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Theater Review : ‘Pajama Game’ Lapses Into Lullaby of Broadway

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When Richard Adler and Jerry Ross’ “The Pajama Game” opened in New York in 1954, it was the brightest, brashest, freshest musical Broadway had seen in many seasons.

Despite solid work from the cast, the Lake Forest II Showboaters’ production of this show, about union and management shenanigans at the Sleep-Tite Pajama factory, is quite tired, not at all brash or fresh.

Leesa DiLallo is a fine Babe, head of the union grievance committee. She has a sure voice with a burnished tone that’s just right for her powerful songs.

Though Peter Deutschman sings well as new superintendent Sid, at times it sounds as if he would be more comfortable in a lower key. But they’re a good Babe and Sid, who eventually find love in spite of being on opposite sides of the struggle.

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Rita Turchetta’s Gladys is often funny, as she should be, but Turchetta would be more effective playing her comedy at a less histrionic level. The light of her love, “time-study man” Hines, is played by Roy Fussell with more restraint, and he gets his laughs more honestly: through character.

The rest of the company tries hard, but they are at the mercy of Neal Visser’s turgid direction, with pauses you could drive a bus through. They are also hampered throughout by leisurely tempos taken by musical director Jeffrey Nottke, who forgets that Broadway ballads need pep and that bright tempos help singers immeasurably.

*

Sid’s and Babe’s “There Once Was a Man” is the only number that ever gets up to steam, and DiLallo and Deutschman seem grateful for finally being able to give their all. Toni Colley’s admirable choreography is a plus, in spite of slow tempos.

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The show’s biggest problem is its uncredited scenic design. The group is simply unable to reverse its large walls in an efficient amount of time. Waits between scenes are longer than most of the musical numbers, and the show’s three-hour length could have been considerably shortened by simplifying the design. A whole room does not have to be built to let the audience know where they are.

* “The Pajama Game,” Lake Forest II Sun & Sail Club, Lake Forest Drive and Toledo Way, Lake Forest. Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m., Sunday, 7 p.m. Ends Sunday. $9. (714) 837-0229. Running time: 3 hours. Peter Deutschman: Sid

Leesa DiLallo: Babe

Rita Turchetta: Gladys

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Roy Fussell: Hines

A Lake Forest II Showboaters production of the Richard Adler-Jerry Ross musical. Book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell, adapted from Bissell’s novel. Produced by Cheryl Bartetzko. Directed by Neal Visser. Musical director: Jeffrey Nottke. Choreographer: Toni Colley. Stage manager: Ellen Phillips.


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