by: Lucia Arreola
All year long, the Claire Trevor School of the Arts Drama Department has produced outstanding performances in adherence with their theme, “Against All Odds.” The 2018-2019 season will come to an end with the production of “The Pajama Game,” a story about a pajama factory suffering under a strike from workers who are waiting on the salary they deserve.
Based on the novel “7 ½ Cents” by Richard Bissell and directed by Don Hill, this stellar musical divulges into the details of the strike, led by spirited Catherine “Babe” Williams ( Eriel Milan Brown). She is opposed by the swanky new superintendent Sid Sorokin (Max DeLoach), who happens to fall head over heels in love with her. Somehow, their romance must survive against Babe’s loyalty to the Grievance Committee and the ominously pernicious head of the Sleep Tite pajama factory, Mr. Hasler (David Bradbury).
UCI undergraduate drama majors make up the entirety of this particular cast, and they have put all their heart and soul into their performances. Brown fills in the role of Babe beautifully with an endearing manner as performed in her first song, “I’m Not At All In Love.” Her leading man, DeLoach, also delivers an astounding voice in his solos, “A New Town Is A Blue town” and the iconic Broadway tune, “Hey There.”
Besides these two principal characters, a variety of other stars also shone on the stage; this included but was not limited to Isaiah Tadros as Hines, the factory timekeeper, and Olivia Pech as Mabel, Sid’s secretary. These two showed off their amazing chemistry onstage with the number, “I’ll Never be Jealous Again,” in which Mabel convinces Hines not to doubt his girlfriend so much. The cartoonish expressions on their faces brought about endless laughter from the audience, and their comedic timing was impeccable.
Something the audience could not help but take note of were the costumes, designed by Sarah Monaghan. The clothes transported the story back into the 1950’s with dresses, hats, and accessories from the era. The choreography of this musical, crafted with care by Allison Eversoll, was also spectacular. During “Once-A-Year-Day,” the entire cast displayed joy in their work as leaps, cartwheels, and even some impressive tap dancing occurred on the stage.
As the story draws to a close, Mr. Hasler’s secrets are revealed to show that the raise the pajama factory workers were demanding was possible after all, and the show ends on a high, victorious note. Babe and Sid, no longer on opposing sides, triumph in each other’s embrace and all is well.
Although the Sleep Tite pajama factory had happy endings all around, life offstage does not always end so perfectly. The antagonist in “Pajama Game” is the company, yet Sid’s perspective is also shown, and it demonstrates that it is not easy being the boss either. For a show from the 50’s, the situation these characters find themselves in is just as relevant to audiences in 2019. What’s important to remember is that we must persevere, “against all odds.” Babe, for instance, described by Brown as very “strong-willed,” stands for what she believes in and does not allow her feelings for Sid to change her mind about what she believes to be right. She not only continues her fight, but does so fiercely.
Even though “Pajama Game” concludes the UCI Drama department’s season, it by no means signals the end of the discussions it inspires its audiences to have. After the final curtain was drawn on a show with classic songs, brilliant choreography, and enthusiastic performances, the audience sat back in awe as they reflected on the issues they can overcome.
“The Pajama Game” will be playing at the Claire Trevor Theatre through June 8th. You can purchase tickets to the show here.