Playing with pyjamas


Being the Singing Librarian is often quite a busy thing to be, as I tend to have more than one project on the go at once.  Plus the day job, of course, which takes up plenty of time and energy itself.  At the moment, I’m rehearsing for two different shows (in some ways quite a light load for me!).  One of these is a 1950s musical which was a big hit in its day but seems relatively forgotten now, The Pajama Game.  The theme of the show (or, I suppose, the excuse for the inevitable 1950s musical love stories) is that a group of pyjama factory workers are growing increasingly disgruntled that their employer has failed to give them a seven and a half cents per hour pay rise which is rapidly becoming industry standard.  A strike is contemplated, and alternative forms of industrial action embarked upon, which makes the show somewhat timely given the recent announcement of a very long strike by British Airways employees.  But the reason for going to see the show is the music, which includes a couple of well-known standards: ‘Hey There’ (“you with the stars in your eyes…”) and ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’, plus some big toe-tapping numbers including ‘Steam Heat’. Here’s a taste from the recent Broadway revival, including my personal favourite from the score, ‘There Once Was a Man’:

My role in the show (where I am currently the youngest man in the cast by quite a margin) is Prez, the youthful union president at the pyjama factory.  I secured this role through the incredible feat of being the only man of approximately the right age to decide to do the show, let alone audition – well done, me…  Prez thinks he’s quite the ladies man, but the evidence suggests that he  really, really isn’t.  Unlike many of my younger roles, though, there is a real chance that Prez could get the girl by the end of the show – given that he tries it on with (I think) six different ladies, the odds are surely in his favour.  Being ‘the young man’ means I do plenty of racing around in the chorus, get pulled across the stage on a rope (you’ll have to come and see the show if you want to know why) and generally have to be quite energetic.  In addition to ensemble numbers, I have a duet which crops up twice, both times with that terrifying accompaniment – a dance break.  Because I like a challenge and life likes to challenge me, the dances are not the same for me, making the task of communicating with my wayward limbs even trickier.  I am well aware that dance is my weakest musical theatre skill, but it’s a wonderful feeling when you get it right.  At the moment, I can happily recite the moves in time to the music, but whether I can actually do them is another matter entirely.

The Pajama Game is most definitely old-fashioned, but it is good fun and should raise plenty of laughs.  It’s being performed at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury,which I think is the venue I’ve performed in most often.  Great acoustics, an attractive bar area and friendly staff – who could ask for more?

    • steve
    • December 18th, 2009

    what is the other show? or will all be revealed later?

    • All will be revealed when I’ve finished writing the next post… No panto this year, though, I’m afraid!

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