More than sixty years after the original production of The Pajama Game hit Broadway, the show is still a regular on the am dram scene.
Bournville Musical Society does the classic musical justice in a charming production at the Crescent Theatre.
Quaint and old-fashioned – The Pajama Game is everything you’d expect of a 50s Broadway musical with a plot about as simple as they come.
Sid Sorokin (Steve Kendall), the new, no-nonsense superintendent at the Sleep-Tite pajama factory, falls for factory worker Babe Williams (Rhian Clements), who also happens to be the leader of the grievance committee.
The couple’s blossoming romance gets a little complicated when factory owner Mr Hasler (Jonathan Eastwood) won’t give the workers a raise and Sorokin is forced to side with him – much to the dislike of Babe.
Steve Kendall is charmingly self-assured as the cocky but ultimately good-hearted Sorokin and he and Rhian Clements, who plays Babe with real maturity, make a thoroughly convincing pair.
Elsewhere John Morrison stands out as the bumbling Vernon Hines – a man who keeps the factory workers on their toes and drives his girlfriend Gladys Hotchkiss, played thoughtfully by Natalie Buzzard, insane with his jealousy. Morrison’s characterisation is always particularly strong and this performance here is no exception.
Jonathan Eastwood is entertaining as the factory’s miserly boss Mr Hasler and Jill Hughes is a joy as his long-serving secretary Mabel. Elsewhere Rebecca Lowe’s characterisation as ditzy factory worker Poopsie is delightful too.
The society won the NODA award for best musical for an exceptional production of Jekyll and Hyde last year and the society admirably tackles an altogether different animal this time round.
But in truth the show feels rather dated - it’s all just a bit twee and lacks pace and energy in places – particularly in a mammoth first act. It’s not the society’s fault though and the cast and chorus handle every piece of singing and choreography that’s thrown at them very well - there’s just not a great deal to work with in terms of the story and, to an extent, the musical numbers.
However, highlights include the hilarious and well-choreographed I’ll Never be Jealous Again featuring Vernon and Mabel and the delightful duet Small Talk with Sorokin and Babe.
Director Anne-Louise McGregor should be proud of this charming production – as should musical director Chris Corcoran and his band for belting out the show’s plentiful score and Sadie Turner for her crisp choreography.
This is a sterling attempt to breathe life into a somewhat outdated show.
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