Thursday, November 14, 2013


Diana Torres Koss and Christopher Reber
JTC stages folksy, lighthearted musical revue "Pump Boys and Dinettes'

After the intellectual acrobatics of its last offering, Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, the Jewel Theatre Company does something completely different  in Pump Boys and Dinettes, a lighthearted, country-pop musical revue. The Center Stage theatre space is transformed into a roadside diner somewhere along Highway 57 in North Carolina, where a six-man musical combo and two perky waitresses invite the audience in for two fleet hours of songs, dancing, and good times.

With book, lyrics, and music written collectively by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel, and Jim Wann, Pump Boys and Dinettes was first produced on Broadway in 1982. JTC Artistic Director Julie James has appeared in three different out-of-town productions of the show, and had so much fun, she decided to direct this production for JTC, in which she also co-stars as one of the waitress/co-owners of the Double Cupp Diner (along with Diana Torres Koss).

James and company set the folksy, down-home tone right off. Even as patrons are still finding their seats, the musicians are milling around on stage, tuning up and joking around, while the waitresses, in their pink uniforms and paper caps rove up and down the aisles, welcoming everyone in and chatting them up. Ron Gasparinetti's cozily overstuffed set (coffee counter and stools, pink china on the shelves, black and white checkerboard floor, a neon gas pump sign on one side and a "Diner" sign on the other) deftly evokes the kind of homey place where waitresses in beehives call you "Hon."
Brent Schindele and Julie James lead the company in song
 Fans of JTC's terrific film noir musical, Gunmetal Blues, from last season, will be pleased to know that two of its stars reunite in this show. Christopher Reber (the gumshoe in Blues) stars as the guitar-strumming front man in the diner band, and Brent Schindele (beloved in Blues as lounge singer Buddy Toupee) is back at the piano keys.

With its good humor and hard-working cast, Pump Boys and Dinettes is an ideal prelude to the holiday season, a low-stress entertainment that will keep you smiling. (Read more)

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