Drama, romance and a whole lot of fun stitch together Aiken Community Playhouse’s latest production, “The Pajama Game,” opening this weekend.
The show will run Friday, Saturday and Feb. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m., as well as Sunday at 3 p.m. and Feb. 9 at 3 and 8 p.m. The show on Saturday will be interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing. On Feb. 7, people can wear pajamas and get a chance to win a door prize. For those who feel shy about this venture, there will be ushers decked out in their PJs for the night.
The musical, put on by the Youth Wing, centers around the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, where the workers are doing anything but snoozing. A union arises with a joint goal - to get a 7.5 cent pay raise. But things go a bit awry, when the group’s leader Babe Williams, played by Madison Anderson, falls head-over-poor timing-heals for the new superintendent Sid Sorokin, played by Tim McFall.
The production is a first for the Youth Wing, as they have never put on a full-length musical before, Jim Anderson, show director and Youth Wing executive director, said.
“We wanted something with a large cast, that was fun, that was light, and I had seen the Doris Day (1957) movie and had really liked it. So it didn’t take us long to decide on this,” he said.
The show has a cast of around 30. Most are eighth to 12th graders with five of them being elementary school students.
“It was really timely to have this musical,” Jim Anderson said. “There’s a lot of strength in our juniors and seniors, so this is a great showcase for them as they get out of high school. And this (show) has brought out a lot of fresh talent from the local schools.”
As the musical is a first-time experience for the overall wing, it is also a first-time experience for some of the cast.
Mary-Cate West, playing factory worker Doris, is active in her church choir and has danced before. But, this is her first time in a musical.
“It’s really exciting. It’s very different,” she said.
It was actually Madison Anderson, “Madi” as West referred to her as, who talked West into the audition, and, now that West’s gotten into it, she’s found that it’s not so bad.
“I guess I was really nervous at first, but they are so welcoming, and it’s a lot of fun. And I’m more open now,” she said. “I’m still nervous about actual people being in here, but it’ll be fun.”
Being her first time with the Youth Wing, she’s found everyone to be really helpful and is excited and looking forward to the performances, she said.
Malik Brown will play Charlie, a fellow factory worker and handiworker. Charlie will be his first theatrical role ever.
When asked why a musical for his first stage undertaking, he responded with a simple story.
“Actually, a girl 30 minutes before auditions was like, ‘You should come try out,’ and I was like ‘all right,’” he said, smiling about the impromptu experience.
But, he hasn’t seemed to regret a moment since.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s not even that hard, maybe because I love it so much. I love the kids, the singing and the dancing. It’s like one big, happy family.”
While he might not major in theater next year at college, Brown definitely plans to keep up with his acting while he’s away.
Playing factory worker and union representative Joe Anderson, Loughlin Anderson is familiar with putting on Youth Wing productions but not so much with putting on musical ones.
Anderson was in “Night Chills,” “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and “The Crucible” and has participated in the Wing’s community outreaches. To him, musicals was just another branch in his acting exploration.
“I’ve only been into acting for a year. It’s is so much fun, and it really hooks you,” he said. “I really wanted to see if I could, and it looked like so much fun.”
Anderson prepared a month before auditions by taking vocal lessons. Though he admits he is nervous, Loughlin knows, once on stage, he is lost to his character, helping him deal with those nerves.
The show’s assistant director is Nancy Hansen. Catherine Stapleton Nance is the musical director, while Adam Shults is the choreographer.
“The Pajama Game” is written by George Abbott and Richard Bissell, with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The musical is based off the “7 ½ Cents” novel by Bissell.
The show will be performed at the URS Center for the Performing Arts at 126 Newberry St.
For more information, call 648-1438 or visit www.aikencommunityplayhouse.com.
ACP Youth Wing
Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m.; Feb. 9 at 3 and 8 p.m.
URS Center for Performing Arts at 126 Newberry St.
Call 648-1438 or visit www.aikencommunityplayhouse.com.
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner The new Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory superintendent Sid, played by Tim McFall, fixes a sewing machine, as the factory head Hassler, played by Kevin Berning, looks on during a rehearsal for the upcoming Youth Wing production. Also pictured is Gladys, played by Sarah Cushman.×
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner Sarah Cushman as Gladys, center, speaks with Kevin Berning as Hassler during a rehearsal for the Youth Wing's upcoming "Pajama Game" show. Also pictured is, from left, Mary Cate West, Jessica Kirschner, Peyton Tharp, Kenneth McCormack, Ricky Baldwin and Anne Ateca.×
Staff Photo by Rob Novit Moriah Melvin hugs Kenneth McCormack during ACP's Youth Wing's preview for its upcoming "Pajama Game" production. The cast performed for the Rotary Club members on Monday.×
Staff Photo by Rob Novit Andrea Essleman, Kylie Burkes and Ilia Campbell dance and sing at ACP's Youth Wing's preview for its upcoming production of "Pajama Game." The group performed for the Rotary Club members Monday.×