2011 – The Pajama Game
Book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell
Music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
Lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
Based on 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell
Two Acts, Rated PG
Original Broadway version (1954)
The dangers of a workplace romance are explored to hysterical effect in this romantic comedy from the creators of “Damn Yankees.” Conditions at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory are anything but peaceful, as sparks fly between new superintendent Sid Sorokin and Babe Williams, leader of the union grievance committee. Their stormy relationship comes to a head when the workers strike for a 7½-cent pay increase, setting off not only a conflict between management and labor, but a battle of the sexes as well.
Producer – John Wetherall
Musical Director – Ian Stephenson
Choreographer – Lisa Metcalfe
NO danger of anyone nodding off watching this musical about life in a pajama factory, cleverly staged by the West Bromwich Operatic Society Youtheatre. Nearly 60 members of the company, aged between 10 and 19, have it all sewn up with some very impressive singing and dancing during the battle for a pay rise at the Sleep Tite works in 1950s America. It helps that they have two strong leads in Roberto Petrucco, playing Sid Sorokin, the tough factory superintendent, and Lucy Fellows, the grievance committee leader, Babe Williams, who falls for her boss during the dispute. They are impressive, particularly in the duet There Once Was a Man. Roberto also shines with the hit song Hey There, while Lucy sparkles in another lively number, I’m Not At All In Love. Bright comedy, too, from Frazer Shine, the factory foreman, Hines. He has a big moment while removing his trousers to model a pair of pajama pants…the audience are still giggling well after he’s left the stage. There are also important contributions from Lauren Key (Gladys), Maison Kelley (Prez) and Jack Webb, company boss Hasler, and Lisa Metcalfe’s sharp choreography is seen in Steam Heat and Hernando’s Hideaway.
Directed by John Wetherall with Ian Stephenson’s musical direction, the show runs to Saturday night (Nov 12)
- Sid Sorokin, (Roberto Petrucco) the handsome new factory superintendent who falls in love with Babe, despite their being on opposite sides of the labor dispute central to the plot.
- Catherine “Babe” Williams, (Lucy Follows) the leader of the Union Grievance Committee, who in turn falls in love with Sid.
- Myron “Old Man” Hasler, (Jack Webb) the strict head of the pajama factory who keeps a secret.
- Gladys Hotchkiss, (Lauren Key) Hasler’s attractive, quick-witted secretary, who dates Hines and is chased by Prez.
- Vernon Hines, (Frazer Shine) the factory timekeeper, who thinks Gladys flirts too much and, as a result is always jealous.
- Prez, (Maison Kelly) the head of the union and a skirt chaser, despite being a married man.
- Mabel, (Jessica Bailes) the mother hen of the factory and Sid’s secretary.
- Mae, (Kathryn Day) a loud-mouthed member of the Grievance Committee, who accepts Prez’s advances, much to his surprise.
- Pop, Babe’s kind and agreeable father.
- Max, (Ross Hadley) A salesman.
- Charley, (Oliver Jevons) a worker in the factory and the handyman.
- Joe, (Tom Whitehouse) a factory worker and Prez’s right-hand man.
- Brenda, (Lydia Orme) A member of the Grievance Committee.
- Virginia, (Connie Ross) a factory girl and union activist.
- Poopsie, (Poppy Thompson) a factory girl and union activist.
- Gus, an unhappy factory helper who Sid shoves.
A strike is imminent at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, where the workers churn out pajamas at a backbreaking pace (“Racing with the Clock”). In the middle of this, a new superintendent, Sid Sorokin, has come from out of town to work in the factory (“A New Town Is a Blue Town”). The union, led by Prez, is seeking a wage raise of seven and a half cents an hour. Sid and Babe are in opposite camps, yet romantic interest is sparked at their first encounter. Despite cajoling from her fellow garment workers, Babe appears to reject Sid (“I’m Not At All in Love”). Meanwhile, Hines, the popular efficiency expert, is in love with Gladys, the company president’s secretary, but is pushing her away with his jealous behavior. After witnessing a fight between the couple, Sid’s secretary, Mabel, tries to help Hines break from his jealous ways (“I’ll Never Be Jealous Again”). Meanwhile, Sid, rejected again by Babe, is forced to confide his feelings to a dictaphone (“Hey There”).
During the annual company picnic, kicked off with the official Sleep-Tite Company Anthem, Prez chases after Gladys, who rejects his advances (“Her Is”), a drunken Hines demonstrates his knife throwing act (these knives are thrown at Babe) , and Babe warms up to Sid (“Once a Year Day”). As the picnic-goers head home, Prez turns his attentions to Mae, who responds in the positive far more quickly and aggressively than he’d expected (“Her Is (Reprise)”).
At Babe’s home, Sid’s romantic overtures are deflected by Babe, who makes casual conversation on tangential subjects (“Small Talk”). Eventually the walls come down between the two, who admit their love for one another (“There Once Was a Man”), but their estrangement is reinforced when they return to the factory. A slow-down is staged by the union, strongly supported by Babe (“Racing with the Clock (Reprise)”). Sid, as factory superintendent, demands an “honest day’s work” and threatens to fire slackers. Babe is enraged by his attitude and kicks her foot into the machinery, causes a general breakdown and is immediately fired by Sid (“Hey There (Reprise)”).
At the Union meeting, Gladys (Mae in the 2006 revival) performs for the rest of the union, with “the boys from the cutting room floor” (“Steam Heat”). After the main meeting, the Grievance Committee meets at Babe’s house, to discuss further tactics, such as mismatching sizes of pajamas and sewing the fly-buttons onto the bottoms such that they are likely to come off and leave their wearer, pants-less. At the meeting, as Prez and Mae’s relationship is waning, Sid arrives, and tries to smooth things over with Babe. Despite her feelings for Sid, she pushes him away (“Hey There (Reprise)”).
Back at the factory, the girls reassure Hines, who is personally offended by the slow down (“Think of the Time I Save”). Sid, now convinced that Babe’s championship of the union is justified, takes Gladys out for the evening to a night club, “Hernando’s Hideaway,” where he wheedles the key to the company’s books from her. Hines and Babe each discover the pair and assume they are becoming romantically involved. Babe storms out, and Hines believes his jealous imaginings have come true (“I’ll Never Be Jealous Again Ballet”).
Using Gladys’ key, Sid accesses the firm’s books and discovers that the boss, Hasler, has already tacked on the extra seven and one-half cents to the production cost, but has kept all the extra profits for himself.
In Gladys’ office, Hines, still jealous out of his mind, flings knives past Gladys (deliberately missing, he claims), narrowly missing an increasingly paranoid Mr. Hasler. After detaining Hines, Sid then brings about Hasler’s consent to a pay raise and rushes to bring the news to the Union Rally, already in progress (“7 1/2 Cents”). This news brings peace to the factory and to his love life (“There Once Was a Man (Reprise)”).