Niagara University Theatre presents The Pajama Game
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – The 2017 Niagara University Theatre Department Gala show opened on Thurs. April 20 and will run through April 30 at the Leary Theatre in the Elizabeth Ann Clune Center for Theatre. The department presents The Pajama Game, a classic golden age show with catchy songs and energetic dance numbers.
The Pajama Game is based off the 1953 novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell. It tells the story of the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, where employees eagerly fight for a pay raise. When the new superintendent, Sid, arrives at the factory, a romance sparks between him and Babe, the head of the grievance committee. Babe, a strong-willed and devoted member of the Union, must choose between pleasing her new love interest and continuing to fight for her cause alongside her many lively and quirky co-workers.
The show features some well-known musical theatre songs, such as “I’m Not At All in Love”, “Hey There”, “Steam Heat”, and “Hernando’s Hideaway”. The show is also full of impressive dance numbers choreographed by Terri Filips Vaughan, a dance professor at Niagara. Vaughan also directed the production, with Randy Andropolis serving as the music director.
There are 23 students in the production of this year’s Gala show. The cast includes freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
Nick Edwards, a junior theatre major, is participating in the event for the first time this year. He plays Myron Hasler, the strict boss of the pajama factory. Edwards is very excited to share this show with the rest of the campus.
“The cast brings such a positive energy to this show,” Edwards stated. “If we didn’t have each person, I don’t think it’d be quite the same. These people have put in so much time over the past two months to build a entertaining story for all ages. We all take this project seriously yet have such a good time doing it.”
Edwards also commented on how this show has a much different appeal than other recent NU Theatre productions.
“It’s nothing like Mother Hicks, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, or even The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” he stated. “The cast is pretty large and there are numerous group numbers. The atmosphere is light and the show is meant to put the audience in a good mood. It’s a very old show too, so we get to recreate something that many people are familiar with and make it our own.”
According to Edwards, one of the biggest challenges of the show has been the various dance numbers.
“One of the most exciting parts of this production is how much dancing it includes,” he said. “It has taken the most amount of time to put together and perfect but I think it is what makes our production so compelling.”
Kevin Trala, another junior in the cast, has already performed in a Gala show. He was in Guys and Dolls his freshman year at Niagara, but is trying something new in The Pajama Game.
“I’m not playing a factory worker like the majority of the rest of the cast,” he stated. “I’m a train conductor. I had to create my own story and do a lot of research on what life was like for train conductors back in the 1950s.”
While Trala enjoys the time period the show is set in, he admits that it presents the actors with an added challenge.
“We’re so used to seeing musicals nowadays that are based off of what we’re used to seeing in modern society,” he stated. “Placing yourself in a completely different time with different circumstances is never easy. It kind of took us out of our comfort zone, but we adjusted and made it work. I think the setting contributes to the Golden Age sense of the show. It’s a feel-good musical all about spectacle and escapism, and I think it’s something audiences will enjoy.”
The theatre department is offering several performances for the campus and local community. Students are encouraged to show their student ID at the box office and claim their one free ticket to support their peers.
The performance on Sat. April 29 is closed to students because it is part of the Friends of NU Theatre Gala, available only to those who have purchased a ticket to both the show and the dinner afterward that takes place at the Niagara Falls Country Club. This year the Friends will celebrate NU Theatre’s 53rd season.
The Friends of NU Theatre are a group of donors who help the NU Theatre Department provide its many opportunities for growth to students. They help plan the Gala and other fundraising events as well as raise awareness of current productions in the community. Their overwhelming support provides NU theatre students constant encouragement in the various artistic endeavors they explore during their time at NU.
The Pajama Game runs until April 30. Students can purchase their tickets online or at the box office at the Leary Theatre.