The Pajama Game
Some settings are inherently romantic. A tropical island. A villa in Italy. A pajama factory in Iowa.
The Pajama Game is a quirky, charming musical about an unlikely romance between Sid (Ryan Rothchild), the ambitious new superintendent of the Sleep Tite pajama factory, and Babe (Heather Dornoff), an assembly line worker and union organizer.
Sid and Babe face a larger problem than most workplace couples—they are on opposing sides of a nasty labor dispute. When the union petitions for a 7.5 cent raise which the management can’t afford, Babe takes it upon herself to bring the factory down from the inside. She and Sid are forced to choose between their love and doing what they feel is right.
Although the topic of labor relations is weighty, the show is lighthearted and fun. Playwrights Richard Adler and Jerry Ross skim the surface of the subject, derive humor from comic supporting characters, and find a way to resolve the conflict in which neither side has to lose. Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company pulls the show off quite well.
Rothchild and Dornoff are strong actors and have pipes fit for musical theater. Rothchild has a cool, confident voice reminiscent of early Sinatra. Dornoff, meanwhile, courageously hits notes that most vocalists would fear. They are backed by a decent supporting cast. Although there is some overacting among minor characters, it’s easy to forgive actors who are obviously having fun.
The songs are clever and appropriately hummable. As an English major, I found the grammatically irresponsible song “Her Is” a bit grating, but it was the exception in an otherwise solid score.
The script is witty and well-written in some places, redundant in others. The major themes are explained so many times that nobody could miss them. This makes for mass market appeal, but may frustrate those who prefer subtlety.
Feminists and human resources managers should be forewarned that The Pajama Game makes light of workplace behaviors that today would be called sexual harassment. Male managers flirt with female subordinates. Comments about women’s appearances and the occasional pinch are part of daily life.
The Pajama Game is not a tale of epic proportions. It’s a cute little musical, and there is simply no reason it should be three hours long. The chairs in the Carson City Community Center are not terribly comfortable, and after about an hour and a half, I was torn between enjoying the show and wishing I had circulation in my legs.
The length of the show can be partially attributed to superfluous dance numbers. There are at least two troupes of dancers who have no relevance to the plot, but are given plenty of stage time. I don’t know whether these scenes were part of the script or added on, but I found them tedious despite the dancers doing a decent job.
On the whole, The Pajama Game is the theatrical equivalent of cotton candy—not too heavy on substance, but sweet, fluffy and enjoyable.