Theatre review: The Pajama Game at the Shaftesbury Theatre
PUBLISHED: 10:55 22 May 2014
At last here is a big West end/ Broadway musical that actually lives up to its bill matter. It epitomises what musical theatre should be.
It is the same show that aired in London in 1955 and is set in that period but the choreography and style are brought up to date to accommodate the time we live in and it seems as fresh as ever. In the fifties there were eight dancers and eight singers and the principals were a class apart. But nowadays principles work along with the ensemble and due to our more comprehensive musical theatre training they can all dance and sing along with the best of them. The general feeling of all these modern productions is one of good humour and camaraderie.
Basically the book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell is about a projected strike in a pyjama factory and involves the awkward love affair between Babe – a Union rep bent on organising a walk out and Sid the new supervisor who needs his job and might lose it if the strike takes place.
Joanna Riding plays the tomboyish Babe who can do some real damage with a baseball bat and Michael Xavier as Sid has one of the best voices to be heard in the West end. Together they perform some of Adler and Ross’s great duets – and are wittily choreographed by Stephen Mear..
It is a strange subject for a jolly musical but the score has some of the greatest songs ever – many of them familiar, Hey there, Hernando’s Hideaway, I’m not at all in love, Small Talk etc. A favourite in this production is ‘I’ll never be jealous again’ performed and danced by two middle aged actors, Peter Polycarpou and Clare Machin. ‘Steam heat’ The big dance number that gave Shirley Maclean her career on Broadway is sung ad danced by Alexis Owen-Hobbs.
This a great show - brilliantly interpreted by director Richard Eyre. It has a limited run until September so get booking. You will come out of it a happier person. And that is what musical theatre should be about.
Rating: Five stars