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Players’ ‘Pajama Game’ fashions delightful union of tunes & talent PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Friday, 17 February 2012 11:28
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Kelsey Escue plays a factory worker enjoying the company picnic in the Black Swamp Players’ musical “The Pajama Game” which opens tonight in Bowling Green. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
“The Pajama Game’ is the kind of musical the show’s efficiency expert would love.
It’s  musical theater assembly line with just enough dialogue to shuffle the plot to the next song.
Director Bob Marzola has marshalled the right cast to do the show justice, providing the big voices and comic patter required.
“The Pajama Game” opens tonight at 8 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 1506 E. Wooster St., Bowling Green. It continues Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. with shows next weekend as well.
The labor-struggle plot is a bit odd for a musical, but that’s just a convenient frame for amorous high jinks. The show has a winning score including the big ballad number “Hey There” to build the show around.
Most important the cast has the voices to deliver those tunes starting with male lead Brian Carlucci.
He plays the new superintendent, Sid Sorokin, who at first seems all business until he melts under the charms of union grievance committee chairwoman Babe Williams (Rhianon Cowden).
They skirt over the impediments to their romance with a line or two and some striking singing — Cowden is a fine match of Carlucci.
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Rhianon Cowden and Brian Carlucci performing in ‘The Pajama Game’
The factory is all a-thither over the union’s demand for a 71/2-cent an hour pay increase. Late in the show “Seven-and-a-Half-Cents” celebrates jus how much that can amount to, if you’re hopelessly optimistic.
The owner Myron Hasler is played with comic gruffness by Leroy Morgan. “I know how to fight,”  he declares brandishing clenched fists. Morgan does a fine job in a role that in earlier years would have gone to the late Bob Clark, a Players stalwart whose presence was yet felt — memorial donations in his honor paid for the troupe’s new body mics. (His daughter Anne Clark, another Players regular, is assistant director.)
Sid and Babe are on opposite sides of this fight. Babe sees this as a potential problem, as do all the members of the audience. This being a musical, of course, this drives the lovers apart and just as reliably back together in the end.
The complementary comic couple features the efficiency expert Vernon Hines (Michael Barlos) and Hasler’s secretary Gladys (Kim Canfield). Canfield, even when bespectacled with large pink-framed glasses, lets Gladys’s sexy side shine through.
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Jordan McKinney’s Prez puts the moves on Gladys (Kim Canfield)
Hines is right to be jealous, though another secretary Mabel (Deb Shaffer) counsels him not be in “I’ll Never Be Jealous Again.” In her one musical feature number, Shaffer strikes just the right tone as her character steers the clueless Hines down the wrong path.
Rounding out the randy ranks are the philandering union president played by Jordan McKinney, who chases anyone wearing a skirt, but meets his match in Mae (Jailyn Harris).
Harris gets to show her dance moves in “Steam Heat,” one of those numbers designed simply to let cast members show off their dance moves. “Hernando’s Hideaway” fits in that category as well.
The large ensemble exudes a joyous camaraderie, which is always welcomed but particularly apt when they are supposed to be a group of people working toward a common goal.
That goal for the union is getting that raise. The goal for the cast is to put smiles on the faces of the audience. The union gets its money, and the cast gets and deserves its laughs and ovation.
Last Updated on Friday, 17 February 2012 11:32
 

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