THE PAJAMA GAME
words and music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell based on the novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell.
Minerva Theatre Oaklands Park To 8 June 2013.
7.45pm 6, 9-11, 13, 14, 16-18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, May, 1, 3, 4,6, 8 June.
8pm 8, 15, 22, 29 May, 5 June.
3pm 8, 15, 22, 29 May, 5 June (May matinees sold out ).
8pm 7 May, 5 June.
Audio-described 24 May, 1 June 2.45pm.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 01243 781312.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 4 May.
New production about industrial action in a pajama factory is striking but not at all sleep-inducing.
Love across the industrial divide, between capital and labour, an ambitious manager and the union rep he loves yet sacks was strong stuff for 1950s Broadway. Or would have been in the hands of, say, Sondheim. This mid-fifties musical never quite seals the deal, Its doings have some flavour, but it’s not sustained, the two camps never pursue their arguments too far. Union man and boss are equally, if differently, compromised.
Similarly, several musical numbers start distinctively without sustaining their quality, while echoes of other shows aren’t to the advantage of the piece. ‘My Once a Year Day’ bounces in with nowhere melodically distinct to go, ‘Hey There, You with the Stars in Your Eyes’ leaves the impression at least one of composers Richard Adler and Jerry Ross learned the piano practising that Mozart Piano Sonata. Even ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’, musically the most distinct piece, has a setting that’s apt but not as vital to the story as the Cuba section of Guys and Dolls.
Chichester’s poster gives the game away, with its image of an arm-wielding striker who just happens to be youthful and attractive, not in the least ground-down by tough daily labour.
And if the women achieve their raise (we learn the boss has secreted it for himself) they’ll save the money to buy consumer durables. No question of a struggle to survive, sick children or looking for more control over their working lives.
Still, it wasn’t bad for McCarthy-era Broadway, and Richard Eyre’s superb revival does everything possible to give the music’s airy nothings a social habitation. Designer Tim Hatley creates a mass shop-floor, alternating it with the office of Hadley Fraser’s company man in love and the humble apartment union official Babe shares with her proletarian dad.
And no-one’s forgotten it’s a musical. With inventive choreography for the strikers, especially Alexis Owen-Hobbs’ high-kicking secretary and Fraser as the boss’s man on the ground.
No cradle would rock because of this musical, but it shows Broadway at least looking at the world around, while Joanna Riding, Peter Polycarpou and othersl commit to the reality of Eyre’s approach.
Babe Williams: Joanna Riding.
Sid Sorokin: Hadley Fraser.
Vernon Hines: Peter Polycarpou.
Gladys: Alexis Owen-Hobbs.
Mabel: Claire Machin.
Hasler/Pop: Colin Stinton.
Prez: Eugene McCoy.
Max: John Stacey.
Mae: Jenna Boyd.
Poopsie: Landi Oshinowo.
Brenda: Sophia Nomvete.
Charlene: Lauren Varnham.
Martha: Amy Griffiths.
Rita: Jo Morris.
Charley: Carl Sanderson.
Frank: Richard Jones.
Earl: Dan Burton.
Joe: Ricardo Coke-Thomas.
Director: Richard Eyre.
Designer: Tim Hatley.
Lighting: Howard Harrison.
Sound: Paul Groothuis.
Orchestrator: Chris Egan.
Dance arranger/Musical Supervisor/Musical Director: Gareth Valentine.
Voice coach: Jill McCullough.
Fight director: Paul Benzing.
Assistant director: Fiona Dunn.
Assistant choreographer/Dance captain: Jo Morris.
Assistant Musical director: Alex Parker.