ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine’s School of Performing Arts continues its 2016–17 theatre season with a production of the classic musical “The Pajama Game.”
Dawn McAndrews, producing artistic director of the Theater at Monmouth, is guest directing the UMaine production of the musical, written by George Abbott and Richard Bissell, with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, and based on Bissell’s novel “7½ Cents.”
Performances in Hauck Auditorium will be at 7:30 p.m., Feb.17–18 and Feb. 24–25; 2 p.m., Feb. 19 and Feb. 26; and 10 a.m., Feb 23. Tickets are $15 and are available online (umaine.edu/spa/tickets); admission is free for UMaine students with a student MaineCard.
“The Pajama Game” tells the story of a conflict between capital and labor in a sleepy factory town in Iowa. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1954 and won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, but was propelled to popular fame by the movie adaptation starring Doris Day and many of the original Broadway cast members.
While a show from the 1950s might be expected to have a softer approach to workplace conflicts and relationships, McAndrews says “The Pajama Game” is in many ways “more direct, open and candid about the struggle to be successful in finding love in the workplace.”
McAndrews started the rehearsal process by encouraging the actors to “trust the style and immerse themselves in it.”
“They’ve done a tremendous job of creating real people working together as a community and struggling to get what they need, whether that be love, employment or respect.”
McAndrews is certain that audiences will be surprised at how many of the irresistible, toe-tapping musical numbers they know.
For the signature dance number, “Steam Heat,” Portland-based choreographer Raymond Marc Dumont found inspiration in the original Bob Fosse choreography that is “exciting to perform, but extremely challenging and time-intensive to learn,” says lead performer and first-year student Curran Grant of Rockland.
“With the amount of work we’re putting in, you’ll think we’ve been dancing since we were 5,” says Grant.
Assistant director and UMaine junior Alan Estes of Newburyport, Massachusetts says audiences will love the fun and spontaneity of this production.
“McAndrews creates ensemble really well,” says Estes, who worked with guest director at the Theater at Monmouth as an intern. “It’s been a lot of fun watching students give life to something six decades old.”