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The Pajama Game transfers to West End

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING a critically acclaimed, sold out run at the Chichester Festival Theatre, Richard Eyre’s production of the Broadway classic, The Pajama Game, will transfer to the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre for a limited season – from May 13 (previews from May 2) to September 13, 2014.

Described as a buoyantly blissful blend of romance and comedy, The Pajama Game stars Joanna Riding reprising her role as Babe Williams and Michael Xavier as Sid Sorokin.

Romance is blossoming at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory as handsome new Superintendent Sid Sorokin falls head-over-heels for feisty Union rep, Babe Williams. But when the employees are refused a seven-and-a-half cents an hour raise, the pair find themselves riotously at odds in this joyous musical comedy.

The question is: will love, eventually, conquer all?

The Pajama Game features classic songs such as Hey There (You with the Stars in Your Eyes), Once-A-Year Day, Hernandoʼs Hideaway, There Once Was A Man and Steam Heat.

Double Olivier Award-winning actress Joanna Riding’s extensive musical theatre credits include Me and My Girl (West End); My Fair Lady and The Witches of Eastwick (Theatre Royal Drury Lane); Carousel, Guys and Dolls, A Little Night Music and Oh What a Lovely War (National Theatre); Lady Be Good (Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park); Martin Guerre (West Yorkshire Playhouse and on tour); Billy Elliot The Musical (Victoria Palace Theatre) and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Gielgud Theatre).

She is currently playing Valerie Hobson in the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical, Stephen Ward, which is directed and choreographed by The Pajama Game team, Richard Eyre and Stephen Mear.

Most recently seen on television as Melissa in Sky’s comedy Stella, she has also appeared in Holby City, Doctors, Heartbeat, Where the Heart Is, The Royal, Midsomer Murders, The Brian Conley Show, Sean’s Show, Casualty, Strike Command and Wings of a Prayer. She can also be seen as Cinderella’s mother in the forthcoming film of Into the Woods.

Michael Xavier has received Olivier Award nominations for his roles as Oliver in Love Story (Chichester Festival Theatre/Duchess Theatre) and Cinderella’s Prince/The Wolf in Into the Woods (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre). His other credits include Freddy in My Fair Lady (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera and Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. He is currently performing in the seasonal concerts, The Best of the West End at Christmas.

Richard Eyre was Director of the National Theatre from 1988 – 1997. Since then, he has directed The Crucible (Broadway), Mary Poppins and Private Lives (West End and Broadway), Quartermaine’s Terms (West End) and his own adaptation of Ghosts for the Almeida Theatre where he last directed The Dark Earth and the Light Sky.

On television, his credits include Changing Stages, the BAFTA award-winning Tumbledown and Henry IV Parts 1 and II for the BBC’s 2012 Shakespeare Season. His film credits include Iris, Stage Beauty and Notes on a Scandal. As well as being awarded many times for his film and theatre work, Eyre was knighted in 1997.

As a choreographer, Stephen Mear’s extensive and acclaimed West End credits include Crazy For You, Betty Blue Eyes, Shoes, which he also directed, Anything Goes and Sweet Charity. For Hello Dolly! at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, he won an Olivier Award for Best Choreography.

The Pajama Game is designed by Tim Hatley, with lighting by Howard Harrison, sound by Paul Groothius and musical direction by Gareth Valentine. Further casting has yet to be announced.

From Here to Eternity is currently booking at the Shaftesbury Theatre until April 12, 2014.