Romance that finds a way in the end.
Classic dance numbers.
The Pajama Game has it all.
“The Pajama Game is from the Golden age of American musicals, and as with many that had been made into movies, I first saw it on television growing up in the 1970s. I still remember how captivated I was by ‘Once a Year Day’, ‘Steam Heat’ and ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’. It played a key part in why I fell in love with musicals, so I am now absolutely delighted to direct and design such a fabulous and iconic show”, says Richard Perdriau, director and designer of OSMaD’s upcoming production.
Perdriau is joined by Ben Hudson as musical director, and choreographer Louisa Mitchell. As a production team, they have worked together before. “I’ve been involved with OsMad since it’s beginning and the company are like family”, says Hudson. “Richard and Lou are a dream to work with. This is our third collaboration and we work very well together, often knowing what each of us are going to say before we actually say it”.
Having premiered on Broadway in 1954, The Pajama Game is now well and truly a part of the musical theatre canon. “This is a musical that was set when it was first written”, continues Perdriau. “The challenge was to find a new angle to present it with, but to still be respectful of the original work. The advantage we have is that of hindsight. We can now take a look back and see it through a different lens. I believe we have done that”.
Legendary choreographer Bob Fosse created the dances in the original Broadway run, and these moves are now rooted firmly in the minds of theatre goers. “From a choreographic point of view, it is hard to approach really iconic numbers like ‘Steam Heat’, reflects Mitchell. ‘People have an idea in their head of how it should look, so it can be challenging to find a balance between being true to that style while still being creative and innovative with the choreography’.
Every production team in every company seeks to put their stamp upon each show they do. When one person wears the hats of director and designer, the overall vision of the show can be coherent from the moment the curtain rises until the last note is played. In crafting the looking of the show, Perdriau became fascinated with 1950s advertisments – “America’s economy was booming at the time. Americans had been living with the bare essentials for two decades through the Great Depression and the War, but the 50’s brought a huge array of new products that would modernise their lives. Advertising went into overdrive, creating a culture that made Americans want more things, better things, and newer things. This formed the basis of my vision for reimagining the show for 2016 audiences. We take look back at the lives of the Sleep Tite pajama factory employees of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the lives that aspired to have if they could only win their seven and a half cent pay rise”.
That all too critical 7½ cents was the title of the book upon which The Pajama Game was based, and it is the moment in the show to which Mitchell most looks forward – “I really enjoy the song Seven and a Half cents. It is very joyful with a triumphant feel, and I think the cast really let loose and enjoy themselves”.
The company have been putting in the long hours to get the show ready for its preview night on Thursday October 13th. Asked to describe how the cast have been to work with, Hudson’s response is simple: “In a word: wonderful. They are a very responsive group of people who are putting their all into the production. In particular, Emily McKenzie (Babe) and Nathan Wright (Sid) have spent a lot of time working on the style of show. Emily’s last show was Wicked which draws on very contemporary styles, whereas Nathan’s go-to voice is more classical. Our job was to bring the two styles together for a more measured music theatre sound”.
If you’ve never seen this show at all before, OSMaD’s season is your chance. And why should you go? “The Pajama Game is truly is one of Broadway’s great musical comedies”, states Perdriau. “Full of memorable songs, terrific characters, and a story that is embedded in 1950s American culture. You will walk out with a smile on your face humming a happy tune”.
OSMaD’s The Pajama Game runs from October 13-22.
Tickets are available from http://www.stagecenta.com/BkShowBooking.aspx?showid=3163