Love is in the air at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory as handsome new Superintendent Sid Sorokin falls head-over-heels for firebrand Union rep Babe Williams. But when the employees are refused a seven-and-a-half cents an hour raise, sparks fly and the couple find themselves deliciously at odds. Will love, eventually, conquer all in this delightful romantic comedy?
… The Pajama Game is in keeping with its recent musicals and if doesn't quite have the heft of previous productions, it's still energetically staged, with some decent numbers and neat comic touches… Fraser starts off hesitantly but quickly finds his feet... Riding captures the sparkiness of a union organizer and sings well enough but they're a curiously unromantic couple, with little real spark… There are far brighter performances… The show is briskly directed by Richard Eyre and snappily choreographed by Stephen Mear. Chichester seems to have developed a production line of its own when it comes to musicals and this is, on the whole, a fine addition to its list of recent successes.
…It’s a show sizzling with hit songs, the positive energy from which supercharges proceedings right from the opening moments… There’s ease, grace and loveliness in every scene and he’s greatly aided by some cherishably limber choreography from Stephen Mear in a number of eye-catching set-pieces. These employees do so much dancing that it must be a welcome relief when they eventually sit down to work. Fraser and Riding sing strongly and produce convincing sparks of mutual attraction and are buoyed by a host of finely tuned supporting turns. Claire Machin is a sassy secretary in the boss’s office and Peter Polycarpou a perilous knife-thrower of a jealous lover. It’s unimprovably good. Hello again West End, I’d say.
...Claire Machin tips the wink delectably as Mabel, the well-groomed, comfortably proportioned secretary... Is The Pajama Game in the top ten great American musicals, as Eyre contends? To my mind, the show bears the same relation to that status as a bag of plums does to a great fruit cake. But then again, what a succession of highlights it offers. A tinselly camp “Hernando's Hideaway”, a drolly sizzling “Steam Heat”, Hadley Fraser singing to his own dictaphone-recorded voice in the lovely “Hey There (You With The Stars in Your Eyes)” are among the pleasures of a production that feels a bit hyperactive for the intimate space at the moment and should be even more pleasurable when it has had time to calm down a bit.
…Adler and Ross’s The Pajama Game is, plotwise, full of political hokum but this production, directed by Sir Richard Eyre, conceals some of the gaping flaps with its pzazz… Mr Fraser has a rich voice, good looks, a hint of Jimmy Stewart in his accent. Miss Riding’s voice could do with a squirt of oil in the first half… Lots of the secondary parts are done with vim. Peter Polycarpou is on fine form as a knife-throwing time and motion man, jealous of his girlfriend (Alexis Owen-Hobbs, all legs, chest, flat tummy and a nylon-looking blonde wig)… The action is such fun that you can almost ignore the gross exaggeration of the ‘wicked bosses, heroic workers’ plot…
…Studio productions of big musicals can refocus them sharply, but this one sometimes seems over-busy on this tight stage, though it is resourcefully designed by Tim Hatley… And Stephen Mear offers characteristic choreographic invention that tips a hat (in every sense) to original Broadway choreographer Bob Fosse… and the equally steamy Alexis Owen-Hobbs dancing up a storm accompanied by two appropriately angular male dancers… There are fantastic numbers like “Hey There” and “A New Town is a Blue Town” (both feelingly sung by Fraser, who is a treat in and out of pajamas), and a hilarious comic turn from the wonderful Peter Polycarpou that virtually steals the show…