April 17, 2009
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
There''s trouble brewing on the pajama factory floor, and only delicate negotiations will quell it. But while the leader of the union grievance committee and the handsome new factory superintendent square off -- and fall in love -- the audience can count on "The Pajama Game" to entertain with Broadway-style show numbers at Heritage Academy April 24-26.
More than 100 students are participating in the musical comedy that won the Tony Award in 1954 for Best Musical, and again in 2006 for Best Revival of a Musical.
The play, set in the early ''50s, is based on the novel "7 1/2 Cents," by Richard Bissell. It encompasses "romance, intrigue and a little bit of corporate action," says director Marilyn Fields, who is also the elementary classroom music teacher at Heritage and a longtime piano instructor as well.
The original Broadway musical, with choreography by Bob Fosse, starred Janis Paige and John Raitt (Bonnie''s dad) and a relatively unknown understudy, Shirley MacLaine. In the Heritage production, senior Sam Jones, as factory boss "Sid Sorokin," and junior Rachel Burttram, as "Babe," the union representative, find themselves on opposite sides of the bargaining table.
The Richard Adler/Jerry Ross score leans more toward show tunes than the vintage rock and roll of Heritage''s past productions and offers the cast a fresh outlet.
"This play isn''t as familiar to the students as some of the others we''ve done -- like ''Grease'' or ''Bye Bye Birdie'' -- but the parts have really fallen into place. They (students) always live up to what you think they can do."
The cast is comprised of about 50 high school students and three dozen elementary-age children, said Fields. Marion McEwen, a Heritage alumna, serves as choreographer; the set designer is Karen Cooley. About 20 more high school students work on technical and backstage crews.
"This play is definitely funnier than any other one we''ve done," enthuses senior Mary Margaret Alexander, who portrays "Gladys," a secretary. "The dialogue is hilarious and the musical numbers are great. Anyone would enjoy it, whether they have someone in the play or not."
Performances will be Friday, April 24, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, April 25, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, April 26, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10, or $7 for students, at the door. (Prices are set by the production company). Tickets may also be purchased in advance at the school office. For more information, contact the school at 662-327-5272.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.