'The Pajama Game' promises pure fun

Friday, February 17, 2012

It is a classic battle of the sexes. It is also a battle over a 7 1/2-cent pay raise. Southeast Missouri State University's Department of Theatre and Dance will bring George Abbott's fast-paced farce "The Pajama Game" to the main stage in the Bedell Performance Hall at the River Campus.

Sid Sorokin, played by Jacob Buckenmyer, is the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory's new superintendent who falls in love with Babe Williams, the leader of the union grievance committee, played by Samantha Gross. A pay raise creates not only a battle of the sexes, but war between workers and management.

"Boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl," director Dr. Kenneth Stilson said. "It is the plot of so many musical theater romantic comedies. It is the music and the telling of the story through the visuals that make it unique."

The Tony Award-winning romantic comedy is also special because of the energy created onstage.

"It is a big spectacle," Buckenmyer said. "It's a legacy on Broadway, and it is an interesting, fun show that provides a way to get away from it all."

Jacob Buckenmyer, right, plays Sid Sorokin, who falls in love with Babe Williams. His secretary, Mable, played by Carley Barle, tries to talk to him about the broken engagement between Babe and an ex-lover. (Kelso Hope ~ Arrow)

The cast list includes 43 students, which makes it one of the largest shows ever done at the River Campus. The lead roles are Sid and Babe, but many other characters bring their own stories to the stage.

"I like Hines," Stilson said. "His plot is very funny to me. He has some wonderful songs that he is the center of. He is the one with the stopwatch, the floor manager. His storyline is really charming."

Stilson said the music in "The Pajama Game" is the kind that will get stuck in your head. Like the rest of the show, it is meant to be fun and exciting for the audience.

"The music is my favorite part of the show," Buckenmyer said. "Even if you aren't familiar with the show itself, you might recognize some of the songs."

The show is highly visual. It has big scenery and choreography. Michelle Contrino is the choreographer of the River Campus production. The original choreography was done by Bob Fosse, a famous choreographer who got his big break on Broadway with this musical.

The original director, George Abbott, was also one of the most famous of his time, with this show being one of his greatest successes.

"It's pure, farce entertainment," Stilson said. "The energy infects the audience. I promise people will have a great time when they come see it."

"The Pajama Game" will begin at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22, 23 and 25, at 8 p.m. Feb. 24 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 26. Tickets are $3 with a Southeast ID and range from $17 to $20 for the public. They can be purchased at the River Campus box office or rivercampusevents.com.

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