The Pajama Game … snuggly but too soft

When I went: 4 August 2014

Music Owl Hoot rating: 3/5

Location: Shaftesbury Theatre, London

Performers: Joanna Riding (Babe), Michael Xavier (Sid), Peter Polycarpou (Vernon), Alexis Owen-Hobbs (Gladys)

Creative team: Richard Bissell (original novel), George Abbott and Richard Bissell (book), Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (music and lyrics), Richard Eyre (director)

Approximate price: £60

Special points: Old-fashioned sweetness

Best bit: Hernando’s Hideaway

If I could change one thing: More killer songs

Review:

The musical:

The Pajama Game premiered in Broadway in the 1950s and is set mostly in a pyjama factory, with the book focusing on the workers’ issues. It is based on Richard Bissell’s novel 7 1/2 Cents. It has received plenty of critical acclaim in the past but is not particularly well-loved by modern audiences, especially in the context of other works. It has plenty of sweetness and charm but the old-fashioned setting and gentle humour make it a hard sell for modern audiences.

This performance:

The leads were both strong, especially Joanna Riding as Babe, and they did have good chemistry with each other. There were some laughs from the audience but not a feeling of overwhelming appreciation; the atmosphere was more akin to a pleasant but unmemorable Sunday afternoon at the park.

The dance-heavy number Hernando’s Hideaway, featuring Alexis Owen-Hobbs as Gladys, was by far the best bit, but felt a bit out of place in this musical – like an exotic piece thrown in to liven up an otherwise mundane jigsaw.

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