John Raitt, Janis Paige, Marion Colby, Thelma Pelish, and Buzz Miller
The Pajama Game
The Pajama Game is a musical based on the 1953 novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell. The book is by George Abbott and Richard Bissell; the music and lyrics are by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The story deals with labor troubles in a pajama factory, where workers’ demands for a seven-and-a-half cent raise are going unheeded. In the midst of this ordeal, love blossoms between Babe, the grievance committee head, and Sid, the new factory superintendent.
The original Broadway production opened on May 13, 1954, at the St. James Theatre, and ran for 1,063 performances, with a brief stop at the Shubert Theatre at the end of the run. It was revived in 1973, and again in 2006 by The Roundabout Theatre Company. The original production, produced by Frederick Brisson, Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince, won a Tony Award for Best Musical. The 2006 Broadway revival won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. The musical is a popular choice for community and school group productions.
The original West End production opened at the London Coliseum on October 13, 1955 where it ran for 588 performances.
May 13, 1954 – Nov 24, 1956 – Shubert Theatre/ St. James Theatre NYC Total Performances 1063
Dec 9, 1973 – Feb 3, 1974 – Lunt-Fontanne Theatre NYC 5 Previews Total Performances 65
Feb 23, 2006 – Jun 17, 2006 – American Airlines Theatre NYC 41 Previews Total Performances 129
The original Broadway production opened at the St. James Theatre on May 13, 1954, and closed on November 24, 1956, after 1,063 performances. It was directed by George Abbott and Jerome Robbins and featured choreography by Bob Fosse. The original cast included John Raitt, Janis Paige, Eddie Foy, Jr., Carol Haney, Ralph Dunn, Stanley Prager and Thelma Pelish.
This production is also noted for starting the career of Shirley MacLaine. A relative unknown at the time, she was selected to understudy Carol Haney’s role. Starting in late-May 1954, MacLaine filled the role for several months, as Haney was out of commission with an injured ankle. Director/producer Hal B. Wallis was an audience member at one of MacLaine’s performances, and signed her as a contract player for Paramount Pictures.
The Pajama Game opened at the London Coliseum on 13 October 1955 and ran for 588 performances – an undoubted hit. Edmund Hockridge played Sid Sorokin and Joy Nichols played Babe Williams. Max Wall, in a rare outing to the musical stage, played Hines, Elizabeth Seal, who later found stardom playing the lead role in Irma La Douce, played Gladys, and Frank Lawless played Prez.
The Australian production opened in Melbourne at Her Majesty’s Theatre on 2 February 1957. The cast was led by Toni Lamond as Babe Williams and William Newman as Sid Sorokin.  It subsequently toured through Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and New Zealand.
Hollywood Film, 1957
The film version was released by Warner Bros. in 1957 and featured the original stage cast except for Janis Paige, whose role is played by Doris Day, and Stanley Prager, whose role is played by Jack Straw.
Broadway Revival, 1973
A Broadway revival opened on December 9, 1973, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, but it closed on February 3, 1974, after just 65 performances. It was directed by George Abbott, one of the two directors of the original production in 1954, with choreography by Zoya Leporska. The cast included Hal Linden, Barbara McNair, and Cab Calloway as Hines.
West End, 1999
A West End revival arrived at the Victoria Palace in October 1999 having originated at Birmingham Rep and transferred to the Victoria Palace via Toronto. Directed by Simon Callow, it briefly starred Ulrika Johnson as Babe (Birmingham Rep), but she left the production when it travelled to Toronto where Babe was played by Camilla Scott, then in London, Leslie Ashe. Sid Sorokin was played by Graham Bickley throughout, earning himself a Dora Award nomination for ‘Outstanding Performance by a male in a Principal Role’ in Toronto. It also starred John Hegley and Anita Dobson with choreography by David Bintley. It closed on 18 December 1999.
The Roundabout Theatre Company revival, produced by special arrangement with Jeffrey Richards, James Fuld, Jr. and Scott Landis, opened on February 23, 2006 and closed on June 17, 2006, after 129 performances (and 41 previews). Kathleen Marshall was choreographer and director, with a cast starring Harry Connick, Jr., making his Broadway acting debut as Sid, Kelli O’Hara as Babe, Michael McKean as Hines, Roz Ryan as Mabel, and Megan Lawrence as Gladys. The revival included three added songs by Richard Adler. The original book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell was revised by Peter Ackerman (screenwriter Ice Age)
Chichester Festival Theatre & West End, 2013/2014
Directed by Richard Eyre, the UK 2013 revival of The Pajama Game opened on April 22 at Chichester Festival Theatre’s Minerva Theatre and the cast included television personality Gary Wilmot. The production’s sold out run at Chichester ended on 8 June 2013, and on 1 May 2014 it transferred to the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre. The West End transfer received positive reviews from a number of national media outlets. The production ran for a limited season at the Shaftesbury Theatre, closing on 13 September 2014.
