CLO'S 'PAJAMA GAME' REFRESHING

BY Carol Waterloo Frazier - Daily News Lifestyles Editor

Don't let the title fool you - 'Pajama">

CLO'S 'PAJAMA GAME' REFRESHING

BY Carol Waterloo Frazier - Daily News Lifestyles Editor

Don't let the title fool you - 'Pajama,a Game' is anything but a sleeper.

The show is the third in this year's Civic Light Opera season and will continue at The Bendedum through Sunday.

This humorous love story tells the tale of a man who hopes to start over.  He gets a job as a superintendent of the Sleep Tite Pajama Factory in Iowa and, as fate would have it, falls in love with one of the workers.  But there's a slight twist - the workers are demanding a seven-and-a-half cent pay raise; he represents the company, the love of his life represents the union.

This is a very refreshing show, one that is fast-paced from the beginning.  There are several reasons: the music is wonderful, the costumes, very decade-appropriate (the 50's) and the sets lavish.

The acting is not too shabby, either.

Taking center stage was ROBERT CUCCIOLI as Sid Sorokin, the new superintendent.  He did a wonderful job, especially in scenes with Beth Leavel (Babe Williams, with whom he falls in love).

While he was very good in scenes without her, when they were on stage together, the scenes came alive.   Their on-stage chemistry ignited and it was obvious they were having a good time.   They brought songs like "Once a Year Day", "Small Talk", and the energetic "There Once Was A Man" to life.  Their love story was very convincing.

On their own, though, they were very good.  CUCCIOLI'S clear, sharp voice was a job to listen to, especially on "Hey There," where he did a duet - with himself.

Leavel's voice, too, was a delight and blended nicely with Cuccioli's.  Her scenes were very dynamic and, in most cases, involved rather large productions. "I'm Not At All In Love" and "Seven-and-a-Half-Cents" are two cases in point.

The orchestra is to be commended for not overpowering their voices, which was a welcome change.

Ray DeMattis was superb as Hines, the company's time-study expert.  Every time he's on stage, he steals the scene.   His comedic skills were evident from the beginning of the show when he introduced the main characters.  From there he got even better.  Scenes for "I'll Never Be Jealous Again" and "Think of the Time I'll Save" were outstanding.

This was one show where even the supporting actors were stars. DeMattis was an example of this point.  Another was Jeff Howell, who turned in a memorable performance as the woman-chasing Prez (a departure from most of his CLO roles).  He did a fine job with "Her Is!" with Jane Lanier.

Lanier portrayed Gladys, who Hines is head-over-heels in love with.  She shined especially bright in two scenes; the dance number of "Steam Heat" and the tango-like and very energetic "Hernando's Hideaway".

"Mary Tyler Moore Show" fans will recognize Mable - Georgia Engle.  Her soft, recognizable voice made her perfect as Sid's secretary.  She did a nice job with DeMattis in "I'll Never Be Jealous Again".

Gene A. Saraceni also did a fine job as Hasler, the rather gruff president of the company.

This is the first time since 1968 that CLO audiences have had the pleasure to enjoy "Pajama Game".  This is the kind of show that can be seen repeatedly without getting old.  The music is refreshing and the story is one a hopeless romantic would die for.

copyright - McKeesport Daily News,   July 20, 2000

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