The Pajama Game

Date 28th November 2012
Society New Mills Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue New Mills Arts Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Rod Goddard
Musical Director David Chapman
Choreographer Michelle Pendergast

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Author: Kevin Proctor

This is an old-fashioned musical about love in the workplace, a relic from a bygone era in which sexual harassment was cute and funny.

Despite knowing most of the score, I’d not seen this show in its entirety and it soon became clear why this artefact from a different time in American theatre is not often staged today.

It was a hit on Broadway in 1954 and some of its charms still remain, particularly in the tuneful score which was handled impressively by Musical Director David Chapman and his Orchestra.

Most of what must have been appealing 58 years ago has decomposed with time. Married men who hit on the women at work are certainly not considered charming anymore, nor is it generally acceptable to depict the women as swooning airheads who are susceptible to every masculine advance that comes their way.

Time has not been kind to this show as many would now rank it as ‘dated’.

Sadly, more and more, I’m finding shows coming out of the ‘classic’ category and into the ‘dated’, I don’t think this means these shows should be shelved or buried, by having a more stylised / animated look, almost using a musical theatre satire approach to the characterisations would avoid a modern audience trying to take the story too seriously, allow us to simply get engrossed in the performances and songs without treating the dialogue scenes as pieces of naturalistic theatre - it’s not the plot what shows like these are really about anyway!

Rob Brittles as Sid with Stephanie Hill as Babe were far from being a believable match however each gave their all to the roles and created some charming moments. Catherine suited some of her songs better than others as did Rob. The highlight for the pair was undoubtedly the delivery of ‘There Once Was A Man’.

Debbie Howe as Gladys was a standout performance for me, she gave a larger-than-life characterisation with lovely comedy moments, either Debbie has bags of experience being on stage or she’s just a natural, she had fantastic stage presence and relished all of her scenes to achieve a well-rounded performance.

Hilary Edgerton gave a notable performance as Mabel with a well-developed character resulting in plenty of chuckles from the audience.

Choreography by Michelle Pendergast was a little on the tame side for me, particularly in ‘Steam Heat’ - the perfect vehicle to show off  – this could’ve been pushed with a more challenging and energised routine which the girls were clearly capable of handling.

Above all, the biggest statement for this production was David and his Orchestra. They sored and filled the beautiful New Mills Arts Theatre with Broadway charm.

Congratulations!