By Elisabeth Snyder
What is one to expect in a half-century old, Tony-award winning show called “The Pajama Game”? Certainly, some sexiness or a love story.
But what the show delivers is so much more: A tale of two workers for Sleep Tite Pajama Company, one the superintendent and one the chair of the workers union’s grievance committee, who despite their different stations and stances, fall in love. The Falls Church High School theatre department blended the risque and the everyday perfectly, putting on a show that was relevant and that the audience won’t soon forget.
Set in the early 1950s in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, “The Pajama Game” begins when the Vice President of Sleep-Tite Pajama Company, Hasler, hires a new superintendent, Sid Sorokin, to deal with workers’ requests for a seven and a half cent pay raise per hour.
Sid faces struggles with the president of the workers’ union, referred to as Prez, and Katie “Babe” Williams, the woman he falls in love with. Babe is quick to understand the potential consequences of entering a relationship with Sid, but he ignores any problems until he absolutely needs to address them.
The musical features songs which show the emotions of Sid, and the other factory workers, as each navigates their own romantic and professional lives. “Hernando’s Hideaway,” with stunning vocals from Gladys (Sarah Mack), Hasler’s secretary. The cast’s dancing was full of character and really brings you back to the 1950s. A time-study piece, the show highlighted the differences between today’s society and workplace and that of the past.
Other songs that stood out were charged emotional duets featuring Babe (Casey Nguyen) and Sid (Patrick Kearney) as they navigated their relationship, from “There Once Was a Man” to “Small Talk.” A song that featured ensemble members, “Once a Year Day,” set at the annual company picnic, was a hit.
Whenever Babe and Sid’s relationship didn’t seem to be going well or relations between the management of the factory and the workers were contentious, Hines (Jack Child) would always step in with something comedic. Whether he was throwing knives or singing the hilarious “Think of the Time I’ll Save,” he captured the audience’s hearts. Another character who added to the comedy, with a rich and expressive singing voice, was Mabel (Samaria Dellorso). In her song and dance number with Hines, she displayed a wide range of notes and emotions.
To bring even more meaning to each scene, the lighting team chose colors and spotlights that made specific things stand out. The set also added significantly; with details like an elevator and clock that actually ticked through the day, and multiple levels which were used effectively throughout the show, the audience could picture “The Pajama Game” happening in the 1950’s.
Though the musical focused on one narrative in one factory in one Midwestern town, it speaks to a greater need for cooperation and understanding — and maybe even deciding to date someone in a position much different from your own.
Elisabeth Snyder is a Cappies member from George Mason High School