When I went: 4 August 2014
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
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.
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.