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03Dec

The Pajama Game, Falls Church High School, Falls Church, Virginia, December 1, 2018

Ashtyn Spring

West Springfield High School

 

What would it be like to work in a 1950's factory, toiling long hours for little pay?  Richard Pike Bissell and George Abbott give insight into this in their book "7-1/2 Cents" which transitions easily into the musical "The Pajama Game" by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.  Falls Church High School's theatre embraces the shenanigans and hardships that come from risking everything to make a change  in this musical first produced in 1954.

 

The musical is set in the Sleep Tight pajama factory where efficiency is key.  Dozens of young women work tirelessly cutting patterns, sewing fabric, and adding the finishing touches while seated behind identical sewing machines.  When a sewing machine malfunctions, the newly hired, no nonsense Sid Sorokin (Patrick Kearney) is called to repair it before too much valuable work time is lost.  Kearney expresses ambitions, feelings, and desires through repeated performances of his solo song "A New Town is a Blue Town."  The mood is enhanced with the use of blue lights on the cyclorama and the absence of other characters on the stage during this heartfelt song.

 

Sid's attention is redirected from climbing the business ladder by Babe Williams, portrayed by Casey Nguyen.  Soon after a first date, their growing love is made apparent to everyone at the pajama factory.  Endearing duets like "Small Talk" and "There Once Was a Man" show their relationship to be strong.      

 

The duet "I'll Never Be Jealous Again," with its pleasing harmonies and comedic dance choreography, was a highlight for both Mabel (Samaria Dellorso) and Hines (Jack Child).  Another standout duet was "Her Is" performed by married, ladies' man Prez (Jack Kearney) and Sleep Tight secretary Gladys (Sarah Mack).  The partnered dance moves, choreographed by Annie Stamp, corresponded perfectly with the lyrics to add a humorous visual representation of the song.  This song was reprised later in Act One to emphasize the player side of Prez that would catch up with him in Act Two.  Mack and Kearney's chemistry and physicality sold this number flawlessly.  The choreography in the duets of this musical showcased the relationships between the characters, added artistic flair to the musical numbers, and left the audience entertained and wanting more. 

 

Gladys (Mack) stole the show in the memorable number "Hernando's Hideaway." This spicy ensemble piece started with Mack's strong offstage vocal as dancers in white moved under the glow of blacklight.  Their sultry silhouettes as well as Mack's effortless vocals set the mood for the rest of the song. Mack appears onstage to dramatically lead the number in a fitted red satin dress with a flowy skirt perfect for dancing.  Another song where Mack showed her dancing and singing skills was in "Steam Heat."  In this interactive song Mack, alongside Derek Castillo and Isaac Shryock, tap danced for the labor union and got the audience involved with clapping the strong rhythm.  This energetic piece left the audience feeling as if they were in the union with the factory workers.

 

Throughout the musical Sid and Babe meet conflict from their differing stances on the pay raise.  Babe stood up for what she believed in, higher pay, even at the risk of losing her job and her true love. The satisfying conclusion leaves the audience convinced that risking it all for what you believe to be right, even if it is just seven and half cents, is worth it.


 

Margarita Gamarnik

South Lakes High School

 

What do you get when you cross a blooming relationship with zany characters and... sleepwear? Why, only the Tony Award winning musical The Pajama Game! Presented by Falls Church High School, this laugh-and-a-half of a show relays the ever relevant message of the power in fighting for what is right.

 

Based on a 1953 novel by Richard Bissell titled 7 1/2 Cents, The Pajama Game tells the story of the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, where exploited workers demand a raise. Leading the cause is strong-willed Babe Williams, the union grievance committee head with only one goal: to deliver a 7 1/2 cent raise to each of her fellow factory workers. However, the arrival of new factory superintendent Sid Sorokin derails Babe's plan as a romance blossoms between them despite their opposition on the wages argument. With a book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell and music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, this classic Golden Age musical showcases witty dialogue, spectacular dance numbers, and beautifully melodic songs while chronicling the timeless story.

 

Playing the (almost) star crossed lovers Babe and Sid were Casey Nguyen and Patrick Kearney, respectively. Nguyen's headstrong and independent persona contrasted fantastically with Kearney's passionate and committed portrayal, creating an exciting dynamic that was at its most evident in the outright declaration of love, "There Once Was a Man." Kearney displayed an impressive range of facial expression and varied vocal inflection that, coupled with his confident physicality, made for a captivating performance. Nguyen's adamant ignorance of her romantic feelings towards Kearney's Sid in "I'm Not at All in Love" supported her fierce characterization, as she refused to acknowledge her true emotions while being teased by the engaged Factory Girls ensemble.

 

A standout of the show was Sarah Mack as Gladys, the bubbly and determined secretary of Sleep-Tite factory head, Hasler. Whether enthusiastically executing the tap dance Act 2 opener, "Steam Heat," or driving the chaotic energy of "Hernando's Hideaway," Mack consistently demonstrated stellar vocals and outstanding comedic timing. Her loving partner and factory timekeeper, Hines, was played by Jack Child, who opened the show with a clear and pleasant rendition of "The Pajama Game." Child assumed his knife-throwing, timekeeping character with ease, revealing his extremely jealous nature in "I'll Never Be Jealous Again," a charming duet he shared with Samaria Dellorso as Mabel, the caring and organized secretary to the superintendent.

 

Jack Kearney as Prez, the leader of the factory workers union, delivered a brilliant performance, with commanding stage presence, powerful speech quality, and dazzling dance moves. Playing the Sleep-Tite company manager Hasler, Colin Page balanced out the serious demands of his authoritative role with exaggerated gestures and repeated dialogue that added a comedic aspect to his performance.

 

The inventive student choreography by Annie Stamp successfully contributed to the atmosphere of the piece, as did other technical elements. The set proved to be multi-functional, with the intricate brick detailing inside the factory efficiently transitioning to Hasler and Sid's office and Babe's house with just a few adjustments. The use of a blacklight in "Hernando's Hideaway" served to emphasize the dark cover of the nightclub and provided a cool contrast to the brightness of the factory, while the blue lighting during Sid's numerous melancholic ballads including "Hey There" was a direct representation of his somber state.

 

The cast and crew of The Pajama Game generated "Steam Heat" with this thrilling interpretation of the classic musical. The heartwarming tale of The Pajama Game has stood the test of time, with Falls Church High School's wonderful production proving why.

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