For many apartment dwellers, steam heat is a nuisance. The early morning clanging and banging from ancient pipes is a cacophony of irritation and torment. For lucky theatergoers who find their way to Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage however, the warmth generated by their current production of The Pajama Game will leave them percolating with delight.
This 1954 tuner, written by George Abbott and Richard Bissell has seen numerous revivals, most recently on Broadway in 2006 starring Harry Connick, Jr. and Kelli O’Hara. Kathleen Marshall directed and choreographed the critically acclaimed Roundabout production. Consequently, it walked away with two Tony Awards; Best revival and Best choreography.
Director Alan Paul‘s production might not have Connick and O’Hara, but it undeniably has some top notch New York and Washington D.C. talent.
Tim Rogan stars as Sid Sorokin, a new superintendent at the Sleep Tite Pajama factory who finds himself in the midst of a labor–and love– dispute. His workers demand a 7 1/2 cent raise. Babe (Britney Coleman), a factory employee, sides with the union. The two inevitably–and reluctantly–fall for one another. Rogan and Coleman have wonderful chemistry together and watching them break down each other’s defenses is endearing. Their duet, “There Once Was a Man” is smoldering with sexual energy.
Though the plot is thoroughly predictable, The Pajama Game is stuffed with good old-fashioned show tunes from Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, most notable of which is the reflective ballad, “Hey There.” Eddie Korbich as the factory’s fastidious time study man and Donna McKechnie as the boss’ secretary are a lovely comic pairing in “I’ll Never Be Jealous Again.” Blakely Slaybaugh nearly runs off with the show in “Her Is” . Nancy Anderson showcases her lithe moves (choreographed with Fosse flair by Parker Esse) in the Act II opener, “Steam Heat”. Later, she leaves the audience in hysterics with “Hernando’s Hideaway.”
By some, the show could be deemed old-fashioned and dated. Yet Mr. Paul has managed to gently accent contemporary themes of sexism and income inequality– in the process, he’s done it in manner that resists lecturing. Instead, he places more emphasis on fun and frivolity. With a daily deluge of sexual impropriety and harassment cases, this is Washington’s safest and liveliest pajama party that won’t implicate anyone.
The Pajama Game runs through December 24th, 2017 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater 1101 Sixth Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024. For tickets and information, click here.