A Special Performance

  • Betsy’s Promise Fullfilled

    Middle School Musical Gives A Special Performance of Pajama Game


    “Hey, there! You were the stars of the show!

    The play didn’t make a fool of you; you were all aglow!”


    The Sayville Middle School premier production of Pajama Game, (the 1954 Tony Winner for Best Musical) delivered rousing musical numbers that blended mature humor (popular in its day) with comedic characterizations. Convincingly acted, impressively danced, and marvelously sung by the talented ensemble of Middle School students, Pajama Game was a delight. Considering it was performed by sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders made it even more amazing. [See IN PRAISE OF PAJAMA GAME details below.]

    Behind the scenes, the spirit of Betsy Cohen gave heart to this special Middle School production. Pajama Game was Mr. Norm Cohen’s sentimental favorite and Mrs. Cohen had promised him that when she retired it would be her last musical. Honoring her memory and undoubtedly using her spiritual guidance, Director Jeff Hoffman joined forces with colleagues Fred Diekmann, Kristin Woerner, Steve Hailey, Andrew Giammalvo, and enlisted the supervising expertise of Ken VanEssendelft for construction and Liz Griffith for choreography to fulfill Betsy’s promise.

    So many students and parent volunteers backstage who knew and loved Betsy assisted in Pajama Game. Their contributions were evident

    • in the care that went into the impressive and beautifully painted stage sets portraying the factory, office--the name B. Cohen was painted on a factory office door--and the Williams’ home;
    • in the backstage assistance that glided enormous sets across the stage in relative order and silence;
    • in the meticulous costuming that ranged in color and style depicting the Fifties in authentic detail;
    • in the lighting that illuminated the production;
    • in the props that served to root the musical in reality, as well as
    • in the band that gave the musical such depth and feeling.

    Betsy Cohen would not only be grateful to everyone who helped her fulfill her promise, she would be proud of the caliber and commitment that made "her" last production absolutely memorable. Now she can move on, content with her legacy.

    "We love you Mama Cohen!’




    While the back story in Pajama Game is about a labor dispute over a seven-and-a-half cents pay raise that puts the Sleep Tite Pajama Factory on the brink of a strike, the musical focuses on one developing romance which crosses over the management-labor line.


    Efficiency Expert Vernon Hines (proficiently performed by Liam Hofmeister) sets the fast pace in Racing with the Clock, the visually and musically engaging opening number that introduces the audience to the factory where discontented workers labor under deadlines.


    It does not help that bombastic Factory President Old Man Hasler’s (Jake Haggart did a great job filling out the role) is stubbornly holding out on the workers demands. No one but Hasler’s secretary, kittenish Gladys Hotchkiss (played purr-fectly by Victoria Nelson), who also happens to be Vernon’s girlfriend, holds the secret to the company’s finances.


    After minor friction erupts between the new factory superintendent Sid Sorokin (Theo Ebarb seamlessly personified the dashing hero) and a problem worker, Sid meets with the spitfire Union Grievance Committee Leader Catherine “Babe” Williams (embellished by the memorably Katya Sparwasser). Sid falls head-over-heels for the peppy Babe who proves his equal both adversarial and romantically. Especially sympathetic during his Hey There duet with the Dictaphone, Sid wonders about the futility of his attraction to Babe.


    Their sparring love affair is interwoven with other polarized relationships. Although Sid’s supportive and resourceful secretary, Mabel (Julia Magnani, lovely both in voice and in her rich purple business suit), can’t help the ever-jealous Vernon, who attempts to impress Gladys with his carnival knife-throwing talents at a company picnic. In his song Her Is, comic “character” Prez (played with great panache by Ben Diehl) uses his prestige as head of the union to refine his company-picnic talent for chasing every female employee at the factory, including Gladys, adding fuel to the barbeque fires of discord.


    After everyone enjoys their Once a Year Day idyllic picnic with high-kicking dancing, cartwheels, and splits accompanied by energized singing, they return to the daily grind. Sid and Babe admit their love in Small Talk and There Once was a Man, but sparks fly when Babe literally pulls the plug on pajama production in protest. Even as the plot tangles and unravels their new love, the comic singing and dancing performances in Steam Heat, Think of the Time I Save, Hernando’s Hideaway, propels the story to its happy conclusion: Vernon imagines marriage with Gladys in a silent film of comic indiscretions and Sid learns the secret of Hasler’s hidden funds to resolve the pay raise dispute. Once all is well, Sid and Babe, even Vernon and Gladys, are reconciled and the Pajama Factory is back in business.


    Congratulations to everyone for a fine performance every night!