Over at Theatreisms, Katie is in the midst of her month of musicals and a couple weeks ago, she shared her thoughts after listening to The Pajama Game.
While I knew some of the songs and I was vaguely familiar with the plot, I'd never seen the show. So I put the 1957 movie at the top of my Netflix queue. On a crisp fall night, who doesn't like to snuggle up in front of the tv with a pair of warm, comfy pjs?
The movie version of the 1954 musical about labor strife at the Sleep-Tite pajama factory stars Doris Day and John Raitt. Day is feisty union activist Catherine "Babe" Williams and Raitt, reprising his Broadway role, is the handsome, stern new factory superintendent, Sid Sorokin. Day and Raitt spar then fall in love then spar some more then fall in love some more against the backdrop of workers fighting for their 7 1/2-cents-per-hour raise.
I really enjoyed The Pajama Game. It's a very sweet musical with lots of humor, intricately choreographed dance numbers and more than a whiff of nostalgia. I mean, do they even make pajamas in the United States anymore? Let's face it, nowadays, the factory would probably close down before giving the workers their raise. (Plus, I spent one summer working in a factory and I don't think any of the women wore high heels!)
And when the workers sing about getting their raise, they figure out that in five years they'll have a grand total of an extra $852.74, enough to get:
"An automatic washing machine,
A years supply of gasoline,
Carpeting for the living room,
A vacuum instead of a blasted broom,
Not to mention a forty inch television set!"
So, the love story is nice and there are lots of funny, quirky secondary characters and great songs by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, including the beautiful and sad "Hey There." But for me the main reason to watch this movie is Bob Fosse's amazing choreography.
For someone who loves big dance numbers, The Pajama Game really is a joy to watch. And I can't believe how many of them there are in this movie. My favorites include "Racing with the Clock" in the opening factory scene, "Once a Year Day" at the annual company picnic, "Steam Heat" at the union meeting and "7 1/2 Cents" at the labor rally. Okay, I love them all.
Usually, when I see a movie musical, I'm impressed by the way the choreography is bigger, bolder, even more elaborate, featuring more performers and taking me to locations that you can't get to in the theatre.
But The Pajama Game is one musical where I thought, wow, I'd love to be sitting in the orchestra and watching these numbers on a Broadway stage, feeling the energy of a crowded theatre, instead of sitting by myself in my apartment. (Unless I had a 103-inch plasma TV with surround sound, of course.)
The original Broadway production of The Pajama Game opened on May 13, 1954, and ran for 1,063 performances, winning the 1955 Tony award for Best Musical. Since then, there have been two revivals, the last one produced by The Roundabout Theatre Company in 2006 and starring Kelli O'Hara and Harry Connick Jr. I wish I'd been able to see that show.
Unfortunately, there probably won't be another revival for quite some time. But I know these things tend to come around again and again. Next time, I'll be ready.