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Pump Boys and Dinettes

a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY MUSICAL
by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel, Jim Wann

COMPANY : Lionheart Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : College Street Playhouse
ID# 5503

SHOWING : May 03, 2019 - May 19, 2019

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

The "Pump Boys" sell high octane on Highway 57 in Grand Ole Opry country and the "Dinettes," Prudie and Rhetta Cupp, run the Double Cupp diner next door. Together they fashion an evening of country western songs that received unanimous raves on and off-Broadway. With heartbreak and hilarity, they perform on guitars, piano, bass and, yes, kitchen utensils.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Scott F. Rousseau
Mama Cupp Tanya G Caldwell
LM John Connel
Jim Greg Fitzgerald
Bea Lisa Gordon
Eddie Mark Hyde
Prudie Cupp Courtney Loner
Jackson Paul Milliken
Rhetta Cupp Rachel O'Dell
Dixie Nancy Powell
Dee-Dee Jennifer Smith
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REVIEWS

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Bifurcated Entertainment
by playgoer
Monday, May 20, 2019
4.5
"Oh, what a pretty set!" That’s what I heard from the people behind me when they first sat down. Others, apparently, have inquired if the set is part of a touring production. It certainly is impressive, half service station signs and license plates and half dinette gingham and teal and red and black and white checks. A dotted yellow line on the floor separates the two halves of the set. It gives the eye a lot to look at, yet seems more cluttered than cohesive as a set. But the set isn’t what you’re looking at once the action starts; it’s the actor/singer/dancers.

Scott Rousseau has put together a splendid production of "Pump Boys and Dinettes." The show is a perennial favorite, presented at Lionheart with an expanded cast. In the original, six people both performed and played instruments; here, there are ten performers and a separate three-piece band. While no music director is credited, the flawless a cappella harmonies make it clear that a great deal of musical work has been done to whip the cast into shape. I can only assume that Mr. Rousseau’s duties encompassed all aspects of the production, since he is credited as director, choreographer, and set designer.

Others help in the success of the production, of course. Props (by Mia Fantaci, Rick Fantaci, and Tanya Caldwell) add a lot of color (and percussion!) to the proceedings, and costumes (and wigs!) by Linda Demaris give a nice, finished feel to the whole. Bob Peterson’s sound and Gary White’s lighting subsume themselves to the production, enhancing things without reveling in their own flash, as might be the case in another production. The lighted logo sign above the set is a very nice, professional-looking touch, though.

There’s next to no plot in "Pump Boys and Dinettes," so the performances are what count. There’s not a weak link in the cast Mr. Rousseau has assembled, and the band is pretty darn good too. We have five red-headed women at the dinette and five workers at the service station (one female). The dinette women range from sharp-tongued Mama Cupp (twinkling-eyed Tanya Caldwell) to meekly assertive Bea (guitar-playing powerhouse Lisa Gordon) to lovesick Dixie (perfectly in-character Nancy Lowery Powell) and the duo of Rhetta (sweet-voiced Rachel O’Dell) and Prudie (feisty Courtney Loner). The service station workers include boss LM (hip-waggling deadpan comic John B. Connel), narrator Jim (strong-voiced Gregory Fitzgerald), terse Eddie (stoic Mark Hyde), heartthrob Jackson (the phenomenal Paul Milliken), and female Dee-Dee (the subtly charismatic Jen Smith).

The songs in "Pump Boys and Dinettes" are mostly upbeat country tunes, most with a lot of choral support. Engaging fun is the aim of most of them, and they succeed wildly in that respect. There are a few more serious moments, though. The most affecting is a duet between estranged sisters Rhetta and Dee-Dee; their two voices blend beautifully. At other times, there is sometimes a discrepancy of unamplified volume between voices. But I’ll take that over muddy, over-amplified sound any day!

"Pump Boys and Dinettes" is pretty mindless entertainment, but ad libs in performance make it worth your while to pay close attention to everything going on. Scott Rousseau has created a smorgasbord of theatrical delights, and every single one of the cast is destined to be someone’s favorite. The easy, confident grace of solo performers, the bickeringly believable interplay of the women, the testosterone-heavy camaraderie of the men -- they all add up to a hootin’ hootenanny of down-home fun.
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