‘Pump Boys and Dinettes’ Review – A Country Music Opera

Cast of "Pump Boys and Dinettes"
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Just to add a little history and perspective to the “Pump Boys and Dinettes” I will begin with this little excerpt from Wikipedia.


The musical premiered on Broadway on February 4, 1982 at the Princess Theatre and closed on June 18, 1983, after 573 performances. The cast featured Debra MonkCass Morgan, John Foley, Mark Hardwick and John Schimmel. It had premiered at the Chelsea West Side Arts Theatre in 1981, moving to the Colonnades Theatre (Greenwich Village) in October 1981.

The show played in London‘s West End at the Piccadilly Theatre from September 20, 1984 to June 8, 1985 and transferred to the Albery Theatre from June 11, 1985 to September 2, 1985.[4][5] The production starred, amongst others, Paul JonesClodagh RodgersJoe BrownBrian ProtheroeCarlene Carter and Kiki Dee.

And now this Tony nominated show has arrived in Southern California at the always pleasing Sierra Madres Playhouse.  It is a country music oriented musical production embracing the relationships between friends and by and between the female workers at a dinette located conveniently across the road from a local garage/gas station with its several male workers.  The thing is that every one of the pump boys is also a clearly accomplished musician and both of the waitresses at the Dinette happen to be excellent vocalists. So this show somewhat surprisingly to me, I admit, is essentially a country music opera.  Oh but don’t get me wrong, while I was expecting – and I am not sure why – more interplay between the two groups the emphasis was clearly on abundant music.

Emily Kay Townsend and Cori Cable Kidder

But as the show goes on there is plenty of very entertaining music amplified with antics and indeed some intriguing relationships between the Dinettes and the Pump Boys.  In the end what I believe emerges are revelations of the joy of friendships as they develop before you. I don’t know what the off Broadway shows were like but at the Sierra Madres Playhouse there is a great deal of interface between cast and audience, including placing three audience members on stage sitting in the restaurant and clearly very much enjoying the experience.  And every audience member gets an opportunity to help the waitresses with a tip, but fear not it will cost you nothing.

In fact, as I write this, it has occurred to me that this is perhaps the most direct audience involvement I have ever seen in a stage show and it was pure fun.  So if enjoyment is one of the major criteria for any theatrical performance then “Pump Boys and Dinettes” is undeniably a five star show.

And I haven’t begun to touch upon to abundance of great singing by every single member of the cast – except the drummer who just keeps on drumming.  Now if you just do not like country style music then this may not be your show. Otherwise it is as close to a must see as any performance can ever be.

I offer mega-kudos to the entire cast:

Cori Cable Kidder [Rhetta Cupp]

Jim Miller [Bobby – drummer]

Michael Butler Murray [Jim – guitar & dobro]

Sean Paxton [L.M. – Piano & Accordian]

Kevin Tiernan [Eddie – Bass]

Emily Kay Townsend [Prudie Cupp]

Jimmy Villaflor [Jackson – Guitar]

Cast of “Pump Boys and Dinettes”

“Pump Boys and Dinettes” Is playing now through July 29th 2018 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 West Sierra Madres Boulevard, Sierra Madre, California.  Show times are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.  For reservations and ticketing information call 626-355-4319.


And now you can enjoy “The Three Amigos” radio show broadcast every Wednesday from11:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. from the Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood.  CLICK here:ubnradio website.

Photo credits:  Gina Long


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