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Monday, 29 November, 1999, 12:44 GMT
Game's up for Pajama show
Pajama Game characters Mabel Ellis and Vernon J Hines Antia Dobson and John Helgley belt it out in The Pajama Game

The West End revival of the classic Broadway musical The Pajama Game is to close next month after a run of 11 weeks.

The show, which opened at the Victoria Palace on October 4 and stars Men Behaving Badly's Leslie Ash, is expected to go on a UK tour in 2000/2001.

Men Behaving Badly star Leslie Ash Leslie Ash took over from Ulrika Jonsson
Directed by Four Weddings and a Funeral favourite Simon Callow, it has had a troubled history.

TV golden girl Ulrika Jonsson starred in the original production at Birmingham's Repertory Theatre but quit in July before the show transferred to London, complaining that her voice had felt the strain.

Reviews have also been mixed, then the show's original co-composer Richard Adler added fuel to the fire last week.

"It was unexciting, desultory, garish, unsexy," he was reported to have said. "This show has made me a lot of money over the years, and now its worth is debilitated. I hated it."

The first night at the Victoria Palace didn't go to plan either.

Actress Carol Haney, who was cast as Gladys Hotchiss, was forced out of the opening performance with a foot injury and had to be replaced by her understudy Jenny-Ann Topham.

The production, which also stars former EastEnders actress Anita Dobson and comic poet John Hegley, features the classic songs Steam Heat and Hey There (You With The Stars In Your Eyes).

Set in a pyjama factory, it opened on Broadway in 1954 and made a star of Shirley MacLaine. Doris Day took the role in the 1957 Hollywood movie.

The Pajama Game is not the only West End musical to hit problems in recent months.

The curtain also went down on the award-winning Rent after 18 months at the Shafestbury Theatre on October 30 - the same day as the long-running Miss Saigon.

Disney's The Lion King is a huge success at the Lyceum Box office magic: The Lion King
Miss Saigon had been playing for a decade - in which time it had become British theatre's third most profiatble musical after Cats and Les Miserables.

The news of the latest West End musical casualty will please some critics who argue that musicals are monopolising London's theatres, denying audiences access to drama.

However, the success of shows such as The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Spend, Spend, Spend and Chicago demonstrates that quality production combined with good reviews adds up to a bonanza at the box office
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See also:
22 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Lion King's awards triumph
05 Oct 99 |  Entertainment
Pajama Game pillowtalk
10 Sep 99 |  Entertainment
Rent to end London run
22 Jul 99 |  Entertainment
Ulrika quits stage show

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