Now playing at the Paper Mill Playhouse is a perfect musical as spring begins its arrival in New Jersey. “Pump Boys and Dinettes” is a lighthearted show that is filled with enjoyable music that just seems to fit this time of the year as the new season starts to make its appearance. It is good entertainment for the entire family.
“Pump Boys and Dinettes” was conceived and written by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann. This current production is directed by John Foley with choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter. “Pump Boys and Dinettes” premiered off Broadway in 1981 and moved to Broadway in 1982 where it garnered Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for Best Musical.
The storyline of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” revolves around life by a roadside stop on North Carolina’s Highway 57. The towns mentioned are Frog Level and Smyrna and this stop is somewhere between them. There are four hardworking men at the roadside gas station. Not only do they pump gas, but they also do some auto repairs and maybe throw back a brew or two as they work. Next door is the Double Cupp Diner run by the Cupp sisters. They offer delicious home cooking and some very fine home baked pies. The plot looks at their everyday lives and the stories are told through the songs that are sung with music provided right on stage by the actors who do all the playing, singing, dancing, and acting. Musical instruments include guitars, an upright bass, piano, small accordions, and a variety of kitchenware including pots, wooden spoons, and even a cheese grater.
The stories are very basic and its simplicity allows the beauty of everyday life to shine through. Perhaps the biggest problem was when one of the pump boys stood up one of the Cupp sisters for a date/outing to a ball game. This tension is rather quickly resolved and one has to feel the joy of seeing life so easy going. The music is a mix of country, rock, and even touches of rhythm and blues with a Southern flair. Some of the songs are really clever as they tell their tales.
The hardworking but well performing cast includes James Barry (Jim), Gabe Bowling (Jackson), Julie Foldesi (Prudie Cupp), Jason Ostrowski (L.M.), Alysha Umphress (Rhetta Cupp) and Sam Weber (Eddie). To see more photos of the cast in action and at the Opening Night Curtain Call, visit the Facebook page of Let’s Go to the Theater.
“Pump Boys and Dinettes” will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday. The performance schedule is Wednesday at 7:30 pm, Thursday at 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm, Friday at 8:00 pm, Saturday at 1:30 pm and 8:00 pm and Sunday at 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.PaperMill.org.
Groups of 10 or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680. College students may order $20 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office on the day of the performance.
The Paper Mill Playhouse also provides Access Services and some special performances:
- Audio Described Performances for “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will he held on Saturday, April 30 at 1:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 1 at 1:30 p.m. On the day of these performances, a Sensory Seminar is provided at 12:00 p.m.
- A Sign-Interpreted and Open Captioned Performance of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will be held on Sunday, May 1 at the 7:00 p.m. show.
The Paper Mill Playhouse will run Free Audience Enrichment Activities for “Pump Boys and Dinettes.”
- April 6 at 6:30 p.m. – The Director’s Viewpoint will be held in the Art Gallery. Enjoy coffee as director John Foley discusses “Pump Boys and Dinettes.”
- April 7, 14, 21, and 28 at 6:30p.m. The Conversation Club meets in Mezzanine. Learn more about the show you are about to see led by members of the Paper Mill’s Artistic and Education Departments
- April 30 following the Matinee a Q&A with the Cast will be held in the Orchestra section of the theater. Meet the cast and ask actors questions about the show or the role they are portraying.