The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) provided educational and recreational opportunities for its members, in order to enrich workers' lives with more than just the material benefits the union provided. In New York City, the ILGWU owned the Labor Stage (formerly the Princess Theatre), using it as a recreation center for union members. The Labor Stage presented shows for and by union workers, mostly serious, pro-union, cause-driven productions.
With Pins & Needles, the ILGWU brought in professionals including composer and lyricist Harold Rome, and aimed for a lighter tone. The songs and sketches still addressed the concerns of workers and of other current events, but with humor. Performed entirely by union members who maintained their day jobs the revue opened in 1937, and soon drew audiences beyond other union members to become a smash hit.
|Christine Wade, Elena Glass, Kenyai O'Neal, and Paul Coate.
The songs are clever and catchy, especially "Sitting on Your Status Quo" and "Sunday in the Park" and "Nobody Makes a Pass at Me," sung with gusto by Glass. Though Cindy Polich's book doesn't bring the show fully into the present, some of the issues of unions are still relevant today, as the performers, all members of Actors Equity, are surely aware.
Theatre Elision has put on a delightful revue, performed in one 75 minute act. With pay-what-you-can pricing for all tickets and free parking at the Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, there's no reason to miss this show, performing just through September 16.
For a sample, check out the rehearsal video of the number, "Sunday in the Park," (which actually landed on the Hit Parade) on Theatre Elision's Facebook page.