Although seven and a half cents doesn’t buy a hell of a lot, the workers at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory fight for it in St. Clair College’s production of the classic musical The Pajama Game, which ran a short Easter run this weekend at the Chrysler Theatre in Windsor.
Featuring Music Theatre Performance and Entertainment Technology students, The Pajama Game was a visually spectacular show with catchy songs made famous in the 1950s. A rather large ensemble cast sang its way through a two-hour show filled with laughs, good music and an incredible stage show.
One young woman in the audience was excited to see her grandmother sing along to hit songs like Steam Heat, Hernando’s Hideaway and Hey There. Their status as classics are not lost all these years later and still stay fresh in your head hours after seeing the show.
The Pajama Game was the most fun I’ve had at a theatre since Disney’s Beauty and The Beast opened in Toronto in the early 2000s.
The production was big, the actors were stellar and the execution appeared flawless. Hats off to the dozens of behind the scenes costumers, carpenters, painters, effects and assorted other crew for hosting a fast-paced show with constant set and costume changes. They put the fly tower to good use on this one. And if you don’t believe me, just look at all the photos and video online featuring other local productions of The Pajama Game throughout the world – most of them don’t utilize a fly tower or professionally crafted stage props.
One of the factors giving this show a bit of an edge was a 12-piece orchestra hidden in the pit in front of the stage. Other than the waves of conductor John Karr’s hands, you’d visually never know they were there, but seen or not, the orchestra was as important to this production as the actors themselves.
Joey McDonough (Hines), Malinda Carroll (Babe) and Nolan Cox (Sid) were strong vocalists, steadily leading the cast through numerous song and dance routines. Katie Manuel was a blast to watch as Mabel, Sid’s secretary and Danielle Desjardins was super fun to see as a drunk Gladys passing out at Hernando’s Hideaway, as well as the sexy moments when she could shake her hips and act like a diva.
Manuel was the most daring of the cast during a pajama fashion show, modeling a fairly revealing two-piece black outfit that she wore with confidence. It would have been great to hear her sing a few more songs, but that was never in the cards for Mabel.
Standout performances included the impeccable There Once Was a Man with Cox and Carroll, Her Is performed by Fynn Cuthbert (Prez) in two versions, one with Desjardins and the other with Dana Halliday (Mae), as well as a fiercely choreographed Racing With The Clock by the Factory Workers ensemble as pieces of pajama flung in the air as they were being stitched.
It’s interesting Katherine Kaszas decided to direct the original version of the show and not the 2006 revival version. I wonder if this was to challenge the cast and crew with making an accurate reproduction of a famous classic while utilizing the modern tools available. Whatever the reason may have been, it was a good choice and The Pajama Game quickly earns its place as a highlight of a very busy Windsor theatre season.