Jim, Jackson, L.M. and Eddie run the rural gas station. When the guys are not tinkering on Uncle Bob’s Winnebago, they’re hanging out at the Double Cupp Diner next door — run by sisters Rhetta and Prudie Cupp. The blue-plate special is high-octane music along with biscuits and pecan pie. The tunes are performed on guitars, piano, bass, harmonica, tambourine and even kitchen utensils.
“Pump Boys & Dinettes” previews Thursday, Aug. 21, opens Friday, Aug. 22, and runs through Sept. 21, at Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Ave., Curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets cost $12 for the preview. All other tickets cost $27; $25 for seniors and students. Reserved seating costs an additional $2. A pay-what-you-can performance will be offered at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27. Tickets can be purchased from noon to 5 p.m. at the box office, online at www.camelotheatre.org, by calling 541-535-5250, or at the door one hour before performances.
“This show is just pure fun,” says Livia Genise, Camelot’s artistic director. She first saw “Pump Boys & Dinettes” years ago in a theater in Los Angeles and has always wanted to bring it to Camelot Theatre.
"I'm so lucky to have actors who not only create characters but also play instruments, sing and dance at the same time. Now that's a challenge," says Genise, who directs the Camelot production. Choreography is by Holly Neinhaus, and music direction is by Karl Iverson.
“The show’s even got a musical number where Kendra Taylor performs in sneakers on roller skates,” Genise adds.
Along with Taylor and Iverson, the cast includes Sarah Brizek, Peter Spring, Steve Sutfin, Tyler Ward and Bob Jackson Miner.
“Bob Jackson plays lead guitar and harmonica,” Genise says. “Karl Iverson plays the accordion. We’ve added a lot more harmonica and the accordion to the music arrangements.”
“Pump Boys & Dinettes,” with book, music and lyrics by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann, evolved out of a New York City lounge act in the late ‘70s. Hardwick and Wann were playing piano and guitar in the bar at the western-themed Cattleman Restaurant. To vary the act, they began dressing in funny outfits, and it was the gas station get-ups that got the most response. Wann started writing original songs for the skit, and when Wann’s wife, Morgan, and friends Monk, Foley and Schimmel joined in, the idea for a full-fledged musical revue took shape.
“Pump Boys & Dinettes” opened in 1981 at the Chelsea West Side Arts Theatre, moved to the Colonnades Theatre in Greenwich Village later that year, and then to Broadway in February 1982. It earned a Tony Award for Best Musical and a Drama Desk nomination.
Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at email@example.com.