Uneven Opening to THE PAJAMA GAME

by Walter Bender
Union worker Babe (Robin Richardson) and factory manager Sid (Corey Buller) mix business and pleasure. (Photo Credit: Robin Goodfellow Web Designs)

Union worker Babe (Robin Richardson) and factory manager Sid (Corey Buller) mix business and pleasure. (Photo Credit: Robin Goodfellow Web Designs)

King of Prussia Players opened their latest offering, THE PAJAMA GAME to a small but enthusiastic audience at the Shannondell Performing Arts Theater in Audubon. THE PAJAMA GAME is the classic musical about the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, on the verge of a strike as the factory workers seek a 7½ cent pay increase (I did say it was a CLASSIC musical!) The new plant superintendent Sid (Corey Buller) is interested in factory worker/union stalwart Babe (Robin Richardson.) The factory efficiency expert Hines (Ben Fried) is in love with the company president’s secretary Gladys (Patty Mayer), but is insanely jealous. The union rep Prez (Philip Seader) is interested in…well, a number of women, but he’s married. And the company president Mr. Hasler (Clark van Hekken) is in love with money. Throw all of this into a mixer, add a number of familiar songs, and shake vigorously.

As stated in my title, the evening’s entertainment was uneven. First the good news…Buller as Sid and Richardson as Babe entertained the audience throughout the evening. Both have lovely voices and can really belt out a song. (Tempering that note, they also tend to belt even during a ballad…back it off a bit, please?) They have a pleasant chemistry, and you end up hoping they can resolve their differences and get together. Seader also gave a good performance as Prez, the philandering union rep…he was lecherous without being obnoxious, and did some fun physical slapstick. Mayer’s Gladys showed some great dancing skills, especially during “Steam Heat.”The dancing in the production numbers looked well choreographed and rehearsed, albeit a bit lengthy at times. The overall pace of the show was good, keeping the action moving, which is essential in the more classic pieces, as they are quite lengthy.

There were, however, a number of things that made this production uneven. While none of the issues were awful, the sum total of the weaknesses made for an overall sloppy opening. Start with the orchestra…musicians, please note: playing your tuning note louder than everyone else doesn’t mean you are in tune. Please listen to each other and tune your instruments properly…at times it was painful listening to the overture. The production numbers were uneven as well…the first couple bars of each chorus entrance were tentative, as the chorus seemed to be unsure of when to start singing. There were several of the characters that didn’t feel right…the lines were all correct, the blocking was fine, but there seemed to be a disconnect between the actor and the material, as if the performer didn’t really understand his/her character. Hopefully with the repetition in front of live audiences, these issues will clear up.

Based on the novel “7 ½ Cents” by Richard Bissell
Music and Lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
Directed by Joe Ciresi, Assistant Director John Charles
Music Director Keith S. Clattenburg, Choreographer Nicole Mesiano
March 1-9, 2013
King of Prussia Players
Performing at the Shannondell Performing Arts Theater
Audubon PA

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