“Pump Boys And Dinettes” Returns To St. Louis At the Playhouse At Westport Plaza

pumplogoI’m not a big fan of country music but “Pump Boys And Dinettes” has always been one of my favorite musicals- actually a musical revue with all original music- an odd duck  but entertaining as can be. Now the Playhouse at Westport Plaza has brought the show back to our town after an absence of many a year and they have assembled a talented cast.

Written in 1982, “Pump Boys” was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical as well as quite a few Drama Desk Awards. It played the Muny in 1992 and I believe it has had one or two other stints in town over the years. Combining a filling station and a short order cafe called The Double Cupp, the musical is just an excuse for stringing some great music together with four guys pumping gas and two girls serving victuals.

Chet Wollan is the “ringleader,” Jim, who does most of the transitional narration and handles a lot of musical instruments along the way. Brandon Fillette is the charmer, LM, who also serves up keyboard (including the ‘cordine) and some of the guitars. Steven Romero Schaeffer is the young buck, Jackson who also handles a few instruments and Ed Avila rounds out the filling station personnel as Ed- bass player and resident stone face.

Candice Lively (Mrs. Chet Wollan in real life) and Jessica Bradley are the Cupp sisters and display amazing singing talent and do some rather articulate percussion work using strainers, spoons and other paraphernalia hanging around the diner. In fact, the singing is the highlight of this production as the harmonies and solo work are all outstanding. Most show their dancing prowess as well including the girls who mingle with the audience at one point and grab a few paying customers to dance in the aisles.

A lot of the tunes are familiar and, at the time the show was written, made it to the “pop” music stations when pop music including songs from musicals were a regular part of their  repertoire. “Be Good Or Be Gone,” “The Best Man” and the delightfully catchy “No Holds Barred” were all part of that pop music phenomenon when songs like “76 Trombones” and “If Ever I Would Leave You” found permanent homes on local radio stations.

pumpDirector Curt Wollan has tied all of this wild and wooly madness into a wonderful package of entertainment. With a busy set and non-stop music, “Pump Boys And Dinettes” is a delightful treat for theatre goers. It has a very limited run- only through February 19th, so contact the folks at playhouseatwestport.com and plan now for a toe-tapping bundle of musical fun.

 

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