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Pump Boys and Dinettes
a Musical
by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann

COMPANY : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
ID# 2291

SHOWING : July 13, 2007 - August 12, 2007



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. They perform on guitars, piano, bass, and even kitchen utensils. This homespun musical doesn't merely celebrate the value of friendship and life's simple pleasures, it embodies them.

Artistic Director Robert Egizio
Director Jeff McKerley
Musical Director Linda Uzelac
Sound Design Dan Bauman
Lighting Design Tom Gillespie
Production/Stage Manager Courtney Loner
Scenic Design Chuck Welcome
Jackson Dolph Amick
Eddie Dan Bauman
Prudie Cupp Bethany Irby
Rhetta Cupp Marcie Millard
Jim Matt Nitchie
L.M. Mark W. Schroeder
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Song(s) of the South...
by line!
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Pump Boys & Dinettes is another one of what appears to be Stage Door Players’ favorite format this season: the “musical review”. It’s not a full-fledged musical with a plot and scenes, but more of a series of vignettes designed to introduce the songs. Like “The Taffetas” before it, it is an amalgam of tunes wrapped in a theme, with just a wisp of a storyline. This show’s purpose is to entertain, not to tell a story. And, by God, entertain it does! It is a lightweight bit of fluff, but that doesn’t stop it from being wonderfully entertaining.

Loosely set in a male/female gender divided “Mayberry”-like world of “The South” where the men work at “The Filling Station” and the women work at “The Diner”. The women are clever, cook the food and keep the men on the straight and narrow, while the men are fundamentally lazy, forgetful and have a fondness for liquor. The women are lonesome (but not horny) and the men are dumb (but not stupid). But each and every character has a heart of gold and is just happy to be who they are and where they are (no matter how clichéd it may be)!

Unlike “The Taffetas” the songs in this one are all original to the show. Many are “throwaways” but there are a few tunes that come across quite well (a personal favorite was “Vacation”). As I have said before, a musical without memorable music can’t hope to succeed. It doesn’t have to have a good plot, but it absolutely has to have good music and “Pump Boys” has that in spades!

A great deal of the credit for the success of this one goes to the cast. They are the band AND the singers AND the dancers! There is a long standing joke about musicians (especially guitar and bass players) that says the reason they play is because they can’t dance. While the choreography has more in common with 80’s MTV than with Broadway, the fact that director Jeff McKerly got musicians to move at all (let alone in time and in unison – while playing and singing) was an impressive accomplishment. (They don’t bump into each other or anything!)

As for the singing…the voices were strong across the board! The ensemble blend was good. The harmonies were strong and the projection over the instrumentation was very good. The guys were good. The girls were even better. This show is about the music and this production keeps its focus on the music and doesn’t disappoint.

Many of the cast are transplants from Mr. McKerley’s preceding show “Cabaret” at the Shakespeare Tavern. These folks were part of a strong ensemble in that show and I can see why he cast them here also. Matt Nitchie’s performance here is solid, on point and thoroughly entertaining. Mark Schroeder once again demonstrates his dexterity by playing multiple instruments and delivers two of the standout songs in the show. In the second act his “The Night Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine” moves from a campy joke to a sincere ode thanks to his talent and wonderful voice.

I am at a loss for words when it comes to Bethany Irby and Marcie Millard. Individually they are impressive, but together, they combine to form something greater than the sum of their talent. They each have a commanding stage presence, great voices and give their all to their performances. A real treat for any audience!

The non-Cabaret members of the cast are Dolph Amick and Dan Bauman. I have a special place in my heart for these guys because they are gigging musicians. Their playing was tight, their singing was good, but above all else, their attitude was the epitome of “cool”. They were the icing on the show!

Now to the folks you don’t get to see onstage…

Director Jeff McKerly did a smart thing here: he let the show be what it was: Simple, Corny, White, Straight and an excuse to break into song at any moment. I know Jeff is from Alabama, and his roots and love for these “southern” characters shines through (even though the characters felt more like the Carolinas, not the “Deep South” to me). Jeff’s direction in “Pump Boys” is a prime example of good work: he doesn’t change, or get in the way, of the material. He enhances it.

While she wasn’t physically accompanying this show this time, Musical Director Linda Uzelac once again showed why she is revered and respected in our theatre community. It was obvious that an incredible amount of work was put in on the performance of the songs. The performers knew the music well and performed it with confidence, enthusiasm and comfort. Somehow I think that can be attributed to many hours of rehearsal under Linda’s skilled eyes and ears. I will admit I missed seeing her playing along just offstage (maybe she’s playing along at home each night).

Now that Chuck Welcome is officially an old man (he recently turned 40), I have to be kind and forgive him for any mistakes or bad judgment in his set designs. The set was a schizophrenic dichotomy of Diner interior and back porch exterior which, when viewed before the show began, left the audience confused. However, when you added actors, storyline and songs the set worked perfectly for the show! Was it a lucky break or an intentional design choice? Hmmmmm? Once again, Chuck has demonstrated his mastery of set design and construction on a budget. Form, function and budget combined to present a perfect vista for this production. Not bad for an old guy!

If you are expecting musical feats or big production numbers, “Pump Boys” is not for you. If, however, you are out for a totally satisfying evening of cornpone characters, featherweight storylines, and heavyweight talent, take Highway 57 to Stage Door’s “Pump Boys and Dinettes”!
Get a shot before you see Pump Boys and Dinettes.....
by green2u
Sunday, July 15, 2007
....because it's infectious! Right when I'm griping about lack of good theatre in Atlanta, Stage Door Players pulls off a charmer of a production. It's sassy. It's feel good. It's damn good with a cast that is loving every minute of their time onstage as we the audience love being there to soak it all in (and a standing ovation at the end was a no-brainer).

Pump Boys hit Broadway right around the time musicals with no plot, like Ain't Misbehavin' were making their debut. Yet Pump Boys is not a musical revue per se; you get to know these folks through song, their relationships with each other. In the wrong hands Pump Boys could be a mess. You have to have a cast who's dedicated to the relationships through song and this ensemble is truly committed to the work. Director Jeff McKerley has kept it in check so it doesn't get too mushy on the more sentimental numbers.

Most of the actors have powerhouse vocals, particularly Marcie Millard, Bethany Irby, and Dolph Amick. And while not as vocally powerful as the threesome, Matt Nitchie more than makes up for it in style. He's a charmer. He impressed me eons ago in Private Lives at Theatre Decatur and he's never failed to delight me in his varied roles over the years. This role is no exception. And there should be a law against looking so good when wearing a baseball cap backwards.

Group harmonies are particularly effective and quite a few numbers are a cappella. Linda Uzelac is to be commended.

And almost upstaging the performances is Chuck Welcome's set. Authentic,solid fun and very playable for the actors. The man never fails to amaze in his set designs. He is an actor's set designer.

So dust off the cowboy boots and calico dresses and high-tail it to Stage Door Players! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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