The Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory is a tiptop model of efficiency — so why are things getting so steamy? It could have something to do with how hard new superintendent Sid Sorokin has fallen for Babe Williams, the trouble-making head of the union grievance committee. Sparks really start to fly when a workers’ strike pits management against labor and ignites an outrageous battle of the sexes. Packed with seductive dance numbers like “Steam Heat” and “Hernando’s Hideaway,” the best way to ensure a good night’s rest during the hectic holiday season is to play The Pajama Game!
The Pajama Game, Arena’s production of a classic but lesser known musical from the fifties, goes down like a refreshing cocktail–it’s fizzy and light and so much fun. Then the score from Broadway’s “Golden Age” brings back faint memories of some of the songs and of course, the blatant sexism.
While the tone is light, the musical also shows us the way things were understood to be at the time of writing. As Artistic Director Molly Smith notes in the program,
“The musical also carries with it a level of sexism we’d be surprised to see in today’s society. Or are we experiencing some of it right now?…The brilliance of American musical theater is its ability to underscore ideas that echo through the decades and reminds us where we’ve come from and points to where society is going. In the Pajama Game, the threat of unionization for 7 1/2 cent raise drives a rift between sweethearts Sid and Babe, providing a surprisingly resonate story about how fare we are willing to let our differences keep us from true love. Try substituting the wage increase that comprises the relationship of the principal characters, with political party affliction — can you imagine anything more divisive in 2017.”
Aside from the underlying ways the show can teach us about ourselves today, the choreography is stunning. With choreography by Bob Fosse, the dancers twirl gracefully around the floor as if on air, but the audience can catch glimpses of the toned muscles in arms and backs that makes these feats possible. Steam Heat and Hernando’s Hideaway in particular are close to Cirque du Soleil-level acrobatics on stage. The audience is seated in the round, so we’re able to see all sides of the action.
Add to the mix zany supporting characters and even a real-live stage legend (Donna McKechnie starred in the original run of Chorus Line and at 74, dances on air). The side-story of jealous B-story couples, the glossed-over greed of the factory’s owner, and some shocking knife-throwing add tons of flavor to the show.
A fun and frothy theater experience for many ages, The Pajama Game may be your perfect holiday evening out. The show must close December 24, so reserve your tickets now.