Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pajama Game

Every community theater company should have a comedienne like Lauren Miller, who can be seen currently as Gladys, the secretary, in the Davis Musical Theatre Company production of 'The Pajama Game.'

It has been a delight to watch her grow and develop in the various roles she has played during the past few years. For those who've had the fortune to see Gwyneth Bruch on stage, Miller reminds me of a blonde Bruch.

'Pajama Game' - music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross; book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell - is a dated bit of fluff about the workers in the Sleep Tite pajama factory, and their struggle to get a 7-1/2-cents-per-hour raise in pay. (The audience tittered when calculations showed that in a year's time, that would come to $852.74, which would buy a year's supply of gasoline!)

Joshua Smith plays Sid Sorokin, the new factory superintendent, who falls in love with Babe Williams (Amber Moore), the leader of the grievance committee.

But of course: Where else would we find the conflict plot line?

Smith and Moore are quite good. Smith has a nice voice and a pleasant manner. Moore's Babe lacks a bit of fire in her factory confrontations with Sid, but her voice is wonderful. Her melancholy 'Hey There' is like taking a bath in a tub of hot fudge: rich and warm, and something you wish would go on and on.

Their duet, 'There Once Was a Man,' is great fun.

Hines ('Hinzie') is the time-keeper charged with adhering to procedural order and increasing productivity. It's a strong role that requires someone who can be larger than life. Herb K. Schultz does not fit the bill. He seems pleasant - although the character actually is more of a curmudgeon - and he can carry a tune, but director Steve Isaacson can't get any energy out of him.

Hinzie's duet with Mabel (Dannette Vassar), the 'mother hen' of the factory and Sid's secretary, should be a show-stopper, but 'I'll Never Be Jealous Again' just kind of lies on the stage floor, while the audience gives polite applause.

Vassar, on the other hand, plays her role to the hilt. She has been getting meatier roles in recent productions, and definitely is coming into her own as an actress.

Dustin White plays Mr. Hasler, a CEO full of bluff and bluster ... and with a good sense of double-entry bookkeeping.

John Ewing is 'Prez,' the head of the union, who chases after anything in skirts. Michael McElroy is Max, one of the factory's salesmen.

Kirs Farhood and Jabriel Shelton join Lauren Miller in the 'Steam Heat' number. They're dressed all in black, with red accents: gloves, socks and hat band, with a red tie for Shelton.

The number itself is outstanding, and choreographer Darryl Strohl is careful to give it the Bob Fosse looks that made the song famous.

Strohl also created an interesting look for the 'Hernando's Hideaway' number, with dark figures against a bright orange-red backdrop. And his choreography is fun during the factory picnic number, 'Once a Year Day.'

A couple other actors in small roles are worth mentioning, starting with McKinley Carlisle, as Poopsie. Carlisle is cute as a button, and sparkles whenever she's on stage. Also pay attention to Chris Peterson, as Charlie. He has little to do, but he's one of those people who just gets 'noticed' when on stage.

Unfortunately, this 'Pajama Game' is less than the sum of its parts. Although individual performances are quite good, the show lacks pizzazz. It's a pleasant way to pass a few hours, but you won't leave the theater on a high, recalling how terrific the show is.

The DMTC cast and crew always work hard, and the energy should have appeared on stage, but - except for a moment, here and there - it didn't.

The music and vocal direction are by Erik Daniells, and it's fun to hear all those old songs again.

And if costume designer Jean Henderson wants to go into the pajama-making business, she'd have a ready clientele. The pajamas for the finale are just great.

I wanted a pair myself.


Anonymous said...

Are those the same pajamas as the ones from the opening number of "La Cage"?

Bev Sykes said...

Oh definitely not. These are all comfy flannel pj's in lots of different patterns.