COURTESY PALIKU THEATRE
"Babe" Williams (Tricia Marciel), center, is flanked by coworkers at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Co., where she fights for employee rights as head of the union grievance committee, in "The Pajama Game," staged by Paliku Theatre through Sept. 16.
Paliku Theatre's delightful new production is light and fluffy and won't induce sleep
With Tricia Marciel and Lance Wheeler * a perfect fit as the leads, a talented supporting cast, and great work by musical director Clarke Bright and Lloyd Riford III on set and lighting, Paliku Theatre's late-summer production of "The Pajama Game" is delightful escapist entertainment.
'The Pajama Game'
On stage: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; through Sept. 16
Place: Paliku Theatre, Windward Community College
Tickets: $26; $22 seniors, military, UH faculty and staff; $18 students and children
Call: 235-7310 or visit eTicketHawaii.com
There are no great political or social issues in play here, just a delightful trip back to a time when 7.5 cents had buying power and people were willing to work together to defuse conflicts.
Would that the increasing bitter debate over ferry service to the neighbor islands be resolved so easily!
Sid Sorokin, newly hired superintendent of the Sleep-Tite Pajama Co. factory, is determined to prove himself the right man for the job, but finds himself romantically attracted to "Babe" Williams, head of the union grievance committee. Babe anticipates the dangers of a relationship with someone in management, but finds herself falling for Sid anyway.
Babe takes Sid's side when a lazy worker falsely accuses Sid of punching him, but doesn't hesitate to sacrifice their relationship when her duty to the union requires it.
Marciel (Babe) distinguished herself in "Kiss Me, Kate" and "West Side Story" at Army Community Theatre in 2004, and in Diamond Head Theatre's production of "Lend Me a Tenor" in February. She does so again here.
Marciel is convincingly girlish and giddy when Babe is teased about the budding relationship ("I'm Not at All in Love"), but equally believable in scenes where Babe sets her feelings aside to fight for the 7.5 cent pay raise.
Wheeler makes his local debut a memorable one as Sid. His size gives him the physical presence of a leading man, and he has a perfect voice for the job as well. Wheeler takes possession of the role with his first big number, "A New Town is a Blue Town," and builds on it with each scene that follows.
Director Ron Bright excels at staging mainstream Broadway musicals and works his magic with this one. The characters are engaging, the actors handle the colorful '50s slang with ease, and although the dance numbers are sometimes longer than necessary the story never loses momentum.
Bright has assembled a talented supporting cast. Glen Corlin (Myron "Old Man" Hassler) skillfully develops the insensitive and dangerously flawed factory owner, and Allan J.N. Lau (Prez) provides much of the comic content with his deadpan delivery as the linguistically challenged union president.
Heather Ensley (Gladys) is scene-stealing as the target of Prez's sexual advances. Ensley plays the scene, and sings her half of "Her Is," with a sassy, vivacious charm that makes the scene a highlight. Ensley is also convincing in a much darker scene when Gladys is torn between her duty to the company and humanitarian concerns.
Aubrey Lee Glover (Mae), a comedienne with a natural gift for physical comedy, joins Lau to make "Her Is (Reprise)" a bright moment of light risqué comedy.
Tracy Yamamoto (Mabel) and Patrick E. Torres (Vernon Hines) join Ensley in "Jealousy Ballet," a beautifully choreographed fantasy number about trust, love and marriage. Yamamoto and Torres are assets elsewhere as well.
Katherine L. Jones (Brenda) stars in an overly long staging of "Steam Heat" that retards the forward motion of the story in Act II. Jones does all she can with Derek Daniels' choreography but the number never reaches the boiling point.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Lance Wheeler starred as Sid Sorokin in Paliku Theatre's production of "The Pajama Game." He was misidentified in a review on Page 6 of last week's HiLife section.
Please see the applicable Corrections
page for more information.