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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 24, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 08
Winning the Pajama Game
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Winning the Pajama Game

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

THE PAJAMA GAME
5TH AVENUE THEATRE
Through March 5


It has been said that Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre does nothing so well as presenting musicals from the 'Golden Age' of Broadway. This statement continues to ring true with their new production of The Pajama Game. The musical is an enjoyable production, sweetened with familiar music, presented well and done with a stellar cast.

The story takes place in the Sleep-Time Pajama Factory where tension is high due to the workers wanting a 7-½ cent raise. The new superintendent (Sid Sorokin) has a run in with Katherine 'Babe' Williams as head of the grievance committee, and sparks fly between them. As the tension between them mounts, so does the tension in the workplace. The workers are getting ready to strike if they do not get their raise, and Sid and Babe find themselves on opposite sides of the Union-Workplace battle to come.

The musical is done very well with good scenery and a stellar cast of 5th Avenue favorites. The Ensemble is very good, and no one tries to draw attention from the main storyline. The supporting cast does an excellent job. Gladys Hotchkiss (Sarah Rose Davis) is the sharp-witted secretary who works for the boss and enjoys her flirtations. Ms. Davis possesses an endearing quality and plays less of a caricature and more of the character. Vernon Hines (Greg McCormick Allen) is the timekeeper of the factory. Mr. Fitzpatrick is always a joy to watch with his tap dancing skills and comical timing. The scene between Vernon and Mabel (Shaunyce Omar), the unofficial overseer of the boss's office, are done well and the audience can tell they are having fun. Their song 'I'll Never Be Jealous Again' is a wonderful experience of how two actors 'play well together.' Poopsie (Katherine Strohmaier) is one of the factory girls and adds a certain charm to the production. Her work in the breakout hit 'Steam Heat' shows her dancing ability that completely compliments her well-controlled, almost cartoonish, voice.

The leads of the show definitely show chemistry between them. Josh Davis as the new superintendent Sid Sorokin has a fantastic 'meaty baritone' voice that seems perfectly suited for handling these classic songs. When the song 'Hey There' is sung it is a pure treat for the audience to listen Mr. Davis singing a duet with himself. When he unleashes for the energetic combination of 'There Once Was a Man' the sparks explode. The romantic interest is 'Babe' played by the incredible Billie Wildrick. I always look forward with anticipation to anything Ms. Wildrick does on stage, and I have yet to be disappointed. Is there anything this blond bombshell cannot do when associated with musical theatre? Her stage presence is strong and it is hard to divert eyes from her work. She has firm control of her voice and brings it to the fullest abilities with the songs she is given. Her interactions with her co-stars are seamless, and the kinetic energy between her and Mr. Davis crackles.

The show is family friendly with some sexual overtones, but nothing blatant. While 'Non P.C.' issues such as philandering and attempted molestation of women in the woods are minor appearances in the show, it harkens back to a time when people fell in love at first meeting, making love is the equivalent to a song over coffee, and office shenanigans are just that, harmless fun. The dancing is well-choreographed by Bob Richard. A good portion of the songs (written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross) should be quite familiar even if the original source is not instantly recalled. 'Hey There' was a big hit with Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis Jr and Harry Connick, Jr (who also starred in the latest Broadway revival in 2006). Of course, the show's main break out number (albeit curiously placed in the musical) 'Steam Heat' became a Broadway classic, mainly due to the extraordinary original choreography by the legendary Bob Fosse.

The Pajama Game is a winner. It's a mixture of what musical theatre should be: good acting, classic songs, fun dancing, and a good storyline with a touch of love and/or schmaltz thrown in for good measure.



The Pajama Game opened on Broadway May 13, 1954 and ran for over 1000 performances. Based on the novel 7 ½ cents by Richard Bissell (who also wrote the script to the show) the music and lyrics were written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross*; the same team that would present Broadway with Damn Yankees the following year. (*NOTE: The Pajama Game's songs 'There Once Was a Man' and 'A New Town is a Blue Town' were written by the uncredited Frank Loesser.) The musical was originally nominated for three 1955 Tony Awards, winning all of them: Best Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Carol Haney) and Best Choreography for Bob Fosse.

The original production included Carol Haney, John Raitt and a relatively unknown actress named Shirley MacLaine. Ms. MacLaine filled in for the lead role when Ms. Haney broke an ankle and was signed to Paramount Pictures after Hal Wallis saw her perform.

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New Century Theatre Company presents Tanya Barfield's Bright Half Life - produced in collaboration with The Hansberry Project
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'When We Rise' -

An interview with Dustin Lance Black

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Winning the Pajama Game
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Seattle Rep presents Well - a kooky meta-theatrical play
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'Three Americans' - An excellent snapshot of modern life
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Stay outta the rain with March theater openings
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Academy Awards have yet to crown an LGBT-themed film as Best Picture
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Step Afrika! presents brilliant reflection on Jacob Lawrence's 'The Migration Series'
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Letters
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Belle and Sebastian, Chris Brown and J Cole coming to Seattle
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2017 Academy Awards predictions
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CENTRALIA FOX THEATRE ANNOUNCES THE 2017 FILM SERIES AND SPECIAL EVENTS
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