Fringe Box



Stage Dragon Review: The Pajama Game At The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 12 Jun, 2019
Updated on: 12 Jun, 2019

By Ferenc Hepp

This week, Guildford’s Performance Preparation Academy returns to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre with their fourth summer production, The Pajama Game, a musical based on the 1953 novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell.

The music and lyrics are by Richard Adler and Jerry Rosown, and this performance is directed by Lucy Stewart. The original Broadway production opened in 1954 and the original West End production opened at the London Coliseum in 1955 where it ran for 588 performances.

It returned to Broadway in 2006 where it won a Tony award for Best Revival of a Musical that year.

The plot focuses on a dispute over pay between the workers and the managers in a pyjama factory where the labour force are demanding a seven-and-a-half cent raise and in the midst of this drama, an unusual love affair surfaces between the leader of the grievance committee (Babe) and the new factory superintendent (Sid).

A rather atmospheric dark and smokey 1950s factory setting designed by Louise Pieri greets us on curtain up. This remains the setting throughout, with other bits of scenery flown in or brought in later to represent other scenes such as an office, a kitchen and Hernando’s Hideaway.

Pieri also designed the costumes and their colour and style provides us with a perfect contrast against the grey metallic background.

This is a large cast and it is obvious that a lot of work has gone into creating the 1950s looks; there were just a few boys whose hair styles were possibly a little too modern for the era.

At the opening night the role of Sid was played by Oli Dickson and Babe was played by Ellie Sharpe. The chemistry between the two is clear from the start and both young actors skilfully develop this relationship throughout the show.

Both their singing voices are highly polished and would be perfectly suitable for a West End stage, beautifully demonstrated by Sid’s first solo A New Town Is A Blue Town and Babe’s first song with the ensemble I’m Not At All In Love.

The ensemble is very large in number and therefore the stage does feel rather crowded for some of the group numbers, but the choreography by Sarah Day does make use of every bit of available space and executed by the cast in a very energetic and entertaining manner. A highlight is Once A Year Day, which was received very enthusiastically by the loyal audience before the interval.

Performance Preparation Academy are becoming one of the major forces in drama training with more and more success stories from graduates in professional theatre. This cast, under the very capable direction of Lucy Stewart, has demonstrated this with their hard work, professionalism and talent. I see a bright future ahead.

The Pajama Game runs until Saturday, June 15 and tickets are available via the website: or by calling the box office on 01483 440000.

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