Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Pajama Game (2009 SLOC Production)

This past weekend I had the pleasure of seeing a performance of The Pajama Game by the Schenectady Light Opera Company. SLOC is devoted to producing four musicals a year. Regrettably, I’ve only seen one previous performance there: the 2000 production of Little Me. This was truly excellent, and I’m not really sure why I haven’t been back in nine years. I’m very sorry to have missed some of their past productions like Anything Goes and Thoroughly Modern Millie (even without “The Tapioca”), but I don’t feel too bad about missing Assassins and The Full Monty. Still, I have to give them credit for branching out from the old favorites.

When I saw that The Pajama Game was on the roster, I decided to get tickets. Although I had enjoyed Little Me, I arrived at The Pajama Game with some trepidation. The previous weekend I saw a local dramatic production, and it was less than stellar. I won’t say what it was, but let’s just say that last night I dreamt I went to Schenectady – and it was a nightmare. Thankfully, The Pajama Game left me with only pleasant dreams.

The Pajama Game (music and Lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross; book by George Abbott & Richard Bissell) features some well-known songs like "Hey There," "Steam Heat," and "Hernando's Hideaway." I missed the recent Broadway revival with Harry Connick Jr., but I have seen the 1957 Doris Day/John Raitt movie version.

The SLOC version was delightful. Initially I was concerned about the casting of the leads. The Sid Sorokin character seemed to be much younger than the Babe Williams character (although the actors may have been about the same age). Any doubts that I had evaporated when I heard Josh Gray, playing Sid Sorokin, sing. He has a beautiful voice, and I hope he will be in future productions (I'm thinking Joe Cable. They haven't done South Pacific since 1967). Natalie Bain as Babe was also excellent. The supporting cast was also stellar, in particular Kevin X. McNamara as Hines.

The only slight flaws in the production were technical; sometimes the sound mixing wasn't quite right. Other than that, I was blown away by the quality of the performers. Since I can't share this performance, I'll share some of my favorite songs from other productions.

Here's the 2006 Broadway Revival cast performing "There Once was a Man" and "Hernando's Hideaway":

Courtesy of sftMusicals on YouTube.

Here is the great version of "Steam Heat" from the movie:

Courtesy of MarcosCohen on YouTube

Since The Pajama Game was so enjoyable, I'm planning on seeing their next production, Joseph and the Amazing Techicolor Dreamcoat in December.