Five stars and thumbs up for the Pajama Game’s opening night at the Shaftesbury


Slapstick comedy and prominent puns, knife throwing on stage and a one-man duet… Did the maiden Pajama Game show go down with bang? You bet it did.

Fun radiating from the stage into the audience at The Shaftesbury 

Michael Ball was at the bar chatting to Victoria Wood, Gary Wilmot was nestled amongst the crowd, they certainly came out of the woodwork to fill the Shaftesbury Theatre for the opening night of The Pajama Game. And by all accounts, it’s a collective thumbs up for Richard Eyre’s production of the feel good musical.

You can’t really deny five star accolades, particularly when they come from such diverse and numerous sources and critics.

“An adrenalin rush of pure pleasure”, writes the Daily Telegraph’s Charles Spencer. In fact Spencer took his enthusiasm towards The Pajama Game at The Shaftesbury a step further by saying it felt like one of the “most zingingly entertaining tune-and-toe shows you have ever seen.”

The Telegraph’s five star tribute was reiterated by the Guardian, which dubbed Richard Eyre’s “joyous production” as an “exuberance comparable to that of his National Theatre Guys and Dolls.”

Joanna Riding and Michael Xavier, who play Babe and Sid, were said to have brought sparks to the stage. One critic described the duo as a talented pair whose playful performances not only successfully wooed each other but also the audience.

Contagious fun

We have to admit, one of the most pleasurable aspects of watching theatre is when you can tell the actors are enjoying themselves and having fun. With a “twinkle in Xavier’s eye that’s infectious” and with no room for “whimpering lovesick leading ladies” as Riding is “brilliantly cast as the gutsy Babe”, as reporter Charlotte Marshall who attended the opening night wrote, the natural ease of Riding and Xavier “suggests they really are having as much fun as it appears on stage.”

Made for the Shaftesbury Theatre

Of course the West End’s Pajama Game follows a wildly successful run at Chichester’s Minerva. What was dubbed as a cracking production at Chichester, which showed the Pajama Game to be an “very good musical”, is said to be even more liberating at the Shaftesbury. As The Stage’s Mark Shenton writes:

“What was striking (and triumphant) for me was how a show that had seemed a bit squashed at the Minerva last year was suddenly liberated and freed up on a bigger stage.”

It’s certainly a big leap from the Minerva in Chichester to the Shaftesbury in the West End, but judging by the almost unanimous five star reviews from the opening night, the Pajama Game team look on target to nail it.

Tickets for this feel good musical at the Shaftesbury that certainly made the critics feel more than good on the press night are on sale now.