Peter Polycarpou, Gary Wilmot and Colin Stinton join the cast of the West End transfer of Chichester Festival Theatre’s sparkling production of the Broadway smash hit musical, The Pajama Game, directed by Richard Eyre. Peter Polycarpou and Colin Stinton reprise their roles as Vernon Hines and Hasler, with Gary 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.
A buoyantly blissful blend of romance and comedy starring Joanna Riding reprising her feisty heroine, and Michael Xavier, the show features golden hits such as Hey There (You With The Stars In Your Eyes), Hernando’s Hideaway and Steam Heat.
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 deliciously at odds as the temperature rises. . . Will love, eventually, conquer all?
Described by the critics as ‘A romping, uplifting, funny, touching revival from Richard Eyre…truly joyful dancing and fabulous big numbers’ (The Times), ‘A glorious tide of melody’ (The Guardian) and ‘smart, sexy and funny …’ (Daily Express).
This much-anticipated transfer will burst across the West End stage reminding us of the pedigree of its 1954 original creators: George Abbott, Richard Adler, Jerome Robbins, Hal Prince and Bob Fosse, who understood high-octane entertainment so very well and were all destined to become Broadway aristocracy.
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.”
Joanna Riding, the double Olivier Award winning actress reprises her role as Babe Williams. Her other theatre credits include Julie in Carousel and Eliza in My Fair Lady, National Theatre productions for which she won her Olivier Awards, Sarah in Guys and Dolls, Anne in A Little Night Music and Oh! What A Lovely War. Further leading West End credits include Blithe Spirit, Billy Elliot, The Witches of Eastwick, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and currently, Stephen Ward, the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical playing at The Aldwych Theatre, directed and choreographed by The Pajama Game team, Richard Eyre and Stephen Mear. Joanna was recently seen on TV as Melissa in Sky’s comedy Stella alongside Ruth Jones, and can be seen as Cinderella’s Mother in the up and coming film of Into the Woods, directed by Rob Marshall and starring Meryl Streep.
Michael Xavier plays the handsome superintendent, Sid Sorokin. He has an impressive range of leading roles in a wide variety of hit musicals and plays, and gained Olivier nominations for Oliver in Love Story (Duchess Theatre, transferred from Chichester Festival Theatre) and for Cinderella’s Prince / The Wolf in Sondheim’s fairytale Into The Woods (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) in 2011. His many other roles include Freddy in My Fair Lady directed by Trevor Nunn (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Raoul in The Phantom of The Opera, and Captain Von Trapp in The Sound 0f Music. He recently sang at the National Theatre’s 50th anniversary concert, which was broadcast live on BBC 2 and in cinemas worldwide. He has recently performed in the seasonal concerts, The Best of the West End at Christmas.
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 playing the title role in 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. In television he is best known for playing Chris in the popular sit-com Birds of a Feather and his many other credits include EastEnders, Casualty, Hustle, Sunburn and most recently Threesome. His film work encompasses Evita, alongside Madonna, Oklahoma!, I Could Never Be Your Woman and De-Lovely.
Gary Wilmot plays Vernon Hines, the factory timekeeper from 2 June. Gary 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). Gary has made innumerable guest appearances on television as well as hosting his own television series Cue Gary and Showstoppers for the BBC. Gary’s solo Albums include Love Situation and The Album recorded at the historic Abbey Road Studio with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Colin Stinton reprises his role as Hasler, head of the pajama factory. Colin has most recently been on stage in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Chichester Festival Theatre and Duchess Theatre), his other theatre credits include The Price (Octagon Theatre and on tour), The Promise (The Orange Tree), Rain Man (West End) and Uncle Vanya (Wilton’s Music Hall). 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. His television credits include Foyleʼs War, Dr Who, Trail of Tony Blair, Spooks and My Family amongst many others, and on film he’s appeared in Rush, Captain America–The First Avenger, The Bourne Ultimatum and Closer.
Richard Eyre directed The Pajama Game for Chichester to great acclaim earlier this year where his previous credits include The Last Cigarette. He worked in regional theatres in Leicester, Edinburgh and Nottingham before becoming Director of the National Theatre. From 1988 – 1997 he directed numerous productions there including Guys and Dolls, Richard III, The Night of the Iguana, John Gabriel Borkman, King Lear and new plays by David Hare, Tom Stoppard, Christopher Hampton and Nicholas Wright. West End credits include Betty Blue Eyes and Quartermaine’s Terms and last month he won the 2013 Evening Standard award for Best Director for Ghosts, which he adapted and directed at The Almeida; it is currently playing at the Trafalgar Studios. Also just opened in the West End is the musical Stephen Ward, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical he has directed, which boasts Joanna Riding in its cast and is choreographed by Stephen Mear. His earlier musical collaboration with Stephen Mear, Mary Poppins, was a success in the West End and on Broadway. His numerous film and television credits include Notes on a Scandal, Stage Beauty, Iris, Comedians, Henry IV Parts I and II, Tumbledown (for which he won a BAFTA) and The Ploughman’s Lunch. His opera credits range from La traviata (ROH) to Carmen (Metropolitan Opera) and Le nozze di Figaro (Aix-en-Provence). He has published Utopia and Other Places, a memoir; National Service, a journal of his time at the National Theatre, and Talking Theatre, interviews with theatre people. He has received many awards including five Oliviers. In 1997 he was knighted and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2011.
Stephen Mear’s extensive and acclaimed West End choreographic credits include Crazy for You, Betty Blue Eyes, Shoes, which he also directed, Anything Goes and Sweet Charity. Further recent credits include Kiss Me, Kate at Chichester Festival Theatre and The Old Vic, Hello, Dolly! at The Open Air Theatre Regents Park which won him an Olivier Award for Best Choreography, The Little Mermaid on Broadway and Me and My Girl at Sheffield Crucible. He also co-choreographed Mary Poppins with Matthew Bourne, a hit in the West End, on Broadway and on tour in the UK and USA, scooping him Olivier and Tony Awards for Best Choreography amongst other accolades. Stephen is Associate Choreographer for Chichester Festival Theatre for which he has choreographed The Grapes of Wrath, She Loves Me which he also directed, The Music Man, Funny Girl and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Most recently Stephen has collaborated with director Richard Eyre again to choreograph the musical Stephen Ward currently at the Aldwych Theatre and also starring Joanna Riding. Stephen has just made his debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House choreographing a new production of Die Fledermaus.
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).
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.
A Chichester Festival Theatre production
Words and Music by RICHARD ADLER and JERRY ROSS
Book by GEORGE ABBOTT and RICHARD BISSELL
Based on Bissell’s novel 7 ½ Cents
Sleepwear for the Pajama Game is provided by Derek Rose
Previews from 2 May 2014. Click here for tickets
Check out these videos…
The first is a recording of “Hey There” from The Pajama Game performed live by Joanna Riding and Michael Xavier in a special arrangement by Paul Hebert on Sunday 2 March 2014 at You’ll Never Walk Alone: The West End Unites for the Philippines. A one-night-only gala concert in support of the Philippines Typhoon Appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee.
Take a look at this behind-the-scenes footage of The Pajama Game photo shoot.