The Pajama Game review - May 2014

For me I find seeing Chichester Festival Theatre transfers a pretty safe bet (Sweeney Todd, Singin’ In The Rain, Kiss Me Kate etc.) Everything has been tried and tested and usually comes onto the West End wrapped in a nice neat little bow. The Pajama Game is no exception. This fun, frothy classic is a sweet and simple evening’s entertainment that doesn’t require too much thinking.

I was delighted to finally see the wonderful Joanna Riding in the leading role she deserves (after somewhat stealing the show in her one real scene in Stephen Ward.) Whilst some may question her age suitability to the role of feisty factory worker Babe Williams, I thought she provided the right level of sweet yet sassy zeal. Riding is very watchable and really brought her character to life, especially in musical numbers such as “I Am Not At All In Love” and “Once A Year Day.”

Overall the whole cast and ensemble were strong. Michael Xavier was pretty darn eye pleasing as Sid (hello PECKS in Act 2!), a role that allowed him to express the softer side to his performing capabilities after playing a rather stern Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Both Peter Polycarpou and Alexis Owen-Hobbs provide some solid moments of comedy and frivolity and I loved the double casting of Colin Stinton as Hasler/Pop. Scenes when the whole cast performed together, such as the Act 1 picnic scene with “Once A Year Day” were undeniably the best moments of the show.

The Pajama Game is a classic Broadway Musical, harking back to a frothier era of joyous song and dance numbers. Director Richard Eyre and choreographer Stephen Mear worked well with the material given, but I personally find Adler and Ross musicals just a bit too sickly sweet with a niggling “All American” vibe.  That said the show is a solid, well rehearsed, positive package. There is no element of risk involved, but for some audiences this makes the show a safe bet for a good night out.

The Pajama Game certainly serves its purpose as a perfect Spring/Summer filler for the Shaftesbury Theatre, and with ticket prices refreshingly reasonable, I would definitely suggest a trip to see the show. Despite preferring a slightly denser musical, I left the theatre feeling happy and humming the show tunes, which I believe to be the mark of a successful production.

Pajama Game Review
13 May 2014, Shaftesbury Theatre