noreSERVations at “Pajama Game”

May 27, 2010

By nhfnews columnist Will L.

Last night in Manhattan, the hottest ticket in town wasn’t to Wicked at the Gershwin Theater or to West Side Story at the Palace Theater.  Crowds left Broadway and were flocking to Simon Baruch Middle School’s production of Pajama Game at M.S. 104.  Fortunately for us, NHF decided to send us to experience the show firsthand.  When we arrived at the box office, the ticket cashier asked us, “Do you have a reservation?” – to which our response was “noreSERVations.”  With playbills in hand and no reservations, we walked into the packed theater and thoroughly enjoyed the 9th annual production from Gramercy’s most beloved director, Ken Ko.

We knew we had a special evening in store for us when the director gave a touching speech to introduce the show.  In his speech, Ken thanked the parents for allowing him to work with their children for the past five months.  It was evident that Ken had grown to love each of them in a special way through their rehearsal time together.  In his recounting of the audition experience, Ken recalled the feeling he had every time a student tried out and he realized that they were the perfect choice for a part.  Ken described the feeling as a voice inside him exclaiming, “THAT’S THE ONE!”  His story gave us a sense of the deep connection he has with his students.

 Ken’s heartwarming speech had the audience moved with emotion and grown men crying (or maybe just me), but the show provided enough humor and singing to quickly turn our tears to laughter.  The special effects used in a scene where a boy is putting on a show by throwing knifes right around his sweetheart who is standing against a wood board had us gasp in horror.  But nothing surprised us more than the numerous romantic scenes, many of which involved…kissing!  Sure, the kissing was staged, but I can’t help but wonder how much practice it took to make those scenes convincing.

Afterwards, the noreSERVations group strolled along the busy New York streets to an authentic late night bowl of ramen near Union Square. For those of you who missed out, you’ll get another chance next year as we continue our annual event. 

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