A strike is imminent at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, where the workers churn out pajamas at a backbreaking pace (“Racing with the Clock”). In the middle of this, a new superintendent, Sid Sorokin, has come from out of town to work in the factory (“A New Town Is a Blue Town”). The union, led by Prez, is seeking a wage raise of seven-and-a-half cents an hour. Sid and Babe are in opposite camps, yet romantic interest is sparked at their first encounter. Despite cajoling from her fellow garment workers, Babe appears to reject Sid (“I’m Not At All in Love”). Meanwhile, Hines, the popular efficiency expert, is in love with Gladys, the company president’s secretary, but is pushing her away with his jealous behavior. After witnessing a fight between the couple, Sid’s secretary, Mabel, tries to help Hines break from his jealous ways (“I’ll Never Be Jealous Again”). Meanwhile, Sid, rejected again by Babe, is forced to confide his feelings to a dictaphone (“Hey There”).
During the annual company picnic, kicked off with the official Sleep-Tite Company Anthem, Prez chases after Gladys, who rejects his advances (“Her Is”), a drunken Hines demonstrates his knife throwing act (these knives are thrown at Babe), and Babe warms up to Sid (“Once a Year Day”). As the picnic-goers head home, Prez turns his attentions to Mae, who responds in the positive far more quickly and aggressively than he’d expected (“Her Is (Reprise)”). At Babe’s home, Sid’s romantic overtures are deflected by Babe, who makes casual conversation on tangential subjects (“Small Talk”). Eventually the walls come down between the two, who admit their love for one another (“There Once Was a Man”), but their estrangement is reinforced when they return to the factory. A slow-down is staged by the union, strongly supported by Babe (“Racing with the Clock (Reprise)”). Sid, as factory superintendent, demands an “honest day’s work” and threatens to fire slackers. Babe, however, is still determined to fight for their cause, and kicks her foot into the machinery, causes a general breakdown and Sid reluctantly fires her. As she leaves, he begins to wonder again whether a romance with her is a mistake (“Hey There (Reprise)”).
At the Union meeting, Gladys (Mae in the 2006 revival) performs for the rest of the union, with “the boys from the cutting room floor” (“Steam Heat”). After the main meeting, the Grievance Committee meets at Babe’s house, to discuss further tactics, such as mismatching sizes of pajamas and sewing the fly-buttons onto the bottoms such that they are likely to come off and leave their wearer pants-less. At the meeting, as Prez and Mae’s relationship is waning, Sid arrives and tries to smooth things over with Babe. Despite her feelings for Sid, she pushes him away (“Hey There (Reprise)”).
Back at the factory, the girls reassure Hines, who is personally offended by the slow down (“Think of the Time I Save”). Sid, now convinced that Babe’s championship of the union is justified, takes Gladys out for the evening to a night club, “Hernando’s Hideaway” (Hernando’s Hideaway), where he wheedles the key to the company’s books from her. Hines and Babe each discover the pair and assume they are becoming romantically involved. Babe storms out, and Hines believes his jealous imaginings have come true (“I’ll Never Be Jealous Again Ballet”).
Using Gladys’ key, Sid accesses the firm’s books and discovers that the boss, Hasler, has already tacked on the extra seven and one-half cents to the production cost, but has kept all the extra profits for himself.
In Gladys’ office, Hines, still jealous out of his mind, flings knives past Sid and Gladys (deliberately missing, he claims), narrowly missing an increasingly paranoid Mr. Hasler. After detaining Hines, Sid then brings about Hasler’s consent to a pay raise and rushes to bring the news to the Union Rally, already in progress (“7½ Cents”). This news brings peace to the factory and to his love life, allowing him to reconnect with Babe (“There Once Was a Man (Reprise)”). Everyone goes out to celebrate—at Hernando’s Hideaway (“Pajama Game”).
- Sid Sorokin, the handsome new factory superintendent who falls in love with Babe, despite their being on opposite sides of the labor dispute central to the plot.
- Katherine “Babe” Williams, the leader of the Union Grievance Committee, who falls in love with Sid.
- Myron “Old Man” Hasler, the strict head of the pajama factory who keeps a secret.
- Gladys Hotchkiss, Hasler’s attractive, quick-witted secretary, who dates Hines and is chased by Prez.
- Vernon Hines, the factory timekeeper, who thinks Gladys flirts too much and, as a result is always jealous.
- Prez, the head of the union and a skirt chaser, despite being a married man.
- Mabel, the mother hen of the factory and Sid’s secretary.
