The Pajama Game
The Fair Oaks Theatre Festival is an annual summertime treat. Presented in collaboration with American River College Theatre, the festival presents musical comedies performed in the pleasant—and constantly being improved upon—open-air theater at the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater.
The sound system still needs some fixing, as there were plenty of crackles and lots of lost dialogue during the opening performance of
The Pajama Game, a sweet, old favorite of 1950s musical theater. A new superintendent at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory has an almost-immediate run-in with Babe Williams, leader of the union grievance committee. Gordon Hanley and Christianne Klein play the sparring couple, and they are delightfully well-matched as actors, although she is by far the better singer. The plot reveals some illicit workplace relationships, some cooking of the books and a union strike as workers demand a 7.5-cent per hour raise. Based on the novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell, the play has music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.
Bob Irvin directs with his characteristic feel for how comedy should be played, but he surprises this time out by playing it straight. There’s no campiness, no exaggeration for effect, just a light, old-fashioned musical comedy. A live band provides accompaniment to the songs, which include the classic “Hey There” as well as “Steam Heat” and “Hernando’s Hideaway.”