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Quotable Quotes: Partying with Pajama Game Stars

 

WHAT: Opening night of the revival of the classic musical comedy The Pajama Game

WHERE: Bows at the American Airlines Theatre; opening night party the Marriot Marquis

WHEN: Thursday, February 23, 2006

"This is like, crazy great, you know what I mean? I have a lot of friends who are actors on Broadway, and they've told me so many times how great it is, and I'm like, 'It doesn't get boring doing eight shows a week?' and they're like, 'No. One day you'll do it and you'll see.' And I finally get it. I finally get it. Now I know what this is. It's magical. It's like some kind of society; it's a community; it's a family, and it's like nothing else I've ever experienced. It's just tremendous." --Crooner-turned-Broadway-star Harry Connick, Jr., who plays Sid Sorokin, on his first major foray into stage work

"I've always felt like maybe I was born in the wrong time. I'm from Oklahoma; I didn't get to see a lot of live theater. I watched a lot of old movies, listened to a lot of records with my grandparents, and I feel like that just got into me. As opposed to watching American Idol and imitating something like that, I'm imitating something else. So I'm really glad that I'm able to use that finally. You have to look for the right place to use it, and I found it in this show." --Leading lady Kelli O'Hara, who plays Babe Williams

"I love these vintage shows. It's not just that they're from another era; the style of this writing has truth to it, it has exuberance, it has silliness, and somehow it can all live together. You can have a true, romantic love story happening and at the same time you've got crazy, wacky characters throwing knives. It's sort of fun that it can all live in the same place." --Director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall

"I wrote [Kathleen Marshall] a fan letter today. She'll get it tomorrow. She's just done a great, great job. I'm very lucky, because it was originally directed and written by George Abbott, who invented the American musical. He was a great man in the theater. He died several years ago at the age of 107. If it hadn't been for George Abbott, I'd be selling shoes!" --Richard Adler, co-composer and co-lyricist of The Pajama Game along with Jerry Ross

"I had done this show in high school. I was one of the Steam Heat dancers in high school. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Hines, just because he's sort of a lunatic, but it makes sense to himself. And I think that's the way to play a crazy guy. He's not that crazy, either; he's just deeply in love. And he's very good at his job." --Funny man Michael McKean, who plays Hines

"[Kelli O'Hara and Harry Connick, Jr.] have such a good groove together. They have great chemistry together, and whoever plays the lead in a Broadway show always leads the company in a way; it's just part of the job. And Harry Connick is a prodigious talent, he's extraordinarily gifted, but he's a fantastic guy. He's funny, he's appreciative. He's so happy to be doing what he's doing; he just brings it every night. And when your leading man is bringin' it every night, everybody steps up to the plate. And it's a very happy company, because he leads it well." --Peter Benson, who plays Prez, on the leading players in the show

" "It's an old piece, and I really thought it was gonna be kind of boring. But what happened was that in rehearsal, I saw this thing coming to life, and it was funny and it was sexy and it was exciting! And then of course, with Harry, what you see is what you get, baby. Because he is live. He is so live. So he added a whole new element to it. It's turned into this phenomenal, funny, beautiful, sexy piece of work with Kathleen Marshall at the helm. And it's just wonderful. We're having a ball. I don't know if it shows, baby, but we are havin' so much fun!" --Roz Ryan, who plays Mabel

"It's iconic. We're standing behind the curtain, and there's always a moment when we all put our hats on when [Peter Benson] is doing his speech. You put that hat on, and you're like, 'We're doing 'Steam Heat' on Broadway. How much better could that be?!'" -Joyce Chittick, who plays Mae, on performing the famous dance number

"My husband's like, 'You makin' out with Harry today?' Because I kinda feel my way around his body a little bit in ['Hernando's Hideaway']. Not a bad day at work! I've been very lucky, and he's easy. He's a funny guy innately. So he's easy to play off of because he's a goon. He's a total goon." --Megan Lawrence, who plays Gladys, on why she loves her job

"What I love about this show and what I love about these characters is everyone has something they're fighting for. And it really is the sort of the classic American dream, because they're not saying, 'I hate my job and I want to win the lottery and go and buy an island.' They say, 'All I want is my 7 ½ cent raise, and that's enough for me to be living like a king.' And it's really sort of sweet and optimistic in a very American way." --Kathleen Marshall

"I remember telling [Kathleen Marshall] before we even started working together--being a jazz musician, my tendencies are to go left when somebody says go right' And I don't like to feel confined at all. I don't like rehearsing, I don't like planning. I think she sensed that I was unaware of the process, and I was afraid of something I probably shouldn't be afraid of, but nonetheless, she said, 'How would you like to play piano in the show and get to improvise?' and I said, 'That's great! But Sid doesn't play piano.' And she said, 'Well, we're going to work it out so he does.'" --Harry Connick, Jr.

"It's something that I needed to show. It was always there. You do what you're asked to do, what you audition for; The Light in the Piazza and things like that mean everything to me. It's a wonderful side of me that I love to show. When I heard Pajama Game was coming to town, I said, 'I've got to show that side of me.' I'm so excited about it. And I hope you are too." --Kelli O'Hara on transforming from a sweet ingénue in Piazza to the belting Babe Williams in Pajama Game

"Roz [Ryan] is amazing. She's an amazing person. Everybody's seen her do Chicago, Ain't Misbehavin, Jelly's Last Jam, Dreamgirls… she's been around for a while. And yet she never gets older!" --Michael McKean singing the praises of his co-star

"Everybody knows it because someone's brother did it in high school, and I play the part of Prez, and my brother played Prez in high school. And the girl who's my love interest in the show, Mae, her brother played Prez in high school. People also have the experience of going to the show and knowing the songs, but forgetting that they're from this show, and going, 'Oh, yeah! That's a beautiful song! I forgot that was from this show.'" --Peter Benson

"Somebody coined the term 'Geek to Chic.' That's my arc. I'm a wallflower that nobody notices…. Through love I blossom into womanhood and let my true colors show. And my legs show." --Joyce Chittick on her evolutionary role in the show

"[Kathleen Marshall's] homework is done. She knows what she wants, from lights to costumes to everything. It's all very mapped out, and she's very on the ball about what she wants the product to be. It's so nice to have somebody who has a clear vision." --Megan Lawrence, in praise of her director

"I like this [2006 production] the best. I think the kids in it are wonderful. All the principals are great. It works. I have three new numbers in it, so I like those, obviously, or I wouldn't have put 'em in. I'm very happy with it. Considering that it's 52 years old!" --Richard Adler

"Our jammies are kinda cute, ain't they? We did this wonderful thing for Christmas: we all picked a name out of a hat, and we bought each other pajamas and wore them for the first tech. It's just a pajama family." --Roz Ryan

Interviews by Beth Stevens
Compiled by Lyssa Mandel

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