- Mae, a loud-mouthed member of the Grievance Committee, who accepts Prez’s advances, much to his surprise.
- Pop, Babe’s kind and agreeable father.
- Max, A salesman.
- Charley, a worker in the factory and the handyman.
- Joe, a factory worker and Prez’s right-hand man.
- Brenda, A member of the Grievance Committee.
- Virginia, a factory girl and union activist.
- Poopsie, a factory girl and union activist.
- Gus, an unhappy factory helper who Sid shoves.
Notes on the Music
Two of the songs, ‘There Once Was a Man’ and ‘A New Town Is a Blue Town,’ were actually written by Frank Loesser, although they were uncredited.
For the 2006 revival, Harry Connick, Jr., played the piano, when Gladys (Megan Lawrence), Sid, and Company were on stage for “Hernando’s Hideaway”. “The length and form of the song remain steady,” Kathleen Marshall said, “but he can improvise within it.”
In the original production, and in the film version, the famed dance number “Steam Heat” was danced by Gladys. In the 2006 revival, the number was made with Mae (Joyce Chittick), instead of Gladys. Kathleen Marshall explains: “Hines accuses Gladys of being a flirt, and she’s not. So does it make sense that she’d go and strut her stuff in front of the whole union? Hines would say, ‘Aha, you floozy, I caught you!’ Also, she’s the boss’s secretary, so why would she be at a union meeting? I think it’s much more fun that Gladys doesn’t really let go until she goes out with Sid, gets real drunk, and throws caution to the wind.”
New songs for the 2006 Revival
“The Three of Us (Me, Myself and I)”
Words and music by Richard Adler; in 2006, Hines (Michael McKean) performed the new number, “The Three of Us” at show’s end with Gladys (Megan Lawrence). At the time of the revival, Adler was quoted as saying that he wrote the song for Jimmy Durante in 1964. “It was written for Jimmy Durante,” says McKean, “and Durante used to do it in his act, but he never recorded it, so it’s kind of an orphan.” The song was actually featured in the 1966 television musical, Olympus 7-000, part of the ABC Stage 67 series which also produced Stephen Sondheim’s Evening Primrose. Eddie Foy, Jr. (who had played Hines in the original Broadway and movie versions of The Pajama Game) introduced the song in Olympus 7-000 and can be heard singing it on the Command Records soundtrack album. Donald O’Connor, Larry Blyden and Phyllis Newman also starred in the TV special with Foy.
“The World Around Us”
“The World Around Us” was part of the 1954 Broadway previews and opening, but was dropped during the first week of the Broadway run, replaced by Babe’s reprise of “Hey There”. This would leave Sid with no songs in the second act, aside from the reprise of “There Once was a Man”. The number was restored for the 2006 Broadway revival, allowing star Harry Connick, Jr., to have a second-act song.
“If You Win, You Lose”
Words and music by Richard Adler; for the 1973 revival, in place of the second-act “Hey There” reprise, there was a new song, “Watch Your Heart”. Retitled “If You Win, You Lose”, the song has been heard in recent productions of the show and was heard in the 2006 Broadway production.
Awards and Nominations
Original Broadway Production
|1955||Tony Award||Best Musical||Won|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Carol Haney||Won|
|Best Choreography||Bob Fosse||Won|
2006 Broadway Revival
|2006||Tony Award||Best Revival of a Musical||Won|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Harry Connick, Jr.||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical||Kelli O’Hara||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Megan Lawrence||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Kathleen Marshall||Nominated|
|Best Orchestrations||Dick Lieb and Danny Troob||Nominated|
|Best Scenic Design||Derek McLane||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Martin Pakledinaz||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Revival of a Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Harry Connick, Jr.||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Kelli O’Hara||Nominated|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Kathleen Marshall||Nominated|
|Outstanding Orchestrations||Danny Troob and Dick Lieb||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Design||Brian Ronan||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Revival of a Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Harry Connick, Jr.||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Kelli O’Hara||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Peter Benson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Megan Lawrence||Nominated|
|Outstanding Direction of a Musical||Kathleen Marshall||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costume Design||Martin Pakledinaz||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Harry Connick, Jr.||Won|
The summer before her senior year of high school, MacLaine went to New York City to try acting on Broadway, having minor success in the chorus of Oklahoma! After she graduated, she returned and was in the dancing ensemble of the Broadway production of Me and Juliet (1953–1954). Afterwards became an understudy to actress Carol Haney in The Pajama Game; in May 1954 Haney injured her ankle during a Wednesday matinee, and MacLaine replaced her. A few months after, with Haney still injured, film producer Hal B. Wallis saw MacLaine’s performance, and signed her to work for Paramount Pictures.
