SOLD out and still selling that was ‘the ﬁrst night box office at Witham's Public Hall last night.
And no wonder — Witham Musical and Amateur Operatic Society's production this week of The Pajama Game has all the Broadway bounce the musical deserves. Produced by the experienced Doris Griffiths under the baton of Wally Assheton Taylor, the show has racy American brashness and Brenda Goddard's choreography was handled with style by most of the large cast.
The story of love amidst a pyjama factory dispute gets off to a good start with the sewing room scene — full of hustle and bustle and the moody, smooch atmosphere of Hernando's Hide-away was captured perfectly.
Tim Sheppard communicated well with the audience as our narrator as perky clock-watcher Hines. His melodramatic air was never overdone. Jacky Wood as Mae has just the right touch of Mid-West country bumpkin about her and leading lady Pat Harris was alternately hard headed and emotional Babe Williams. Her fine voice blended well with that of David Fletcher who played Sid Sorokin, the factory supervisor, with confidence and ability.
In every factory there‘s a dolly secretary and Patsy Doy was buxom and seductive as Gladys while Rita Page gave an excellently smooth performance as her senior, Mabel.
With so many hit songs such as Small Talk and Once-A-Year-Day, the show can't fail to be a sell-out for the rest of the week.
l'd forgotten just how many good tunes there were in “The Pajama Game." The Witham Musical and Amateur Operatic Society gave them all their worth in a very lively and enthusiastic production at the Public Hall last week.
The brass in the orchestra was a bit off key and some of the trickier numbers could have done with more rehearsal but generally, in the capable hands of Wally Assheton Taylor, the accompaniment was very professional.The many scene changes were managed with commendable speed and the costumes (designed, and made by members of the society) were quite outstandingly colourful and attractive.
The choreography (Brenda Goddard) was always a source of pleasure. Producer Doris Griffiths had extracted the maximum from her large and talented cast and gave the whole thing a sense of vitality which made it not unreasonable to compare it in parts to the 22—carat gold original American variety.
There was a real bravura performance from Tim Sheppard as Hines, the man who tries to keep the pajama factory going. David Fletcher was suitably cast in the romantic lead and his real sense of stage presence and very pleasant singing voice and not inconsiderable acting ability brought the role to vibrant life. Pat Harris played Babe Williams, the complaints committee's leader who becomes inextricably involved with him.
Patsy Doy was the kind of secretary any man would like to have around and Jacky Wood was super as a real kooky doll, all bunches, glasses, enthusiasm and man crazy.
ADMIRERS of the American way of life will be delighted with The Pajama Game. The Sleep Tite Pajama Factory, where most of the action takes place, resounds with the razzamatazz and hullabaloo of big business as carried on across the Atlantic. Everyone on stage has a stab at a suitable accent with varying degrees of success but we are constantly reminded of our own country when we discover that the workers are busily engaged in trade union activity
Under the guidance of their new producer, Doris Griffiths, Witham Operatic Society made a brave shot at this most professional type of entertainment. Some of the performers greatly enhanced their reputations, particularly Patsy Doy, as Gladys the office sex symbol. She impudently strutted through the play with gamine smile and swung a gracefully wicked hip in popular numbers such as Her Is and Steam Heat — this society has found a soubrette to treasure.
Resident romantic leads, Pat Harris and David Fletcher dealt with the straight ballads and the inevitable story of true love in their usual polished style but I trembled at the risk they were taking with their fine singing voices in the raucous and tonsil-tearing duet, There Once was Man. It brought the house down, though.
As the cigar smoking boss, Andy Beaven was responsible for a consistently satisfying character study and Rita Page, as a business-like secretary, made good use of her dancing shoes in a pleasant little routine with Tim Sheppard
Now, Tim had to be Mr Versatility on this occasion. He introduced the show. he sang, he danced, became a knife-thrower and even removed his trousers — an action regarded as the acme of humour in revue. In spite of the poverty of his material, he was urbanely successful.
Gerry Banks made a much better-looking trade union leader than most and his acting was smooth and easy. There was a host of little parts capably and enthusiastically played. In this department, Geoff Coverdale (Pop), Jacky Wood (Mae) and Peter Sparkhall (Salesman) were outstanding. The chorus work was good and attractive and Brenda Goddard's choreography made it all glitter. Wally Assheton-Taylor's small orchestra, with brass predominating, at times sounded unduly attenuated.
On the first night, the lighting was somewhat uninspired and the 17 scenes taxed the resources of backstage to their limits but no doubt all will be well on ensuing evenings as there is any amount of punch and vitality at Witham’s Public Hall this week.
WITHAM Amateur Operatic Society's sexiest venture yetinto light opera, The Pajama Game, is attracting good audiences to the Public Hall this week and is a lively show, entertainingly dressed and effectively staged. The show is only marred by an under-rehearsed orchestra which I hope will improve as the week goes on. David Fletcher as Sid, supervisor of the pyjama factory, has a good voice and imposing presence and is well paired with Pat Harris as Babe Williams; the leader of the grievance committee.
Patsy Doy and Rita Page provide an excellent pair of secretaries, Tim Sheppard is snappy as a time-and-motion study man, and Gerry Banks is a personable union leader. As Gauche May, Jackie Wood gives an amusing performance and the show’s chorus and dancers are well drilled and take the big chance offered to them in the finale which closes the show with a punch.