Peter Polycarpou, Gary Wilmot and Colin Stinton join the cast of the West End transfer of Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of The Pajama Game, directed by Richard Eyre. Polycarpou and Stinton reprise their roles as Vernon Hines and Hasler, with Wilmot taking over the role of Vernon Hines from 2 June. They join the previously announced Joanna Riding and Michael Xavier. The Pajama Game opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 13 May, with previews from 2 May, playing until 13 September 2014.
In 1950s America, love is in the air at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory as handsome new Superintendent Sid Sorokin (Michael Xavier) falls head-over-heels for firebrand Union rep Babe Williams (Joanna Riding). Sparks fly when the employees are refused a seven-and-a-half cents raise, leaving Sid and Babe at odds as the temperature rises… Will love, eventually, conquer all?
The transfer will remind audiences of the pedigree of The Pajama Game’s original creators in 1954: George Abbott, Richard Adler, Jerome Robbins, Hal Prince and Bob Fosse. The show features hits such as ‘Hey There’ (You With The Stars In Your Eyes), ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’ and ’Steam Heat’.
Richard Eyre said: “The Pajama Game was the first musical I ever heard – on an album belonging to my sister when I was 14. I had never seen it until I directed it at Chichester. It was a long wait to discover what an entrancing, joyful, tuneful and sharp show it is.”
Eyre is joined by choreographer Stephen Mear (with whom he has recently worked on the musical Stephen Ward, also starring Riding), designer Tim Hatley, lighting designer Howard Harrison, sound designer Paul Groothuis, musical supervisor Gareth Valentine and musical director Michael England.
The full cast: Joanna Riding (Babe Williams), Michael Xavier (Sid Sorokin), Peter Polycarpou/Gary Wilmot (Vernon Hines), Alexis Owen Hobbs (Gladys), Claire Machin (Mabel), Colin Stinton (Hasler/ Pop), Eugene McCoy (Prez), Siôn Lloyd (Max), Jennie Dale (Mae), Sharon Wattis (Poopsie), Keisha Amponsa Banson (Brenda), Lauren Varnham (Charlene), Jo Morris (Rita), Nolan Frederick (Charley), Richard Jones (Frank), Dan Burton (Earl) and James O’Connell (Joe).
Peter Polycarpou plays Vernon Hines, the factory timekeeper until 31 May. He has had a hugely varied career spanning over 30 years in in theatre, film television and radio. Recent theatre work includes Inspector Messiter in The Magistrate (National), Beadle Bamford in Sweeney Todd (West End and Chichester Festival Theatre) and Love Story (Duchess Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre). He has also performed in many renowned musicals in the West End including The Phantom of the Opera, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Oklahoma! and Cats as well as creating the roles of Thenardier in the original cast of Les Misérables and John in Miss Saigon.
Gary Wilmot plays Vernon Hines, the factory timekeeper from 2 June. Wilmot made his West End musical debut playing Bill Snibson in Me and My Girl and has since performed in Copacabana, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Goodbye Girl and played the iconic roles of Fagin in Oliver! and Billy Flynn in Chicago. His most recent theatre credits include Radio Times (The Watermill and national tour) and The Invisible Man (Menier Chocolate Factory).
Colin Stinton reprises his role as Hasler, head of the pajama factory. Stinton has most recently been on stage in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Chichester Festival Theatre and Duchess Theatre). He has performed in numerous National Theatre productions including Mother Courage and Her Children, Death of a Salesman, Guys and Dolls and Speed-The-Plow as well as extensively in New York.
The Chichester Festival Theatre production of The Pajama Game is produced in the West End by Joseph Smith and John Brant, Old Vic Productions, Gavin Kalin and Stephen McGill.
* From Here to Eternity, Tim Rice’s new musical, will close on 29 March 2014, after a run of six months at the Shaftesbury Theatre. The date is a month earlier than previously expected. Composed by Stuart Brayson, with lyrics by Rice and a book by Bill Oakes, the musical – based on James Jones’ 1951 novel – opened on October 23, 2013.
Readers may also be interested in our review of The Pajama Game at Chichester Festival Theatre.
Plus our interview with actress Joanna Riding in issue four of Musical Theatre Review.