Broadway 1954 Casts
Eddie Foy, Jr. – Hines
Babe Williams – (May 13, 1954 – Jun 23, 1955)
John Raitt – Sid Sorokin
Marion Colby – Brenda
Ralph Dunn – Hasler
Peter Gennaro – Worker
Carol Haney – Gladys
Buzz Miller – 2nd Helper
Thelma Pelish – Mae
Stanley Prager – Prez
Reta Shaw – Mabel
Jack Waldron – Salesman
Rudy Adamo – Singer
Rae Allen – Poopsie / Singer
Carmen Alvarez – Dancer
Ralph Chambers – Charlie
William David – Pop
Sara Dillon – Singer
Bob Dixon – Singer
Jack Drummond – 1st Helper / Singer
Robert Evans – Dancer
Ralph Farnworth – Joe / Singer
John Ford – Singer
Marilyn Gennaro – Dancer
Jim Hutchison – Eddie / Dancer
Lida Loehring – Dancer
Eric Kristen – Dancer
Mara Landi – Singer
Shirley MacLaine – Dancer
Virginia Martin – Singer
Dale Moreda – Dancer
Marsha Reynolds – Dancer
Mary Roche – Singer
Augustin Rodriguez – Dancer
Mary Stanton – Singer
Ben Vargas – Dancer
Ann Wallace – Dancer
Gordon Woodburn – Singer
Understudies: Ralph Chambers (Hasler, Pop), John Ford (Salesman), Erik Kristen (2nd Helper), Mara Landi (Mae), Shirley MacLaine (Gladys), Stanley Prager (Hines), Mary Roche (Brenda) and Gordon Woodburn (Charlie)
Broadway 2006 Cast
Harry Connick, Jr. – Sid Sorokin
Michael McKean – Hines
Kelli O’Hara – Babe Williams
Peter Benson – Prez
Bridget Berger – Virginia
Stephen Berger – Charlie
Kate Chapman – Martha
Paula Leggett Chase – Brenda
Joyce Chittick – Mae
Jennifer Cody – Poopsie
David Eggers – Lewie
Michael Halling – Cyrus
Megan Lawrence – Gladys
Bianca Marroquin – Carmen
Michael McCormick – Pop / Ganzenlicker
Vince Pesce – Jake
Richard Poe – Hasler
Devin Richards – Joe
Roz Ryan – Mabel
Jeffrey Schecter – Ralph
Debra Walton – Shirley
Swings: Michael O’Donnell and Amber Stone
Understudies: Bridget Berger (Babe Williams), Stephen Berger (Ganzenlicker, Hasler, Pop), Kate Chapman (Mabel), Jennifer Cody (Gladys), Michael Halling (Sid Sorokin), Michael McCormick (Hines), Jeffrey Schecter (Prez) and Debra Walton (Mae)
- The 1954 cast recording, originally issued by Columbia Records and currently available on Sony Masterworks.
- The 1957 film soundtrack recording, originally issued by Columbia Records and currently available on Collectables Records.
- The cast recording for the 2006 revival is a two-disc set: The first disc contains the Broadway cast recording from The Pajama Game; and as a suggestion from the Sony record company, there is a second disc, which contains new recordings of songs from Harry Connick, Jr.’s, compositions for the 2001 musical Thou Shalt Not, performed by Harry Connick, Jr., and Kelli O’Hara. The double album is produced by Tracey Freeman and Harry Connick, Jr.
- 1954 Playbill
- Pajama Game Guide to Musical Theatre
- The Pajama Game – John Raitt Remembers Archived 2013-06-06 at the Wayback Machine. Mkstage.com. Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
- Simonson, Robert and Jones, Kenneth. “Hey There: ‘The Pajama Game’ Is Played Once More on Broadway” Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, February 26, 2006
- Staff. “At This Theatre. St. James Theatre (Broadway), ‘The Pajama Game'” Playbill, accessed July 24, 2015
- “LOCAL BOY AND GIRL MAKE GOOD”. The Argus (Melbourne). Victoria, Australia. 1 December 1956. p. 15. Retrieved 10 June 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Jury, Louise. “Gary Wilmot: ‘I’m delighted to be back on the West End stage for The Pajama Game’ “ Archived 2014-02-14 at the Wayback Machine London Evening Standard, 13 February 2014
- Billington, Michael (13 May 2014). “The Pajama Game review – passion collides with politics in dynamic revival”. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- Willmott, Phil (23 May 2014). “The Pajama Game Review”. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- Spencer, Charles (14 May 2014). “The Pajama Game, Shaftesbury Theatre, review: ‘pure pleasure‘“. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- “The Pajama Game: The Unmissable Broadway Musical Comedy”. ThePajamaGameTheMusical.com. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- Ruhlmann, William. Review of Original Broadway Cast Recording Allmusic.com, accessed July 24, 2015