- If you want to just sit back and enjoy the antics and talents of six talented
musicians, then “Pump Boys and Dinettes” is the recipe for pure enjoyment.
show started out as a country music concert in 1981, but it soon evolved into a
nostalgic re-creation of the late ‘30s when the highways were dotted with gas
stations and diners. Though the story is slim, the music is so well-executed
that one soon forgets that there’s not much gas pumping or car repairing going
on or much slaving over a hot stove either. This show epitomizes itself in one
of the opening numbers, “Taking It Slow.”
four men do most of the instrumental work, except for the percussive
contributions of Rhetta and Prudie, the Cupp sisters, via their pots and pans.
But all six members of the cast sing in various configurations.
set design by Brandon Ribardy is eye-catching, and the costuming by Shima Orans
inspired. As the lights dim, we are greeted by Jim (Greg Flattery), and before
we are fully settled in our seats, we are whisked back in time in a rhythmic
whirl of piano, fiddle, guitar, bass, mandolin, accordion, a few kitchen
utensils and lots of singing.
of the performers - Paul Helm and Andrew Crowe - also have comedic skills, as
highlighted in several tunes: Helm’s tribute to Dolly Parton in “The Night
Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine” and “Farmer’s Tan” and Crowe’s tribute
to Mona, a cashier at Woolworth’s. Often Helm, Flattery and Crowe performed as
a trio, “Fisherman’s Prayer” being a good example. The bass player, Tommy
Hahn, has a beautiful voice and should have been featured more as a soloist.
was very well rendered by the hardworking owners of the diner. Anyone who has
ever waitressed could relate to their plea for recompense. We didn’t empathize
as much with the pump boys who seemed more interested in fishing and drinking,
but we were glad they took time off to entertain us with their music.
moved us with his remembrances of his grandma in “Mamaw” and the Cupp
sisters, Molly Rhode and Samantha Sostarich, had a sentimental ballad about
sisters who are good friends. But apart from those two tender pieces, the
repertoire was largely packed with upbeat tunes.
rousing tribute to country music in its many emerging forms, director Bill
Theisen, along with Richard Carsey, who directed the music, gifted us with a
memorable show. Since the Skylight Opera Company changed its name to Skylight
Music Theatre, it has expanded its offerings to include a wide variety of
musical entertainment. I think the company now appeals to a broader audience.
you’ve never checked out the Skylight in the Cabot Theatre space (the most
beautiful little theatre around), this might be a good introduction.
Boys and Dinettes” continues through Sunday at the Cabot Theatre, 158 N.
Broadway. As an added bonus, there is a free cabaret show in the upstairs bar
following the Friday and Saturday evening performances. Call 414-291-7800 for
show times and tickets or visit www.skylightmusictheatre.org