The Pajama Game
A union strike at a pajama factory generates plenty of steam heat in this toe-tapping, comedic love story.
Show Essentials
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Full Synopsis

Act One

The curtain rises on the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Hines, the company's Time Study man, introduces the audience to the story ("The Pajama Game"). He reveals a factory shop floor, where there is a double row of sewing machines. Hines hurries the seamstresses to finish their work. Prez, the Union President, enters and flirts with two of the female workers. Joe, a factory worker, asks Prez about the status of the union's demand for a seven-and-a-half-cent raise. If they do not get the raise, the workers will strike.

Hasler, the head of the company, enters, accusing one of the seamstresses of wasting material and yelling at another to turn off the lights. Hasler's secretary, Gladys, enters, and Hines confesses to the audience that he is in love with her. Hasler demands that Gladys write a letter to the Board of Directors, stating that the raise is unnecessary. The workers complain about Hines, the speed of the production line and their need for the raise ("Racing with the Clock"); they also discuss the attractive new superintendent, Sid Sorokin.

Sid enters with some helpers and begins to fix a machine. Rather than helping, the men agitate Sid and he pushes one of them. The helper claims that he's been injured and goes to file a complaint with the Grievance Committee. Sid laments the difficulty of having moved to a new town for his job, but he is determined to make the best of it, even when Hasler enters and reprimands him ("A New Town Is a Blue Town").

The Grievance Committee – Babe Williams, Brenda and Mae – enters. Babe questions Sid about the pushing incident while he flirts with her. Hines tells Sid that Hasler wants to see him in his office. The break ends as the women re-enter, complaining again about the pace of the work ("Racing with the Clock – Reprise"). While Joe complains to Prez about the slow progress of the raise negotiations, Babe tells the other women that she knows the pushed worker wasn't hurt. The women tease Babe about how she seemed to notice how attractive Sid is. She denies this, saying that he is really not her type ("I'm Not at All in Love").

Gladys enters Sid's office; Mabel, Sid's secretary, sits at her desk. Poopsie enters, selling tickets to the annual company picnic. Hines enters and Poopsie asks him if he is planning to do his knife-throwing act at the picnic. After Poopsie leaves, Gladys puts a note on Sid's desk; Hines again accuses her of flirting with Sid. They get into another argument, which ends when Gladys again storms out. Mabel scolds Hines about his jealousy. When he promises that he won't be jealous again, Mabel makes up different provocative scenarios that involve Gladys and other men to see if he can control his jealousy ("I'll Never Be Jealous Again").

Hasler enters, complaining about the workers. He yells at Gladys when he sees that the company ledger book is out on her desk; it is supposed to be locked away. Elsewhere, Sid asks Mabel questions about Babe. Mabel tells him that she was engaged to be married, once. Sid calls Prez and asks him to send the Grievance Committee – Babe – up to his office. Mabel leaves; Sid asks Babe out on a date. Babe refuses him because he represents management while she represents labor. Sid is disappointed, both with her response and with himself for falling for her ("Hey, There").

Everyone enters for the company picnic. Prez begins flirting with Gladys, telling her that she is beautiful and that his wife doesn't understand him, but she rejects him ("Her Is"). The workers then sing the company song ("Sleep-Tite"). Prez introduces Hasler, who speaks about the dangers of rising production costs. Sid flirts with Babe as some of the couples participate in the three-legged race. Hines, who has been drinking, begins his knife-throwing act; Gladys scolds him as he throws. Hines calls for a volunteer to stand with an apple while Hines throws his knives at it. Babe gladly volunteers. Sid, nervous about Babe, stops the exhibition. Babe agrees to take a walk with him. Sid and the company revel in how much they are enjoying the picnic ("Once-a-Year-Day"). As the picnic begins to wind down, Prez flirts with Mae, who accepts his advances ("Her Is – Reprise").

Sid visits Babe and her father, Pop, at their house. When Pop leaves for his railroad job, he gives Sid his stamp collection to examine. Babe offers to make them an omelet. Sid complains that Babe is using small talk to avoid him, which she denies ("Small Talk"). They kiss. Babe warns Sid that the issue of the raise will come between them, but he disagrees because he loves her and she loves him.

Later, Prez tells the workers that Hasler has called a meeting with the union leaders for the next day. Babe enters and tells them that, because she has a date with Sid, she won't be joining them after work. Sid enters and they reaffirm their love ("There Once Was a Man").

