Presented by Northern Light Theatre Company
Reviewed 25 March 2017
Even though there are many exciting, evocative ‘new’ musicals to be experienced, we all need to relax every once in a while with a nice old-fashioned musical comedy/romance – and if it has a tiny glimmer of a message, even better. The Pajama Game fits the bill (or should that be, torso) perfectly. Based on the novel 7 1/2 Cents by Richard Bissell, with a book by him and George Abbott, with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (featuring such hits as Hey There, Steam Heat, Hernando’s Hideaway and Once A Year Day), the show may be more well known here as a movie starring Doris Day.
It is the delightful story of a works superintendent falling in love with the female head of a pajama factory’s Grievance Committee, while the workers fight for a seven and a half cent pay rise (well, it is set in the Fifties after all).
Northern Light have wisely chosen a man to direct, who certainly knows how to mount pleasurable musicals, in Max Rayner. He presents us with quite a well paced production – although there is a scene in Act Two that could do with speeding up – full of life, colour and some great talent. Linda Lawson’s choreography is fun and always appropriate to the style of the musical number being performed at the time: red hot Jazz for Steam Heat, a terrific Tango for Hernando’s Hideawy, and an impish routine on the cutest little mobile work stations ever for Racing With The Clock, and many more. All the routines are carried out by the cast with fantastic (sewing) machine precision.
Rebecca Mason, swapping tap shoes for a baton, gives a highly impressive debut as the show’s Musical Director, advised by the experienced Tammy Papps. Mason manages to get a clean, crisp sound out of, not only the orchestra, but her singers as well. Diction from all the voices is spot on and (yay) an orchestra that is at just the right sound level. Watch out for this young lady!
Another person who treads a different track in this production is leading man Buddy Dawson. Certainly no stranger to lead roles, Dawson usually plays the comic ones and extremely well. Sid is the quintessential serious leading man, with potentially not a funny bone in him. This reviewer admits to having had doubts on Dawson being cast in the role, but he is brilliant! Dawson proves beyond doubt that he is a true triple threat in this role. He is totally believable and meshes beautifully with his leading lady, Lauren Renee – and Ladies, be prepared to swoon when he croons Hey There.
Renee is also perfectly cast. Her vocal strength matches Dawson’s and their chemistry together is sublime; and she does ‘fiesty’ extremely well.
Nikki Gaertner-Eaton gives strong support as Gladys, especially when showing off her dance skills in Steam Heat and Hernando’s Hideaway. Rose Vallen also gives a nice portrayal of the other main secretary, Mabel. Her self-choreographed ‘soft shoe’ routine with Seb Cooper (Hines) during I’ll Never Be Jealous Again is worthy of the price of admission alone.
On the night reviewed, Cooper started off the show a little tentatively (who wouldn’t with a mic that wanted to wander) but once in his stride, he took off and provided some great comic moments as well as the above mentioned dance routine.
Like most Pajamas, these have a couple of slight flaws that will more than likely be cut off after further inspection, but in the long run are extremely comfortable. So change your bedtime routine and go see Northern Light’s The Pajama Game.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Shedley Theatre
Season: Until 8 April 2017
Duration: 2 hrs 40 mins (including interval)
Tickets: $27 and $32
Bookings: On line at www.northernlight.org.au/tickets
By phone 82815026 (9am to 9pm)
or BASS 131246