NEW CASTLE PLAYHOUSE 'The Pajama Game' adds up to an entertaining show
A labor dispute is at the heart of the play.
Seven-and-a-half cents certainly isn't very much, but over a period of years it sure can mount.
That is the realization the employees of the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory come to in the New Castle Playhouse production of "The Pajama Game."
The 71/2 cents refers to the amount of the raise the union is demanding from the company. And it sure is a shame that real life labor disputes can't be as much fun as the one at NCP.
Premiering on Broadway in 1954, "The Pajama Game" was an instant hit and went on to be made into a movie starring Doris Day.
The story and the characters are fun and entertaining and the music is catchy and typical of the '50s genre.
Two songs from the show, "Hey, There," and "Hernando's Hideaway" went on to be standards and big hits for singing stars of the day. This is not a show that is seen much in local theater but it should be.
Director Michael Cavalier has assembled an energetic and exciting cast that make the manufacturing of pajamas seem like a dream job. And keeping in mind that it is a musical, musical director Lesley Gent has everyone in top form and voice for the production.
With labor unrest simmering around them Cavalier's leads, Patrick Erkman and Tammy Mathas as Sid and Babe, respectively, take two rather average roles and infuse them with excitement. Mathas, who has appeared frequently at NCP, does another delightful turn in a leading role for NCP. Her smooth style as Babe wins the audience over immediately. But don't let that sweetness mislead you. When Babe has to stand up for what she believes in as the union representative, Mathas takes the stand firmly but still maintains the dignity of the character.
Sid, a company supervisor, stands on the opposite side of the dispute, which puts his relationship with Babe on somewhat shaky ground. Erkman, as Sid, has a strong singing voice and is quite at home with the character, especially while delivering a musical number. His renditions of "Hey, There," and "A New Town Is a Blue Town" were very well done. He delivered the character well during those moments but seemed to slip a bit when delivering straight dialogue. The energy and the dynamic of the character seemed to suffer to a degree between musical numbers.
Julia Garda does double duty in this production playing the role of Gladys as well as serving as choreographer for the show.
Garda has choreographed many shows at NCP but is not usually seen in as large a stage role as Gladys. Maybe she is making up for lost time, but Garda is easily the hit of every scene in which she appears. Her style, her grace and her energy all combine to make her the unintentional scene stealer.
With Gladys being perhaps the meatiest role in the show, it is difficult taking your eyes off of her while she is onstage. She delivers every line and every move with a powerful punch. Her choreography is first rate and adds pizazz and glitz to the production. "Hernando's Hideaway" and "Jealousy Ballet" are high points in the show and are fine examples of Garda's talent.
Neal Edman has field day as the nervous Hines, who must make sure his employees don't get behind in their race with the clock. Brady Flamino as Prez and Rebecca Clarke as Mae are consistently funny and strong in two roles that are on and offstage numerous times during the evening. Phillip Clark, Jr., as company owner Hasler, is just that as he is constantly hassling his employees to work faster and to turn out more. Other memorable performances are turned in by Kali Davies, Stephanie Holt and Janet Falotico.