Last week I went to a delightful community theater production of The Pajama Game. The songs were written by Jerry Ross and Richard Adler, and the show was a big hit when it first opened in 1954. They followed up a year later with Damn Yankees which also was a big hit. Unfortunately, Jerry Ross died shortly afterward at the age of 29, and Adler, who lived to be 90, never had a Broadway hit again.
The action of the play is the love story between a union leader and a supervisor of the Sleep-Tite pajama company. The love plot is set against the background of an impending strike demanding a 7 and 1/2 cents an hour wage increase. While not politically sophisticated, the story actually celebrates the struggle of union members for better wages, a sentiment you would be hard-pressed to find in today’s popular entertainment.
The score delivered some pop songs that are still standards today. Here’s “Hey There,” sung by John Raitt, who created the lead role in the original Broadway production and the movie. Raitt had one of the great Broadway voices, perfectly suited for the strong leading man tenor roles of Rodgers and Hammerstein as well as The Pajama Game.