A 7.5 cents an hour raise may seem insignificant but at the Sleep Tite Pajama Factory, when the workers' demands for the raise go unheard, it leads them to strike against the factory head, Myron Hassler. The cast at North Hills was able to recreate this story with energetic group numbers and convincing scenery.
The larger numbers like "Once a Year Day" and "Steam Heat" were the most interesting to watch. The choreography was cute and typical for a high school musical, and when accompanied with splendid vocals, the group numbers added life to the production.
Sid Sorokin is the handsome new factory superintendent who falls in love with Babe Williams, the leader of the Union Grievance Committee, despite their being on opposite sides of the labor dispute. But the actors were unable to bring this central plot romance to life. Patrice Bailey (Babe) and Malcolm Burke (Sid) were both excellent singers. Burke's performance of "Hey There" had a really dreamy quality, and Bailey's "I'm Not At All in Love" was strong yet whimsical. However, as a couple the two lacked necessary chemistry, leaving the big duets somewhat awkward despite clear vocal talent.
The acting as a whole was stiff with one clear exception, Jared Bogolea as the factory timekeeper, Vernon Hines. Bogolea was very convincing. He was able to effortlessly portray jealousy as his girlfriend Gladys (Courtney Porto) comes off as very flirtatious. His genuine comedic performance was rewarded with sincere laughter from the audience.
Porto complimented Bogolea well, her flirtatiousness giving him plenty to be jealous about, and when she performed "Hernando's Hideaway" it was particularly sultry.
The rest of the acting was a bit uninspiring. The factory workers were neither extremely optimistic nor dejected by their working conditions and the impending strike.
One of the more spectacular elements of the production was the scenery. The Sleep Tite factory was bright, colorful, and above all realistic. The quality of the backdrop and props of the factory floor, from the sewing machines to the assembly line, is a clear example of the dedication of everyone involved in making the musical happen.
"The Pajama Game" ran March 14-23.
The Kelly Critics is a joint program of the Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musicals, in which students at Kelly schools review musicals at other Kelly schools. Reviews are edited by senior theater critic Christopher Rawson.