Reviews/Musical Theatre

Pajama antics at work and play

11 September 2022

WAAPA’s The Pajama Game is a lively musical with a nice little message. Erin Hutchinson gives her 7½ Cents worth.

The Pajama Game, WAAPA 3rd Year Music Theatre and Music ·
Roundhouse Theatre, 9 September 2022 ·

The Roundhouse Theatre at the WA Academy of Performing Arts is a quirky little space, but director and choreographer Cameron Mitchell has worked wonders with the 2022 Music Theatre graduating class on The Pajama Game.

The musical, with a book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell (based on Bissell’s novel 7½ Cents which was, interestingly, based on his experiences in his family’s pajama factory in Dubuque, Iowa) has a ripper of a score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The show has two Tony Awards under its belt, one for the original Broadway production in 1955 for Best Musical, and the other for Best Revival of a Musical in 2006, so you know it’s a safe bet, and the audience on opening night are definitely along for the ride.

It’s a simple premise – boy in management meets gorgeous girl at work and falls head over heels. She’s pretty sensible though and knows that her deep passion for working rights and involvement in the union will come between them. It does but, like any good golden age musical, it all works out fine.

As an ensemble, this group is tight, and the movement – not surprising given Mitchell’s strong choreographic background – is interesting and exciting. “The Pajama Game Opening” and “Racing With the Clock” set the tone and energy for the show and it doesn’t drop. Even the “slowdown” moments hold energy with outstanding focus.

Colour and movement in a scene from ‘The Pajama Game’. Photo: Stephen Heath.

Hamish Pickering as leading man Sid Sorokin croons like a member of the Rat Pack, with a smooth and silky voice. His lovely rendition of the popular number “Hey There” goes over particularly well.

Lily Jones as Babe Williams absolutely shines. With a voice perfectly suited to the part, and stockings stuffed with personality, Jones is a joy to watch. Her “I’m Not At All in Love” with the ladies ensemble was beautifully controlled and, like every other moment she is on stage, I feel drawn to her nuanced expressions and reactions even from the balcony bench seats. If there is any fault with the staging, it would be that perhaps the front rows of the ground level seating see her back a little much to enjoy her delightful Babe to the fullest.

Lily Jones and Jackson Britza with some of the ensemble in ‘The Pajama Game’. Photo: Stephen Heath.

The secondary love stories are really what make this musical a little more playful, as the audience invests in the antics of Prez and Mae (Jackson Britza and Regan Barber) and Gladys and Vernon (Britt Carter and Campbell Parsons). This foursome get a ton of opportunity to deliver, with a series of outrageous interactions and characterisations. Britza in particular stands out as one to watch with “Her Is” and the novel title number “7½ Cents”, though Parsons performs a wonderful “Think Of The Time I Save” and he and Carter have some great physical comedy moments.

Also leaning into the physical comedy is Francesca Nason as older secretary Mabel, whose commitment to acting “old” is incredible, and she garners some good chuckles in “I’ll Never Be Jealous Again”. Rohan Campbell provides nice contrast with the strict, swindling factory boss, Hasler.

The whole production is presented beautifully under set designer Pia Dewar and costume designer Charli Strickland, with a strong hit of a 50s colour palette flooding the stage in every possible way. It is kitsch and cartoonesque but so very joyous and supports the silliness of the storyline well. Lighting design by Peter Young is well executed, and has its own shining moments in “Hernando’s Hideaway”.

This production is well blended and makes the most of a talented group. As a story, it’s a bit of fluff, but as one of the very few musicals supporting union action, it should be on everyone’s playlist.

The sold-out run of The Pajama Game continues until 15 September 2022.

Pictured top: Lily Jones and Hamish Pickering in the lead roles of ‘The Pajama Game’. Photo by Stephen Heath

See more of what we saw in the latest performances from WAAPA’s 2022 graduating class.

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Author —
Erin Hutchinson

Erin Hutchinson is an actor, singer, theatre maker and teacher who is passionate about local arts. Whilst she wishes she could still be a ninja on the monkey bars, she’s content to enjoy a turn on the swings… easier to still hold a glass of wine.

Past Articles

  • Lyrical litter bring new purr-spective

    WAAPA’s graduating class shine in a poetic production of Cats, even if the feline stories don’t quite thread together, writes Erin Hutchinson. 

  • Don’t dream it – see it!

    The cast is incredible, the designs divine and the joys are endless. Erin Hutchinson urges you all to celebrate Rocky Horror’s big birthday and do the time warp again.

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