By Pat Jenkins
The Dispatch
Have you slipped into “The Pajama Game?” No? You’re not alone, although The 5th Avenue is doing its best to change that with its current production of the high-spirited musical comedy.
Winner of the Tony Award in 1955 for Best Musical, “The Pajama Game” today is what David Armstrong, The 5th’s executive producer and artiistic director, categorizes as one of those “mid-century” classics that most theathergoers haven’t seen or heard of and deserves to be in the bright lights of the stage.
He’s right on both counts. The Blll Berry-directed production that continues through March 5 is a fun and mostly fast-paced package that surely would meet with the approval of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, who did the music and lyrics for the original based on Richard Bissell’s novel, “71/2 Cents.”
The central characters are the upper management, workers and union leaders at the Sleep Tite Pajama factory, where there’s a move afoot to win a raise for the union members. At the same time, the new superintendent and the head of the workers’ grievance committee are falling madly in love, which is no easy feat given the uneasy labor climate and their disparate roles in it. But love wins out, as does the union, during roughly two and a half hours of high-quality singing and choreography with a touch of bawdiness.
Josh Davis plays Sid Sorokin, the driven but fair-minded supervisor, and Billie Wildrick is Babe Williams, the principled, feisty union loyalist. The appealing couple command the stage in their scenes together and most of the scenes they share with others. Davis and Williams are high-caliber stars.
A shout-out, too, to Shaunyce Omar, who is hilarious as Mabel, a front-office worker who isn’t afraid to speak her mind or strut her stuff.
One other note: Amid the levity, audience members who are sympathetic toward labor movements will find some relevancy between real-ilfe work situations and the quest of the Sleep Tite workforce for a living wage.