For its fourth production of the 2022-23 mainstage season, the Public Theater of San Antonio is presenting the musical The Pajama Game. With a book by veteran producer George Abbott along with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, it arrives at the Public with all of its brassy energy intact. Among its many bright musical numbers, audiences will be quick to recognize the standards “Hey There” and “Steam Heat.”
The Pajama Game tells the story of the Sleep-Tite pajama factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where the employees are gearing up for a strike to demand a 7 1/2-cents-per-hour pay increase. Factory owner Myron Hasler (John Perez) will have none of that, so he brings in his secret weapon – the charismatic Sid Sorokin (Grant Bryan) — to act as a union-buster. But when Sid runs up against union leader Catherine “Babe” Williams (Alyx Irene Gonzales), the romantic sparks begin to fly, despite their differences.
When the show debuted on Broadway in 1954, critics referred to it as “the first socialist musical,” since its protagonists were the workers fighting against big business.
About this version, director Diana Wyenn said, “Directing The Pajama Game, an older musical for contemporary audiences, is an exciting challenge. While culture has changed and evolved since its debut, we still have to protest for worker’s rights and against sexism, misogyny, and racism. This is what makes re-investigating this musical theater classic vital for me; offering up the fun of the original and uncovering with the team the ways we can highlight how society has progressed and where there is still significant room in our country for reflection and growth. We are looking forward to sharing this vibrant revival with San Antonio!”
The Public’s production is excellent, featuring a strong cast led by Bryan and Gonzales. Wyenn directs with an assured hand, complemented by Kellie Hodges’ energetic choreography. Former in-house designer Jeremy Whittington made a welcome return to design the sets for this one, and Jamie Ramirez’ five-piece band sounds great. It’s all ably supported by Rachael Lorenzetti’s costumes and Carlos R. Nine ‘s lighting and sound design.
The Pajama Game plays Thursday, Apr. 13, Friday Apr. 14 and Saturday Apr. 15 at 7:30 p.m., with a Sunday Apr. 16 matinee at 2:00 p.m. The following week, it plays Friday the 21st and Saturday the 22nd at 7:30 p.m. with a closing performance on Sunday the 23rd at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available here.
The Public Theater of San Antonio is located in San Pedro Springs Park at 800 W. Ashby Place.
Feature photo: Awkward Eye Photography.