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The Pajama Game

Tony Award-winning musical comes to Centerstage!

Left to right: Sharon Armstrong, Timothy Duval, Caiti Burke, Sam Barker, Lia Lee, Rico Lastrapes, Ashley Roy, Colin Madison, Cassie Fastabend, and Tyler Dobies. Photo credit: Monique Preston

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The Pajama Game has a long and storied history, beginning with its debut on Broadway in 1954 featuring the choreography of the great Bob Fosse, with Shirley McClain as an unnamed dancer, and through two Broadway revivals and a film. The Pajama Game won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1954, and the 2006 revival copped a grand total of nine Tony Awards. And now it is coming to Centerstage! in Federal Way.

With book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell and music and lyrics by Jerry Ross and Richard Adler, the musical is based on Bissell's novel about workers at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory revolting against harsh conditions when they're pushed to work faster and faster. They threaten to go on strike and ask for raises of seven-and-a-half cents an hour. Naturally, a love story is thrown into the mix when Sid, the factory superintendent, falls in love with Babe, head of the factory grievance committee, and Prez, the union leader and a married man, has the hots for Gladys, who is dating Vernon Hines, a factory worker who is wracked with jealousy. Sid is played by Eric Dobson; Babe, by Taylor Davis, recent director of Return to the Forbidden Planet at Centerstage! Prez is played by Sam Barker; Gladys, by Ashley Koon; and Vernon Hines, by Colin Madison, Puget Sound area resident and casting director at StageRight Theatre in Seattle.

There are fireworks galore, all played out with music and dance with musical theater standards from the 1950s such as "Steam Heat" and "Hernando's Hideaway."

"I am really excited by the fabulously diverse cast -- some good age range, great racial diversity, and a strong talent pool," said Director Trista Duval. "We have some return actors from this season, but also a few new ones. One of my fave new ones is Gary Taylor, who did film and TV back when that was huge in Seattle. He was in Northern Exposure for a 10- or 12-episode arc, and in the film Homeward Bound, which was a formative childhood film for about half the cast."

Duval joined Centerstage! as the artistic director this past summer after the retirement of Alan Bryce. She has several Centerstage! shows under her belt and says she is honored to be able to continue to build its legacy. She has performed up and down the East Coast, in Texas, and now in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where she first began to grow her experience as an arts team builder and director. She is "married to a stellar guy and has two gorgeous boys who think they own this theater." Duval is familiar to South Sound audiences from her performance as the Good Fairy in the panto Little Red Riding Hood, and as the Lady of the Lake in Tacoma Musical Playhouse's Spamalot.

"I became ill shortly after marrying nine years ago and had to take nearly four years off from the theater world, then complications with having my kids added another three. So during that time I taught voice and worked with a nonprofit developing their arts programs. Then I began taking directing jobs in the area. When I got back into acting, Centerstage! was my first stop," Duval said.

The large cast in The Pajama Game includes a group of high school interns from several Federal Way schools. Choreography is by Ashley Roy. Duval says Roy "will be heavily influenced by Fosse but will be bringing her own stuff."  Music direction by John Lehrack, owner of Dorothy's Piano Bar in Seattle. And the design team, Duval says, "is a great group of awesomeness, which gives it a really fun, colorful look and style."

THE PAJAMA GAME, 8 p.m., Thursday-Saturday; 2 p.m., Sunday, May 18 through June 3, plus 2 p.m. Saturday matinees beginning May 26, $12-$29, Centerstage! at Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Rd., Federal Way, 253.565.6867,

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