BWW Review: THE PAJAMA GAME at Palm Canyon Theatre
Watching The Pajama Game at Palm Canyon Theatre (PCT) was like taking a time machine back to the era of Ozzie and Harriet. No strain on the brain, a comfortable smile on your face, toes tapping along with the singers, and a couple of "Oh, I love that song. I never knew it was from this show!" moments.
A new superintendent comes to the Sleep Tite Pajama Factory, shoves a lazy employee, and comes face-to-face with the grievance committee - a single lady. OK, we know from that moment that the two of them will end up together, but we've got two enjoyable hours before that happens. PCT was lucky to coax husband and wife team Nicholas Sloan and Jamie Walker-Sloan to commute to Palm Springs for the production. We have sung their praises many times at Broadway World, but feared they were lost to us when they moved out of town last year. Nick plays Sid, the new superintendent, and sings the most famous song in the show, "Hey There." It felt like the entire audience sighed together when he used his magnificent baritone to bring the much-loved song to life. Jamie was every inch his match as Babe, the grievance committee, who quickly assures her fellow factory workers that she's "Not at All in Love" with the hunky new superintendent. Their duet, "There Once Was a Man," is virtually flawless, with both hitting a high level of energy and professionalism.
Another enjoyable element is seeing two PCT regulars handling meatier roles than they often have. David Brooks is charming and goofy as the union president who chases every skirt in the factory (the setting is pre-#MeToo), and Jana Giboney sparkles as Mabel, the mother hen of the entire company. Herb Schultz is the boss of the factory who is always stressed out, and Gary Powers is the factory's time management specialist. PCT veteran Morgana Corelli gets some solid laughs as Gladys, the secretary who has her pulse on everything that happens in the factory.
Perhaps the most enjoyable three minutes of the show were Anthony Nannini and Rob Rota starting the second act with "Steam Heat." In the original Broadway production, the actress playing Babe did the number, but it's a specialty number that has nothing to do with the plot, so Director Richard Marlow and Choreographer Stephanie Eley were wise to use these two talented and good-looking men. The opening night sold-out house thundered their approval at the end of the number.
Richard Marlow is certainly establishing himself as a solid director, and working with a quickly changing set designed by Toby Griffin, whisks us from the factory floor to offices, Babe's house, and Hernando's Hideaway (yes, that song is from this show as well). And most enjoyably, he has pumped the entire company full of energy. It's infectious.
J. W. Layne's lighting kept us in the moment, and Derik Shopinski's costumes were of the high level we have grown to expect from him. Mado Nunez's wigs were perfect for the mid-50's period. New Musical Director, Phillip Hubler, was perhaps a bit nervous on opening night and a little dissonant on the piano from time to time, but he will most likely relax as the run goes on. He is joined by David Bronson on drums and Larry Holloway on bass.
Pajama Game continues through March 15. Tickets and further information are available at www.PalmCanyonTheatre.org, or 760-323-5123. Palm Springs' favorite, Sordid Lives, returns for one week only at the end of March, followed by You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Photo by Paul Hayashi
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