John Paul Primeaux as Max, from left, Gabi Fontenot as Sid Sorokin, Matt Tonkovich as Vernon Hines and Zac Hammons as Hasler perform in a scene from ''The Pajama Game.'' (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:53 AM
The cast of ACTS’ latest production will be singing “The pajama game, that’s the game I’m in” on opening night Friday, March 15, and the two subsequent weekends as Walt Kiser directs what he terms one of America’s best-known musical plays.
Performances of “The Pajama Game” will be Fridays through Sundays, March 15-17 and March 22-24, in the 1 Reid St. theater, at the corner of Railroad Avenue.
The play opened on Broadway in 1954 starring Job Raitt, father of singer Bonnie Raitt, and Janis Page in the leads.
A relatively unknown understudy was called into service in the role of Gladys Hotchkiss, Kiser said. It was in her tenure of several months in the role that Shirley MacLaine was discovered by Hollywood and signed by Paramount Studios.
“Two cast members wrote to Ms. MacLaine and she sent us an autographed photo,” he said.
The play and 1957 movie are best remembered for the songs “Steam Heat,” “71⁄2 Cents,” “Hey There” and “Hernando’s Hideaway,” Kiser said. Doris Day replaced Page in the movie, which otherwise used most of the original Broadway cast.
The story centers on a labor dispute in a Midwestern garment factory where management is resisting the employees’ union-organizing movement, mainly over a demand for a raise of 71⁄2 cents.
Romantic fraternizing between labor and management, as well as among workers and union organizers, adds conflict that keeps the plot interesting.
Cast as Sid Sorokin is ACTS stage veteran Gabi Fontenot (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Kiss Me Kate”), and as Babe, St. Louis Catholic High School senior Emmie Lancon (“Into the Woods”). Other cast members are Matt Tonkovich (“South Pacific,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”) as Vernon Hines; Paula McCain (“A Christmas Story,” “Lilies of the Field”) as Gladys; Kelly Rowland (“Into the Woods,” “The Importance of Being Earnest”) as Mabel; Matt Dye (“A Christmas Story,” “Kiss Me Kate”) as president of the union.
Zac Hammons (“South Pacific”) plays the boss, Hasler; John Paul Primeaux makes his ACTS debut as Max; Teresa Labbit (“Auntie Mame,” “Annie Warbucks”) plays Mae; Anjo Elsbury (“Auntie Mame,” “Dirty Work at the Crossroads”) is Poopsie; Chanda Withers (“Dirty Work at the Crossroads”) plays Brenda; Anita Fields-Gold (“Lilies of the Field,” “Oliver”) plays Virginia; Casey Doucet makes his debut as Joe; Roselie Kelly makes her debut as Sandra; Jonathan Frantz makes his ACTS debut as Charlie; Bob Jines, set builder at ACTS, plays Pops; and ACTS board president Rebecca Pack (“Lilies of the Field,” “Chicago”) is Carmen.
“The Pajama Game” is produced by Betsy Doucet, stage managed by Diane Flatt and choreographed by Cathy Kurth, assisted by Kristen Harrell. Neil Quinn, a music teacher at LaGrange High School, directs a six-piece orchestra and was rehearsal pianist.
• Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Fridays, March 15 and 22, and Saturday, March 16 and 23, and at 3 p.m. Sundays, March 17 and 24.
• Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for students with a valid ID. Tickets may be purchased online at actstheatre.com or by calling 433-ACTS. Vouchers for tickets may be purchased at the Civic Center box office, Moss Bluff Flower and Gift, and Lakeshore Medic Pharmacy on Enterprise.
• Tickets may also be purchased at the door with cash, check or Mastercard/Visa as they remain available.