In photo: Cast members for Marshwood High School’s upcoming production of The Pajama Game are clockwise from left: clockwise from top left: Skyler Amsden, Trevor Stanley, Max Tullgren, Kaia Lontine-Kearson, Ethan Martin and Ava Magoon. [Photo/Courtesy of Marshwood High School]
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — Plenty of “Steam Heat” is being generated at Marshwood High School as cast and crew members prepare for this year’s spring musical, “The Pajama Game,” which opens March 31.
In this toe-tapping, comedic love story, conditions at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory are anything but peaceful when sparks fly between new superintendent, Sid Sorokin, and Babe Williams, leader of the union grievance committee. Their stormy relationship comes to a head when the workers strike for a 7½-cent pay increase, setting off not only a conflict between management and labor, but a battle of the sexes as well.
Director Tanya West has enjoyed the adventure of visiting 1954 and experiencing the history. She found that the entire cast and crew has appreciated researching the fashion, interior design, pop art, music and more. “We have done multiple shows set in the 1950’s so I was looking for a new spin. That’s when the concept of 1950s pop art came into play, not only with paintings but with signs and props as well. Even how we approached character development was impacted by the cartoon, over-exaggerated feel,” she said.
The Pajama Game is a musical based on the Richard Bissell novel, “7½ Cents.” The original Broadway production opened in May 1954. The Pajama Game was awarded the 1955 Tony Award for Best Musical and Warner Brothers released a film version in 1957. Over half of a century later, it claimed the award for Best Revival of a Musical in 2006, proving that the story is truly timeless.
Marshwood High School junior Ava Magoon, who plays Babe Williams, leader of the union grievance committee previously played by Doris Day in the movie version, said the production exceeded her expectations. “Each character brings a wild element to the story and it has been so exciting watching my fellow cast members and friends navigate their way through these fictitious, though strikingly realistic personas,” she said.
Magoon said playing the role of Babe was both a challenging and rewarding experience. “I believe I have grown both as a performer and as a person throughout this entire process,” she said.
With an energetic score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (Damn Yankees), “The Pajama Game” is brimming with songs and dances that have become musical theater standards, including “Steam Heat,” “Hey There,” “There Once Was a Woman” and “Hernando’s Hideaway.”
Senior Ethan Martin, who plays the character of Sid Sorokin, can’t believe this will be the last production of his high school acting career. “I began performing in Marshwood Theater as a third grader in “Bye Bye Birdie” and I am very thankful for all the opportunities Ms. West has given me. The brilliant acting, comedic timing, and musicality of the cast of ‘The Pajama Game’ leaves me with no doubt that this show will be one to remember,” he said.
Performances of “The Pajama Game” will be at 7 p.m. on March 31, April 1, April 7 and April 8 in the Wesley E. Kennedy Performing Arts Center at Marshwood High School. Tickets are available by calling 207-384-4500 or online at marshwoodmusic.org.