Hasler refuses to give the workers the raise. Prez calls for a production slowdown, and all the women at the machines begin working in slow motion. Hines enters and demands that they speed up ("Racing with the Clock – Reprise"). When Babe causes a breakdown in the entire production line, Sid fires her and tells himself to forget her ("Hey, There – Reprise").

Act Two

Prez leads a union meeting. At the end of his speech, Gladys and two male assistants provide the evening's song and dance entertainment ("Steam Heat").

Later, Prez and a group of workers hold a meeting in Babe's kitchen to discuss ways of forcing Hasler to give in to their demands. Pop comes home as the meeting is breaking up. He tells Babe that he ran into Sid – whom she has not seen since her firing – at the corner tavern and has invited him to come over. When Sid arrives, he tells her that he loves her and that they should continue going out together despite the fact that they're on opposite sides of the wage dispute. She disagrees with him and goes to her bedroom, where she concedes to herself that she does love Sid, but is confused about what to do.

Back at the factory, Hines explains to the women in the factory how much the slowdown upsets him because, as a Time Study man, living his life by the clock is very important to him ("Think of the Time I Save"). We shift to Sid's office. He is on the phone while Mabel reads outrageous tabloid headlines. Hasler enters and reiterates that he will not give in to the workers' demands. Max, one of Sleep-Tite's regional salesmen, enters; he shows them that the pajama pants are defective. Sid realizes that there are not enough stitches in the waistbands; Hasler accuses the workers of sabotage. After reminding Gladys of the Board of Directors' meeting set for the next day, Hasler gives her a new notation for the ledger book. When Hasler exits, Sid tries to convince Gladys to let him have the key to the book by flirting with her. She accepts his offer and tells him that she knows the perfect place for a date – a secret club that can only be entered after three knocks on the door, followed by a special message ("Hernando's Hideaway").

Prez and Babe enter Hernando's Hideaway as Sid and Gladys have a drink. Babe's view of Sid is blocked by other customers, but he sees her as he and Gladys get up to dance. He sits down very quickly. Gladys, who hasn't seen Babe, tries to entice Sid to the dance floor by loaning him the ledger book key for the evening. When Babe sees them, she comes to their table and tells them to watch out for Hines, who is in another jealous rage. Hines enters, drunk and brandishing his knives. He confronts Gladys, who walks out angrily after telling him that she's glad that she never married him. Hines plops into a chair and imagines what married life with Gladys would be like. He imagines Gladys with a series of ever-changing suitors with whom she plays around while he goes off to work ("The Jealousy Ballet"). In his imagination, Mabel appears in an angel outfit to remind Hines of his earlier vow to trust Gladys, but he is still jealous of the imaginary men.

The next morning, Charley tells Sid that the union committee is there to see him before their big union rally, which is scheduled for that same day. Sid, who has been reading the ledger book all night, tells Charley to send them in; he calls Hasler and asks him to come to his office. Sid tells the committee that he thinks he has found a solution to the wage dispute. Prez tells Sid that the workers are ready to strike if an agreement isn't reached. Sid asks to speak to Babe. He tries to make up with her, but she again refuses him because of the job dispute; she does, however, agree to meet him after the union rally. She exits.

Gladys enters to warn Sid that Hines is looking for him. Hines appears at the door, aims his knife and then disappears before Sid or Gladys sees him. As soon as Gladys tells Sid that she heard something, a knife hits the wall near Sid's head. They duck as more knives fly through the air. Hasler enters as a knife just narrowly misses him; he is convinced that Chicago gangsters are after him. As they continue to duck from the knives, the union rally begins. 

Sid exits with a window opener in his hand and soon enters with Hines, who now has a bruise from the window opener on his forehead. Hines tells them that he was only trying to scare Sid; Gladys exits with Hines to bandage his head. Sid threatens to go to the Board of Directors' meeting to tell them that Hasler has been falsifying the ledger book: he has discovered that Hasler has already added the cost of the raise to the production costs, but hasn't given it to the workers. He will also reveal to the Board that the slowdown from the dispute has already lost the company customers.

At the union rally, Brenda tells Prez and some of the workers that she saw Hasler going into Sid's office. When she asks if they will win if they strike, Prez tells her that they will; he and Babe explain to all of the workers how much the raise adds up to over five, ten and twenty years ("Seven and a-Half Cents").

Sid enters and tells them that Hasler will give in to the seven-and-a-half-cent raise if they agree not to ask for the raise, retroactively. Babe hugs and kisses Sid and they proclaim how much they love one another ("There Once Was a Man – Reprise"). Hines tells everyone that Hasler and the union are hosting a party at the most exclusive club in town.

