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Review: PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES at The Winter Park Playhouse

A toe-tapping, knee-slapping production of the Off-Broadway hit musical arrives in Winter Park

Review: PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES at The Winter Park Playhouse Somewhere on Highway 57 between Frog Level and Smyrna sits a little diner across from a service station where the pie is fresh, the beer is cold, and the gas is cheap (if that's even possible these days). Such is the setting for the Off-Broadway hit musical PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES. And in its latest production of this feel-good musical, The Winter Park Playhouse delivers a toe-tapping, knee slapping good time.

Review: PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES at The Winter Park Playhouse With book, lyrics and music by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann (who also happen to be the original Off-Broadway cast), PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES gives the audience a glimpse into the lives of the Cupp sisters, Prudie (Heather Alexander) and Rhetta (Rebecca Jo Lightfoot) who own the local "Double Cupp" diner on Highway 57 and their neighbors the "Pump Boys", brothers LM (Christopher Leavy) and Jim (Ned Wilkinson) and their fellow grease monkeys Jackson (Ken Tibeau) and Eddie (usually Nick Rosa, but Chris Mewhinney at our performance). The Pump Boys and Dinettes converse with the audience and sing about life on Highway 57 - spinning tales of lost love, fishing, drinking and the woes of the working class - all while playing their own instruments (quite well for that matter) and singing through the country-flavored score.

Review: PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES at The Winter Park Playhouse PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES relies on a small cast of strong singers and musicians, and in The Winter Park Playhouse's production they have hit the jackpot. As the Cupp sisters, Heather Alexander and Rebecca Jo Lightfoot are an absolute pleasure to watch perform - delivering tight harmonies and skilled kitchen utensil percussion to the upbeat and fun score. Ms. Lightfoot in particular is given a few opportunities to show off her exceptional voice - especially in Rhetta's sassy "Be Good or Be Gone" and my favorite "I Need A Vacation". Ms. Alexander, who is also the co-founder and executive director of the Playhouse gives a solid performance as well. As for the "pump boys" they supply the instrumental underscore for the show, with musical director Christopher Leavy nimbly at the keys (and accordion) as the mysterious LM, Ned Wilkinson on lead guitar as his brother Jim, who serves as sort of emcee for the evening, the entertaining Ken Tibeau as the beer guzzling guitarist, Jackson, and Chris Mewhinney (at our performance) as the silent, but skilled bassist, Eddie. The show also includes a raffle drawing at intermission for parts to help fix Eddie's Edsel (proceeds actually go to the educational initiatives of The Winter Park Playhouse) - allowing the audience to take part in the story. Overall, this cast feels like a family who is enjoying every minute of the show from the opening chord to "Closing Time".

Review: PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES at The Winter Park Playhouse From a creative perspective, Director (and Choreographer) Roy Alan does a great job keeping the action moving from song to song and giving the audience a glimpse of the lives of these funny, but realistic characters. CJ Sikorski's excellent scenic design brings a smile immediately upon entering the theatre and has captured perfectly the southern charm of the Double Cupp diner and the fun, but functional service station where the pump boys "fix" cars. Monica Titus' costumes are perfectly aligned with the story - with Prudie and Rhetta's bright red waitress uniforms standing out. Sarah Griffin's lighting design focuses the action as needed and J. Adam Smith's sound design ensures every note comes through clearly.

Overall, The Winter Park Playhouse's production of PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES is the perfect way to close its 19th season - with good music, down home fun and an audience pleaser of a musical that is sure to put smile on your face. But here's a "Tip" - be sure you make it out to Winter Park before this lesser-known gem of a musical is gone.

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PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES presented by The Winter Park Playhouse runs through June 12th. Tickets range from $39 to $46 ($20 for Industry, Student and Active Military). Performances take place at The Winter Park Playhouse which is located at 711 Orange Avenue Suite C Winter Park, FL 32789. Tickets can be purchased by clicking the link below, visiting https://winterparkplayhouse.org/ or calling (407) 645-0145.

All Photos by The Winter Park Playhouse



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