On Friday and Saturday, the 10th and 11th of March, Mt. Greylock thespians, under the leadership of Jeffrey Welch, took to the MainStage at Williams College’s ‘62 Center for Theatre and Dance to perform The Pajama Game. I attended this beautiful venue for the Friday performance; sitting in the second level of the balcony I could appreciate not only the scale and elegance of the building, but the professionalism of the acoustics in the theater. This was particularly highlighted in the pit band’s opening overture; the band, full of students, was nearly flawless all night, and was extremely effective in supporting the singers.
The show depicted a 1950s pajama factory, in which the workers, who made up a majority of the ensemble, yearned for a 7.5 cent raise in their wages. Leading the charge for the workers was the charming and seductive Prez, played by senior John Pfister, who excelled in this role. Another stellar performance came from senior Whit Ellingwood, who gave a hilarious display playing Hines, the man who threw knives, took off his pants, and kept the workers on the clock. The scene in which he took off his pants to model new pajamas, certainly caught the audience off guard, but ultimately had them in stitches. Junior Jacob Hane played the president of the factory, Mr. Hasler, and gave an impassioned performance. One of the funniest moments of the night was when Hane yelled at the male lead, Sid Sorokin, to “keep his dukes up.” Hane repeated the line again and again, each time with more gusto, once again cracking up the audience.
The two leads, senior Artem Dudko, who was Sid Sorokin, and junior Cedar Keyes, who played Babe Williams of the factory grievance committee, carried a majority of the singing. Keyes established herself as perhaps the most experienced and talented vocalist in the cast with brilliant displays in numbers such as “I’m Not At All in Love” and her duet with Dudko, “There Once Was a Man.” Dudko’s character was the new superintendent at the pajama factory, and the two leads quickly develop a love interest for one another that has its highs and lows throughout the play. Dudko handled his large role well, fitting the part of a suave ‘50s heartthrob.
Although the strength of the musical numbers was consistent and very successful throughout the entire show, the plot did not pick up until the second act. The first act simply introduced characters, but was heavy on singing and larger displays, like Hines’s knife throwing scene. But the second half drew the audience in, as the workers prepared for their protest to raise their wages. Still, it was not devoid of funny moments, as senior Jenna Benzinger, who portrayed one of Hasler’s secretaries, had a hilarious song and scene at “Hernando’s Hideaway,” a highlight of the show.
The show displayed the hard work that the cast and crew have put in over the past few months. It kept the audience constantly giggling with its unexpected humor. All of the actors did a marvelous job of getting into their respective characters, giving genuine and believable performances. Director Jeffrey Welch once again led these talented actors to a captivating and funny show.