July 2014

Pump Boys & Dinettes: Life, Love and Toe-Tappin’ Good Times

Author: Andrea Gannon | Photographer: Jordan Sturm

Welcome to the Double Cupp Diner, way down on Highway 57, where the cherry pie is fresh, and the waitresses are as hot as the coffee! The boys from the gas station next door—Jim, Jackson, Eddie and L.M.—play an exuberant blend of country, rock and pop packed with entertaining music about life, love, and good times. And right next door is a roadside eatery, the Double Cupp Diner, where the lovely Cupp sisters, Prudie and Rhetta, bake up their famous home cooking and share their gift for song with the same enthusiasm they bring to hanging out with the boys.

Pump Boys and Dinettes, the Arts Center’s summer southern-comfort musical is on stage through July 27, and is a high octane mixture of concert and musical theatre. What’s so unique about this show is the actors are also the musicians. The talented cast of six makes it a toe-tappin’ good time for the whole family, singing songs like “Serve Yourself,” “Fisherman’s Prayer,” and “Caution: Men Cooking.”

Directing the Arts Center’s production is the talented Robert Farley, co-founder of the Georgia Ensemble Theatre and Conservatory and its artistic director. Farley has directed the show seven times, having honed it to perfection. He said, “This show is high energy … sure to thrill theater-goers and completely captivate those who normally don’t come to the theater. I’ve been around the show since the original was on Broadway, and it really is great for all ages. It’s a friendly, fun, highly infectious show.”

Revealing heartache and hilarity, these six lovable characters perform the stories of their lives on guitars, piano, bass, accordion, harmonica and even kitchen utensils. And they rock it out.

In the underlying spirit of “work won’t kill you, but worry will,” the show attests to the relaxed attitude of a small southern town, where men talk about fishing and drinking, while the dinettes, Prudie and Rhetta, aim to satisfy and nurture the customers who come in the diner.


Kyle Lacy as “Jackson”

Farley unleashes the perfect chemistry in a wildly talented cast that also intentionally doubles as the show’s band. Lead guitarist Ben Loving plays Jim, part owner of Pump Boys, who guides us through the show with bits of narration and is endearing in his on-again, off-again romance with the lovely Rhetta (“I’ll clear all the beer cans out of my car if you go out with me.”)

Pianist Guy Stroebel plays L.M., a quiet, unassuming guy, until he hilariously divulges his past with a certain country music star in “The Night Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine.” Meanwhile, Kyle Lacy as Jackson, rocks the house in his solo “Mona,” while bassist Scott Moss remains steadfast to his overalls-wearing character of Eddie, a man of few words.

The Cupp sisters, Ashlie Roberson as Prudie and Casey Gill as Rhetta, pump up the volume with a generous helping of homespun humor, tap dancing and candid conversations about the reality of their lives. With energy and charm, Roberson plays the sensible sister, who harbors a secret crush on one of the pump boys. Then it’s Gill in her high red stilettos, a fiery version of a young Reba McEntire, who slings plenty of sass in “Be Good or Be Gone.”

If you haven’t heard of Pump Boys and Dinette before now, you’ll soon be a believer in all that’s friendly, fun and down-home. The show is more than a truck stop next to a café serving up homemade pies at Double Cupp Diner. It’s a delightful songfest that stands testament to the Broadway musical that ran for 573 performances after making its debut in 1982.

The show was nominated for both Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Musical. Now, a Broadway revival is in the works, and meanwhile Pump Boys and Dinettes is onstage in New York this summer with a star-studded cast at Encores! Off-Center.

For now, however, you can see it right here at the Arts Center and get a jump on the NYC theatergoers! Don’t fret about the gas mileage to come see the Cupp sisters and the boys because Highway 57 is located right off of William Hilton Parkway at 14 Shelter Cove Lane.

The show runs through July 27 at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. Tickets are $44 for adults and $31 for children. Purchase tickets now by calling the box office at (843) 842-ARTS (2787) or reserve your seat online at artshhi.com.

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