Back at Hernando's Hideaway, Max introduces the "Sleep-Tite Pajama Parade," which includes Mabel, Mae and Prez modeling pajamas. Hines and Gladys appear in pajamas. Hines reveals that he now trusts Gladys. As she tries to move towards two male dancers, Hines pulls her back with a chain. Sid and Babe enter; she is in pajama tops, he in pajama bottoms. They explain that married life is fun. The entire ensemble then expresses their happiness about working together in the pajama factory ("The Pajama Game – Reprise").

← Back to The Pajama Game
Cast Size: Medium (11 to 20 performers)
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Time study man at Sleep Tite. He is the jealous type, but has a kind heart and a talent in knife-throwing. Surprisingly soft around the edges.
Gender: male
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: B2
President of the union at Sleep Tite. He is not the brightest person. A notorious flirt and womanizer who constantly regrets his marriage.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: F#4
Vocal range bottom: Db3
The president at Sleep Tite. Fiscally conservative, he is demanding, stubborn, and uptight.
Gender: male
Age: 50 to 60
Mr. Hasler's secretary. Her penchant for nights out on the town, along with her sexy demeanor, often lands her in hot water with men. Gladys is an exceptional dancer.
Gender: female
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: Ab3
Sid Sorokin
New superintendent at Sleep Tite. He is a charming, productive worker. Adamant about retaining his job and improving his job performance.
Gender: male
Age: 25 to 30
Vocal range top: Ab4
Vocal range bottom: B2
Sid's secretary. Her earnestness can occasionally melt into crassness, but she is always very aware of the happenings at Sleep Tite.
Gender: female
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Babe Williams
The leader of the UNion Grievance Committee, who against her own will at first, falls in love with Sid. Strong, feisty, a little stubborn, and full of pride for the union but also charming and sensitive. The unspoken leader of the workers and women who work at the factory.
Gender: female
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Female Factory Workers (Brenda, Mary, Mera, Poopsie, Rita), Male Factory Workers (Charley, Joe), Other Employees Of Sleep Tite
Full Song List
The Pajama Game: The Pajama Game
The Pajama Game: Racing With The Clock
The Pajama Game: A New Town Is A Blue Town
The Pajama Game: I'm Not At All In Love
The Pajama Game: I'll Never Be Jealous Again
The Pajama Game: Hey There
The Pajama Game: Her Is
The Pajama Game: Sleep-Tite
The Pajama Game: Once A Year Day
The Pajama Game: Small Talk
The Pajama Game: There Once Was A Man
The Pajama Game: Steam Heat
The Pajama Game: Think Of The Time I Save
The Pajama Game: Hernando's Hideaway
The Pajama Game: Jealousy Ballet
The Pajama Game: Seven-And-A-Half Cents
The Pajama Game: The Pajama Game Finale

Show History


In 1953, Robert Griffith (who worked with Hal Prince in the George Abbott production office) read a New York Times review of Richard Bissell's novel, 7 1/2 Cents. Griffith called Prince and asked him to read the book quickly. Prince liked the book and he and Griffith quickly obtained the stage rights; this would be their first show as a producing team. They showed the book to George Abbott in the hopes of contracting him to direct the as-yet-unwritten and unnamed show. Abbott, at first uninterested, agreed to direct if a talented playwright could be found to adapt the novel.

They were turned down by the many major book writers, composers and lyricists that they approached, apparently all put off by the prospect of writing a humorous show about a labor strike at the same time that the McCarthy Senate Committee was destroying the careers of many artists. Abbott thought of the title, The Pajama Game, and suggested to Prince and Griffith that he and Bissell co-write the book of the show. Bissell agreed and moved his family from Dubuque, Iowa.

After turning it down himself, composer, Frank Loesser, recommended Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, newcomers who had written most of the songs in the 1953 revue, John Murray Anderson's Almanac, and the 1953 pop song hit, "Rags to Riches." In two days, they wrote four songs on "spec," (meaning for no money). They were hired, and all four songs were later used in the show. The rest of the songs were written in five weeks.


The Pajama Game is a musical based on the Richard Bissell novel, 7 1/2 Cents. It features a score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross with a book by Bissel and co-director, George Abbott. In the original production, Jerome Robbins was credited as the other co-director, with choreography by Bob Fosse.

