With any youth program, beit sports, arts, or academic, one goes in expecting variations in skill level and talent. All that said, there are some truly great reasons to go see Urbana Park District’s The Pajama Game. (in no particular order):
1. Heartbreaking Hines
The tough efficiency expert is played by Josh Harris, who seems to instinctually know the pathos and misery of this man, and plays it to the hilt.
2. Cedric Jones’ voice.
Recent Central graduate Jones is very well suited to Sid’s songs such as “A New Town is a Blue Town” and “Hey There”, neither of which is easy to master. There is both talent and effort in evidence during those deliveries.
3. Funny Ladies
It’s a trifecta, with Jasmine Dandridge’s Mae mugging during “I’m Not At All In Love”; Isabella Dallas’ Gladys mocking her boss and protecting her key; and J’Lyn Cockrell’s Poopsie stealing every damn scene.
4. Children swearing
OK, it’s just “hell”, but it’s repeated often. By eight-year-olds. Maybe I’m awful, but it made me giggle.
5. Updated book
The director mentioned in our preview that he did take out some of the material that just wouldn’t fly, but there were also gender and racial modifications that should be expected today, and could not have been originally. My only content-related disappointment was that no one raised the roof ’90s style during the pertinent line of “Once a Year Day”.
Being one of 50 kids in a show isn’t so easy, (believe me, I was in Oliver!), and everyone’s hard work was visible. I know performers painted sets, costumed and hairstyled themselves, and one principal actress choreographed a number.
If there’s anything worth doing, however, it is doubly worth encouraging a child to try to do, and supporting their efforts. So figure it out and catch The Pajama Game tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday at the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre at Parkland College. Curtain is at 7 p.m., pricing’s on the poster.