 1955!
The Pajama Game has since had a couple of revivals in the West End and Broadway. This production has transferred to the Shaftesbury Theatre after a very successful run at The Chichester Festival Theatre.
The Pajama Game has some amazing big dance numbers and in the 2nd Act lots of razzmatazz to go with them. It is a shame that the tap shoes are not mic’d up as one of the numbers looks very impressive but would be even better with the tap sound.
Michael Xavier and Joanna Riding make a very cute onstage couple. Michael’s voice is outstanding and really suits the songs. Other standout performances include, Eugene McCoy (as Prez and union president) who’s comic timing is spot on and Claire Machin (as Mabel) who kept me chuckling to myself throughout the performance.
I would relate the comedy to the style of a Carry On film with its touch of sauciness, but maybe a bit more subtle. There is a very funny scene with Vernon Hines (played by Peter Polycarpou), which is similar to the scene in the TV show Friends, with some pants being put on backwards. The comedy routines throughout the show are superbly directed by five-time Olivier winner Sir Richard Eyre.
The Pajama Game makes full use of the Shaftesbury Theatre stage, together with part of the auditorium in the Stalls, which helps to make the audience feel part of the action.
The musical is a cheerful, colourful, well cast and choreographed piece of theatre. If you love that era and music, fancy some traditional Broadway style musical theatre with a few laughs, get down to the Shaftesbury Theatre as The Pajama Game is only on until September.
Review by Bonnie Britain
The Pajama Game
Cast: Joanna Riding (Babe Williams), Michael Xavier (Sid Sorokin), Peter Polycarpou/Gary Wilmot (Vernon Hines), Alexis Owen Hobbs (Gladys), Claire Machin (Mabel), Colin Stinton (Hasler/Pop), Eugene McCoy (Prez), Siôn Lloyd (Max), Jennie Dale (Mae), Sharon Wattis (Poopsie), Keisha Amponsa Banson (Brenda), Lauren Varnham (Charlene), Jo Morris (Rita), Nolan Frederick (Charley), Richard Jones (Frank), Dan Burton (Earl) and James O’Connell (Joe).
“In 1950s America, love is in the air at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory as handsome new Superintendent Sid Sorokin (Michael Xavier) falls head-over-heels for firebrand Union rep Babe Williams (Joanna Riding),” according to press notes. “Sparks fly when the employees are refused a seven-and-a-half cents raise, leaving Sid and Babe deliciously at odds as the temperature rises. . . Will love, eventually, conquer all?”
The musical features choreography by Stephen Mear, design by Tim Hatley, lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Paul Groothuis, musical supervision and dance and vocal arrangements by Gareth Valentine, musical direction by Musical Director Michael England and casting by Pippa Ailion.
The Pajama Game features music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross and a book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell. The Chichester Festival Theatre production of The Pajama Game, Directed by Richard Eyre, and produced in the West End by Joseph Smith and John Brant, Old Vic Productions, Gavin Kalin and Stephen McGill.
Running Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Booking From: 1st May 2014
Booking Until: 13th September 2014
Tuesday 13th May 2014