Sunday, April 26, 2015

reviews - PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES - The Palms Theatre

the cast of Pump Boys and Dinettes
(photo: Mike Benedetto)
highlights from local critics reviews - click link at bottom of each review to read complete review

"Pump Boys and Dinettes isn’t exactly a musical play, there’s no plot; it’s more a country flavored revue where four guys and two gals innocently flirt, exchange friendly punch lines and sing songs that tell stories.  Director David Simmons, himself an accomplished singer and musician, ably guides the seven roadside characters as they go through the musical motions of their day before hitting the road for Florida.  True, in a revue like Pump Boys, as long as the cast can sing and play those instruments – which this cast does tremendously well – the director’s job is halfway done, but Simmons keeps the characters constantly on the move as they call to each other across the highway, huddle for a group song – "Fisherman’s Prayer" is particularly effective – clog under the guidance of Lauran Stanis, bang a percussive beat on wheels and hubcaps – the kind of thing that Stomp built a whole show around – and for a moment become creatively dreamy when L.M (Danny Karapetian – the L.M. stands for Love Machine) sings of "The Night Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine" while an imaginary Dolly sits at a diner table with her back to the audience. The five boys, Matt Drui, Alex Mack, John Thomas Hays, Rob Watson and Danny Karapetian sing and play well together, often alternating instruments depending on who is doing the solo, but it’s the two dinettes that add the real color and sound.  Both Caitlin Newman as Prudie and Kira Galindo as Rhetta practically open their arms to the audience and invite everyone in the moment they enter the stage, and, yes, as shown in the song Vacation where Rhetta takes the lead and tells all that she needs to get away, these ladies can really sing.  In truth, Pump Boys and Dinettes is hardly great theatre, but with seven truly likeable performers who get it right, a first half that runs forty-five minutes and a second that runs no more than thirty, no one outstays their welcome." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"Set in a small town in North Carolina, Pump Boys and Dinettes is a fun-filled show with a folksy charm set against a backdrop of country, pop, and gospel tunes. While there is little to the plot or story, it takes you back to a simpler time and the laid-back ways of the South where the talk centers on dating, drinking, fishing and the local shopping mall. Currently at The Palms Theatre, there is also plenty of toe-tapping and hand-clapping songs, and an energetic cast led by the stellar voiced Rob Watson.  The musical tells the story of the men who work at a gas station and auto body shop on a quiet spot on Highway 57 and the two sisters who run the diner on the other side of the highway. The energetic songs tell about the characters' experiences, romantic encounters, their love of fishing and their grandma, work and the need to get away for a vacation. It is a slice of life show, with minimal plot, but full of charm and funny jokes and characters. The added impact of all five of the male actors being very capable musicians elevates the musical into much more than just the sum of its parts.  Director David Simmons is an actor and musician so he understands the demands of being able to effectively do both at the same time, and he has assembled a very talented cast, including many Palms regulars. Rob Watson is Jim, the main narrator of the show, and his excellent voice is used to great effect throughout, especially on the a capella "Fisherman's Prayer." Jim is part owner of the Pump Boys gas station, and Watson brings a keen sense of the easygoing, laid-back lifestyle to his performance. Danny Karapetian is L. M., Jim's partner in the shop, and the two portray a realistic working relationship of friends who constantly joke with each other. Karapetian plays the piano well and sweetly sings a couple of the show's ballads, including the one hit song that came out of this show, "The Night Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine." Jim's fishing buddy Jackson is played by John Thomas Hays who is a skilled guitarist and vocalist. His solo of "Mona" is a highlight. The spunky, eager, and always ready to please Prudie Cupp and her sister Rhetta Cupp, who serve up homemade pies at their Double Cupp Diner, are played by Caitlin Newman and Kira Galindo. These two actresses have an abundance of sass and exceptionally strong voices that really makes their songs and interactions with the "boys" and the audience pop. Sure, Pump Boys and Dinettes is hokey, and a show that some people who like more traditional musicals might not quite enjoy, but it is also a fun show with songs and a setting that are nostalgic. Part musical theatre, part country-rock concert, the Palms Production has an enthusiastic cast who are also gifted musicians. While it is a short show, running just over 90 minutes, it is energetic, full of down to earth characters and down-home fun." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through May 16th

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