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The Pajama Game: A pajama party that hits all the right notes

| Theatre | 21/07/2014

The Pajama Game. Shaftesbury Theatre.
The Pajama Game. Shaftesbury Theatre.

After its run at the Chichester Festival The Pajama Game has deservedly, and rightly taken up its residence in the heart of the West End, at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Richard Eyre’s delightful production on the surface appears to be about labour disputes and the growing influence of capital, but once you delve into Eyre’s production, through the demonstration of dance and song, there are numerous romantic entanglements, that ensure The Pajama Game is a joyful production to behold. At the heart of The Pajama Game is a blend of musical prowess, energetic dancing, and joyful sounds that together whip up a musical storm at the Shaftesbury.

The Pajama Game is a blissful production which revolves around the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory. The workers are agitating for a seven-and-a-half cent pay rise; to counter the growing dissent their deceitful scrooge-like boss employs a new superintendent, Sid Sororkin, to whip the workers into line. However, Sid promptly finds himself distracted, and lovingly fixated by the beautiful Babe Williams, the union representative in charge of the grievance committee. Then throw in a slightly deranged time-and-motion man, who is prone to spontaneous knife-throwing fits, who falls in love with the boss’s blonde secretary, Gladys, and we have all the ingredients for a hit musical comedy.

At the heart of this production is the old-age story of love at first sight, with added complications. In this instance, Babe, our fearless heroine, puts the interests of the union before her loving affections for Sid. Naturally, it gets increasingly complicated as the production progresses, until left on a knife edge at the end of Act One; where Sid is forced to fire the woman who stole his heart, after an incident of industrial sabotage. Act Two begins with open rebellion within the ranks of the union as they begin to take evasive action, leading the production to a fitting finale.

It’s not often you are able to write with great confidence that a collaboration between director (Richard Eyre), choreographer (Stephen Mear), and designer (Tim Hatley), works in perfect harmony. Together the triumvirate at the heart of the impressive creative team have produced a feel good summer musical, which leaves the audience wanting to do nothing more than to sing and dance the night away. The lighting (Howard Harrison), the orchestra (Chris Egan), and the sound (Paul Groothuis) are spot on in a production that hits all the right notes.

The Pajama Game cast. Photo by Tristram Kenton.

The Pajama Game cast. Photo by Tristram Kenton.

In a musical where passion collides with politics the cast are overwhelmingly shinning bright. Michael Xavier as Sid provides a stern and yet loveable portrayal of our witty superintendent. Xavier’s charm works effortlessly and naturally with the gritty determination, and tough heroine of the show Joanna Riding as Babe. The chemistry between Xavier and Riding is one that leaves the audience in awe of their performance. There were also great comical performances from the deranged, and yet completely delightful Gary Wilmot as the time-and-motion man Vernon Hines; added to this Jennie Dale as Mae provided a number of cracking one-liners that left the audience in stiches. At one moment when questioned on her ‘guzzling’ of all the beers Mae simply replies, ‘I’m just being sociable’, as if her beer-guzzling was perfectly acceptable. The cast of The Pajama Game is an utter delight; they did not put a foot wrong- it’s simple there is no weak link to be found anywhere.

The Pajama Game is a musical delight, with a cracking cast, superb direction, and a dazzling choreography. This is marvellous, bright and colourful musical filled with the spirit of summer. This is a pajama party that hits all the right notes.

Written by Sandip Kana | @sandipkana

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