Review: The Pajama Game at the Shaftesbury Theatre
| By Andrew Tomlins
Richard Adler, Jerry Ross, George Abbott and Richard Bissell's 1954 Broadway musical The Pajama Game has finally found its way to the West End following a successful run in Chichester. The uplifting production is tremendous fun.
The story is light-hearted and cheerful. Set at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory in 1950s America, The Pajama Game follows new Superintendent Sid Sorokin who falls in love with feisty factory worker and union rep Babe Williams. The predictable story is rescued by its timeless score packed with incredible songs; I couldn’t believe just how many I already knew!
It’s fantastic to see Michael Xavier (Sid) back in the West End in a role that showcases his phenomenal vocal talents. Xavier, who most recently played Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music at the Open Air Theatre, provides the highlight of the show with his rendition of ‘Hey There’. Famously covered by Frank Sinatra, the song is stunning. The simplicity of the melody is magical.
Joanna Riding (Babe) is a dream to watch on stage. The star, whose stage credits include My Fair Lady and Billy Elliot, embraces every moment and leads the cast with her passionate performance. Gary Wilmot has also joined the company, taking over as Vernon Hines. Wilmot has mastered his comical performance and made the role his own.
Richard Eyre and Stephen Mear provide strong direction and choreography. Their production is nothing short of smooth and classy, filling the gap left behind in the West End by Singin' in the Rain and Top Hat. The ensemble perform with such character and individuality, they don't all look the same which is refreshing.
The Pajama Game is a fun show performed by a ridiculously talented cast. This ballsy musical is bursting with charm and it’s certainly a safe option, providing a few hours of joyous escapism.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins
The Pajama Game runs at the Shaftesbury Theatre until Saturday 13th September 2014