When Harry Met Kelli: The Pajama Game Begins Previews Jan. 19

News   When Harry Met Kelli: The Pajama Game Begins Previews Jan. 19
Harry Connick, Jr., and Kelli O'Hara will enter negotiations Jan. 19, when the new Kathleen Marshall revival of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross' The Pajama Game begins previews at the American Airlines Theatre. Opening is Feb. 23.

Harry Connick, Jr. at a press preview for The Pajama Game.
Harry Connick, Jr. at a press preview for The Pajama Game. Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Connick (composer of Broadway's Thou Shalt Not) is Sid Sorokin and O'Hara (Tony nominee for The Light in the Piazza) is Babe Williams, the lovesick management and labor chiefs, respectively, at the musical's Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Michael McKean, recently of Hairspray and A Second-Hand Memory, will play Hines. Megan Lawrence, who last summer played Rosario Dawson's saucy sidekick in Kathleen Marshall's Two Gentlemen of Verona in Central Park, will play Gladys, the role played by Carol Haney in the original show.

Also new to the production are Peter Benson as Prez; Joyce Chittick as Mae; Michael McCormick as Pop; Richard Poe as Hasler; and Roz Ryan as Mabel.

Pajama Game is Marshall's third assignment as director-choreographer, following Broadway's Wonderful Town and Central Park's Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The production will feature three songs not heard in the original 1954 staging. One, "The World Around Us," was cut from the show during an out of-town tryout, according to Marshall. She first heard it as a bonus track on the CD reissue of the original cast recording. Sid Sorokin sings it in Act Two. "When You Lose," a second act ballad for Babe, meanwhile, has been used in other productions, but never on Broadway. The third new song, "The Three of Us," was written by Adler for Jimmy Durante in 1960s, but never recorded. It is being employed as a reconciliation song for Hines and Gladys.

The spunky Babe is big change from the mentally challenged youth O'Hara played in Piazza. "This is something I really wanted to do, this kind of character," O'Hara told Playbill.com. "I thought it was important to me, to play a strong, sexy, bold woman. This is a side that I think needs to be seen. I've done a great deal of the other, the young girl that needs a lot of help." Bridget Berger, Stephen Berger, Kate Chapman, Paula Leggett Chase, Jennifer Cody, David Eggers, Michael O’Donnell, Vince Pesce, Devin Richards, Jeffrey Schecter, Amber Stone and Debra Walton round out the cast.

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