Following successful pre-Broadway runs in New Haven and Boston, The Pajama Game opened at the St. James Theatre in New York on May 13, 1954, to great reviews. It starred John Raitt as Sid Sorokin, Janis Paige as Babe Williams, Eddie Foy, Jr., as Hines and Carol Haney as Gladys. The show closed in 1956 after 1,063 performances, becoming only the eighth musical in Broadway history to run over 1,000 performances. In conjunction with its initial Broadway run, the show toured for two years with Larry Douglass and Fran Warren playing Sid and Babe.

The original London West End production opened at the London Coliseum on October 13, 1955, where it ran for 588 performances.

Then, in 1957, Warner Bros. released a film version starring most of the original Broadway cast except for Janis Paige, who was replaced by Doris Day.

There have been three New York revivals of the show. The first was in 1957 at the New York City Center. The Pajama Game was next revived in 1973 (directed by George Abbott), starring Hal Linden, Barbara McNair and Cab Calloway. Roundabout Theatre Company produced a 2006 Broadway revival  (directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall), starring Harry Connick, Jr., Kelli O'Hara and Michael McKean. The revival included three additional songs by Richard Adler. The original book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell was revised by Peter Ackerman.

In 2014, a 21-week limited engagement revival began in London's West End under the direction of Richard Eyre.

Along with these high-profile productions, The Pajama Game has become a classic and favorite among regional, educational and community theatres throughout the country.

Cultural Influence

  • When first-choice choreographer, Jerome Robbins, was unable to do the show, Joan McCracken, a Broadway performer, recommended her husband, Bob Fosse, as choreographer. Fosse had appeared as a dancer in Broadway shows and films and wanted to begin choreographing for Broadway. Thus began the choreographic career of the legendary Bob Fosse.
  • A then-unknown Shirley MacLaine, who understudied Carol Haney in the role of Gladys, was discovered and signed to a deal at Paramount Pictures by Hollywood producer, Hal Wallis, when he happened to be in the audience on a night that she went on for Haney.
  • In addition to the film, The Pajama Game has spawned five soundtrack recordings, including those from the movie cast, the original Broadway cast, the revival Broadway cast, the London studio cast and the original London cast.


  • In addition to awards won, The Pajama Game was nominated for another six Drama Desk Awards, seven Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Outstanding Revival of a Musical at both of those ceremonies, and seven Tony Awards.
  • The Pajama Game had 164 investors for its initial Broadway run, including members of the chorus and backstage employees.
  • Prince and Griffith were so short of money that they functioned as their own stage managers, both to save money and to draw salaries. Because of this, neither Prince nor Griffith actually saw the show from the audience until months into the Broadway run.
  • Two of the songs, "There Once Was a Man" and "A New Town Is a Blue Town," were actually written by Frank Loesser, although they were not credited.
  • The song, "The World Around Us," was part of the 1954 Broadway previews and opening, but was dropped during the first week of the Broadway run, replaced by Babe's reprise of "Hey There." This would leave Sid with no songs in the second act, aside from the "There Once was a Man" reprise. The number was restored for the 2006 Broadway revival, allowing star Harry Connick, Jr., to have a second-act song.
  • For the 1973 revival, in place of the second-act song, "Hey There" reprise, there was a new number, "Watch Your Heart." Retitled "If You Win, You Lose," the song has been heard in recent productions of the show and was heard in the 2006 Broadway production.
  • Originally approached by legendary author/director, George Abbott, to pen the score for The Pajama Game, Frank Loesser turned it down, but recommended his two protégés, Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, for the job.

Critical Reaction

"Delicious....  A show that goes down as easily and intoxicatingly as spiked lemonade at a summer picnic... an immortal pop-hit-spawning score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross."
– New York Times

"Although this glorious, exuberant musical is set in President Eisenhower's America, it strikes plenty of sparks in the twenty-first century."
– Time Out

"Feels like one of the most zingingly entertaining tune-and-toe shows you have ever seen."
– The Telegraph

"Dynamic... joyous.... Refreshing... an original theme reinforced by a sense of tradition."
– The Guardian

Tony® Award

1955 - Musical, Winner (George Abbott and Richard Bissell (book), Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (lyrics), Frederick Brisson, Robert Griffith, Harold S. Prince (producers))
1955 - Best Musical, Winner (The Pajama Game)
1955 - Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Winner (Carol Haney)
1955 - Best Choreography, Winner (Bob Fosse)
1955 - Supporting Or Featured Musical Actress, Winner (Carol Haney)
1955 - Choreographer, Winner (Bob Fosse)

Drama Desk Award

1989 - Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Richard Muenz)



Based on the novel, 7 1/2 Cents by Richard Bissell


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