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This 'Pajama Game' plays out with old-school charm

This 'Pajama Game' plays out with old-school charm
The cast of Musical Theatre Guild's "The Pajama Game" does not disappoint. (Alan Weston)

It was a once-a-year day at the Alex Theatre on Sunday, when Musical Theatre Guild closed its 20th anniversary season with a triumphant staged concert edition of "The Pajama Game."

Richard Adler, Jerry Ross, George Abbott and Richard Bissell's classic 1954 musical comedy about love amid labor-management disputes in an Iowa sleepwear factory proved a fine fit for MTG. Indeed, once musical director Corey Hirsch's crack combo struck up a truncated but evocative overture, the titular garments hanging overhead, it was clear old-school delights were afoot.

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Under director Lewis Wilkenfeld's knowing eye, Abbott and Bissell's book and Adler and Ross' evergreen score played out with able spontaneity in the hands of the cast.

As romantic leads Sid Sorokin and Babe Williams, Damon Kirsche and Shannon Warne were ideal in energy, chemistry and vocal aplomb, from her laser-focused "I'm Not At All in Love" and his soaring "Hey There" to a steamy "Small Talk" and house-rattling "There Once Was a Man."

That force of musical theater nature, Jason Graae, had a field day as efficiency manager Hines. His soft-shoe maneuvers with ever-welcome Tracy Lore in "I'll Never Be Jealous Again" were delicious; his ad-libs with a recalcitrant pair of trousers in Act 2 defied rational description.

As did lithe Leslie Stevens' blend of wacky and sinuous, as Hines' inamorata, Gladys, particularly in choreographer Daniel Smith's sharp compression of the "Once-a-Year Day" ballet and Fosse-lifted "Steam Heat" with guest artists Cedric Dodd and Tanner Richins.

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For the Record

May 17, 8;54 a.m.: In an earlier version of this post Leslie Stevens' first name was misspelled as Lesley.

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And so it went, with John Massey delivering union leader Prez with Stubby Kaye-worthy gusto, Doug Carfrae giving factory owner Hasler a drolly cantankerous edge and the entire creme-brulee-of-the-crop ensemble digging into "Racing With the Clock," the flashlighted "Hernando's Hideaway" and the climactic "7 ½ Cents" (the title of Bissell's original novel and horns of the narrative dilemma).

The show had some fleeting microphone issues and an occasional late entrance. Such blips were part of a charming whole. "The Pajama Game" reminded us why this company is a local treasure as we hummed the tunes all the way home.

Follow the L.A. Times arts team on Twitter @culturemonster.

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