After Thomas A. Edison's 2005 production of “Pippin,” the yearly spring musical is taking a turn towards the classical with “The Pajama Game.”
"It's really a fun show," said Alyssa Passey, Edison's theater director. "Most people who will come to see it already know the songs; they just didn't know that those songs were from The Pajama Game." Among the songs Passey referred to are "Steam Heat," "Hernando's Hideaway," and “Hey There.”
“The Pajama Game” has been a hit with audiences since its Broadway debut on May 13, 1954, at the St. James Theater. The show was adapted from the book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell, and the lyrics and music were written and composed by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. Abbott, Adler and Ross are also widely recognized as the trio behind Damn Yankees, which was released a year after “The Pajama Game” and has similarly come to be loved by many.
In this light comedy, the unsatisfied workers at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory demand a seven-and-a-half cent raise. Babe Williams, head of the grievance committee, finds a worthy adversary and potential boyfriend in the new factory superintendent Sid Sorokin. But will they be able to keep their personal life separate from their professional one?
Since its original production, the show has been revived twice on Broadway, once in late 1973 and again in February of 2006, a production that is still ongoing. Original cast members included Janis Paige in the role of Babe Williams, John Raitt as Sid Sorokin and Carol Haney as Gladys. The show enjoyed so much popularity that it was adapted for film in 1957, with Doris Day starring as Babe Williams.
At the 1955 Tony Awards, “The Pajama Game” won the much-coveted Tony Award for Best Musical, as well as Best Choreography (Bob Fosse) and Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Carol Haney).
The cast and crew for Edison’s production have almost three months to learn and rehearse, and with Fosse-style choreography, it's a long process. The seniors are participating in their bittersweet, last high-school show. Freshmen are excited to be cast in the musical. Those who aren't making their first appearance onstage are simply doing what they do. "I try out for the plays because they're fun. It's a good way to spend time with people," said junior Spencer Peterson. At rehearsals, which usually run for about 3 hours after school, several days a week, the students work hard to block scenes and learn the extensive choreography.
Zach Sempsey and Stephanie Rinehart, the leads from last year’s production of “Pippin,” play the main characters, Sid Sorokin and Babe Williams. Both are seniors this year and also participate in Edison’s choral program. Other returning seniors include Christina Tucker, who is choreographing and stage managing the show, and Will Hicks, who played the lead in “Arsenic and Old Lace” earlier this school year. With a great cast, crew, and directors, the production of “The Pajama Game” is sure to be a hit.