October 28, 2011

The University of Central Florida’s production of The Pajama Game won’t just be a showcase for actors. The classic musical also will be a creative channel for fine arts students who are taking the lead on many of the behind-the-scenes elements, from the costumes and choreography to the set design and lighting.

Those roles traditionally are taken on by faculty members, but faculty said they wanted to reward outstanding seniors who have demonstrated exceptional skills.

“The designs for The Pajama Game are equal to those of any faculty designer I’ve worked with in the past, and even professional designers and stage managers I’ve worked with outside of UCF,” said Associate Professor Earl Weaver, Theatre UCF’s production director and co-choreographer.

“It is a true testament to the training students have received from our faculty that they are ready to pursue careers in their chosen fields.”

Cindy Heen, a dance minor, is serving as assistant choreographer for the dance-heavy production, which is about labor troubles at a pajama factory.

Heen fully choreographed four of the dance numbers and worked closely with Weaver to create an overall vision for the musical. She has worked on the production since May, and she drew inspiration from the 1957 film “The Pajama Game” and its recordings.

“I didn’t want to just copy the film’s choreography,” Heen said. “I wanted to be original, so I let the DVD inspire me. I listened to the music and created my own movements.”

Students’ ideas were incorporated into the production from the start, said Kelly-Anne Salazar, a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts Technical Theatre Design Program. Salazar designed the costumes for the musical, which she said has taught her about creative freedom and collaboration.

“Being a student involved with The Pajama Game was such a great learning experience,” Salazar said. “Earl gave us just enough inspiration to get us interested and then let us come up with as many ideas as we could think of.”

By encouraging creative license, Weaver gave students confidence and pushed for greatness, Heen said.

“I am so excited that I was given this opportunity as a student to be creative,” she added. “When you get to do what you love, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Other students heading technical aspects of the production are Benson Knight, scenic design; Maytte Martinez, lighting design; and Shannon A. Jones, student stage manager.

The Pajama Game will be performed on the Main Stage of the Performing Arts Center, room 107 of the Theatre building.

Performances will begin at 8 p.m. Oct. 20-22 and Oct. 27-29. Sunday matinees will begin at 2 p.m. on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.

Tickets prices are $19 for the general public, $17 for seniors and $12 for students with IDs. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 407-823-1500 or by visiting http://theatre.ucf.edu.

Patrons also can get a closer glimpse at the behind-the-scenes work by viewing design renderings of costumes and a model of the set, which will be displayed in the Performing Arts lobby throughout the production’s run.

Originally published by UCF Today