‘The Pajama Game’ will leave its audience in stitches

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published March 16, 2012

 Center Line High School Drama Club performer Breeanna Anderson belts out a song from “The Pajama Game” during rehearsal March 14 in the Center Line High School auditorium.

Center Line High School Drama Club performer Breeanna Anderson belts out a song from “The Pajama Game” during rehearsal March 14 in the Center Line High School auditorium.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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CENTER LINE — Although set in the 1950s, the story behind “The Pajama Game” easily could be told today.

The musical comedy follows a group of pajama factory employees who are demanding a 7.5 cent per-hour raise, and the talented cast of the Center Line High School Drama Club brings it to the stage this weekend.

Showtime is 7 p.m. March 23-24 and 3 p.m. March 25 at the CLHS auditorium, 26300 Arsenal. Tickets, available at the door, are $6 for adults and $4 for students and senior citizens.

“The Pajama Game,” both a movie and stage play, is a bit of a departure for the school’s Drama Club, which often performs more children-oriented plays.

“Last year we did “Willy Wonka,” and the kids wanted to do something a little more mature,” director and teacher Adella Pietrzyk said. Assistant director Dana Diskin brought the idea of the 1950s comedy to Pietrzyk.

“It’s pretty interesting how a story from the 1950s relates to now,” Pietrzyk said. “It just kind of fit perfectly. We spent the first week of rehearsal talking about the characters’ personalities, their relationships with each other and how the 1950s has an effect on the characters.”

About 30 CLHS students were cast in the production. Ten additional students built the sets as the stage crew, and 10 more students will be part of the pit orchestra. During the afternoon of March 14, the performers worked on their fancy footwork to learn some new choreography.

While the cast of the “The Pajama Game” — which features many musical numbers including “Steam Heat” and “Hernando’s Hideaway” — fights for a larger paycheck, the situation becomes a bit more complicated as several love stories develop amid the sewing machines.

Helping the factory workers fight for the raise is senior Anthony Cilia, cast as Prez.

“He’s the president of the union fighting the people’s right to get a raise,” Cilia said.

And there’s something else about him that adds to the comedic vibe.

“He really likes women a lot while being married,” Cilia said. “Prez is pretty funny, I guess.”

Not so funny though is the character of factory superintendent Sid, whom senior Chris McEachran portrays.

“He’s pretty serious about his work,” the actor said. “A lot of guys have come and gone from the factory. It seems like work comes before a relationship. He’s like a tough guy. He stays focused.”

That is until he meets Babe Williams, played by senior Marissa Gongora.

“She’s very independent. She’s definitely a leader,” Gongora said of the character. “People look up to her. She is not afraid to stand up for herself.”

McEachran said the factory workers have never had a raise before; although, other union workers in town have received pay increases. Audience members will have to sit back and relax to find out if the hard-working pajama makers receive their 7.5 cent per-hour raise.

Senior Kate Hogarty, who plays factory-girl-with-kind-of-an-attitude Brenda, quickly became a fan of the musical after viewing the film version of “The Pajama Game.”

“I think it was funny. I like the story, how it’s about women getting their rights,” Hogarty said. “Prez is my favorite character. I think he is funny.”

For the four students, it’s their CLHS Drama Club swan song. The stage has been the second home for Hogarty, McEachran and Gongora all four years they’ve been at Center Line while Cilia has enjoyed two years of the theater program.

“It’s our last show,” Gongora said. “This is all we do. It’s going to be hard to be done.”

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