The Pajama Game at Seattle Musical Theatre was another one of those bi-polar productions, with a very weak first act which was like an unfunny sit-com. This was due to bad writing, overly long exposition, lack of compelling conflict and some songs where the lyrics did not match the music; however the second act was full of energy, conflict and good songs.
The Pajama Game by playwright and Richard Bissell with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, won the Tony Award in 1954, and tells the story of striking garment workers in Cedar Rapids Iowa, an era when bosses could call their female subordinates “girls” with impunity, when clothes were made in the US, unions still existed, and the greedy right-wingers called their enemies “Communists” instead of “Liberals” The romantic subplot, naturally revolved around the newly hired superintendent of production falling for a committed female union official.
Although there were weaknesses in the script, the production was excellent. The set, with the band on stage spectacularly depicted an older urban industrial landscape, the musicians could not be beat, the choreography, costumes and singing were spectacular.
In particular the lead male, Derek Hanson, playing Sid Sorokin stole the show, a fine “Helden Tenor” who had looks and dancing to match, his female counterpart, Kirsten deLahr Helland playing Babe Williams, was fantastic as well.
The only fault in the production was that although it took place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, many of the characters adopted over-the-top New York accents and personalities. Having lived in Iowa for many years, I can tell you that not only do they not talk like that, they are also, less pushy and smart-aleky, in fact it is an insult to suggest that someone maybe a New Yorker if they are a native Iowan.
If you generally like musicals and you can sit through a dull first act, this musical is worth seeing. It would seem to me that an enterprising lyricist and playwright, could re-write some of the lyrics as well as the first act, while keeping the music, which was interesting.
THE PAJAMA GAME by Richard Bissell with Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. Seattle Musical Theatre. Magnuson Park Theatre, 7110 62nd Ave. NE, Seattle September 9 to Oct. 2, Fri.-Sat, 7:30 , 2 pm Sunday matinee. www.seattlemusicaltheatre.org (206) 363-2809