The Pajama Game

By Chris Heide

 Photo credit Mark Kitaoka

Photo credit Mark Kitaoka

The Pajama Game is a sizzling, dazzling, classic Broadway musical, recently revived at the 5th Avenue Theater. It’s an archetypal American musical, focusing on a humorous plot revolving around labor and wage dispute during the height of the golden-age of American manufacturing. Given the current political climate, The Pajama Game manages to be both nostalgic and eerily topical.

The cast, as always, is superb. Billie Wildrick plays Babe, the head of the factory’s grievance committee. The bulk of the plot revolves around her battles with Sid (Joshua Davis), the superintendent of the factory. Naturally, Babe and Sid fall in love through the course of the show, promulgating the popular ‘will-they-or-wont they’ trope that Hollywood seems to love so much.

The show itself is a traditional Broadway musical; a classical juxtaposition of bombastic production numbers mixed with seemingly sleepy ballads.  To be honest, while beautifully performed, many of the ballads are forgettable and seem to drag down the pace of the show.

Highlighted numbers from the show include “Hernando’s Hideaway” and “Steam Heat”. Both feature brilliant and nuanced choreography. “Steam Heat” in particular is filled with Bob Fosse inspired choreography, something that adds and extra layer of depth to the show.

The true genius of the show comes through the small comedic moments. Taryn Darr is dazzling, both in comedic timing and dancing prowess, as Mae, one of the factory workers.  She simply steals the focus of any scene she is in. Greg McCormick Allen and Shaunyce Omar are both equally brilliant as Hines and Mable, respectively.

For such a definitive Broadway musical, The Pajama Game is extremely topical. Labor and wage disputes are timely political fodder, given our current administration. Current events help to provide this musical with a layer of complexity and subtext that might have been missing otherwise.

The Pajama Game is a must see, tour-de-force and yet another success story for the 5th Avenue Theatre. It's a scintillating cacophony of sound and sight.