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A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
Pump Boys and Dinettes
Even if you happen to come with an attitude, you are more apt to start tapping a foot soon after it begins. The four Pump Boys... have no mission greater than to sing about life along "Highway 57" (an oasis somewhere between Frog Level and Smyrna, S.C.) and blend their voices with two twanging guitars, a bass and one clanging piano and the harmonies and solos provided by the two ...Dinettes (two sisters/waitresses) in the diner across the road.
The setting which comprises both the outside of the filling station and the interior of the 1950s richly detailed art-deco-diner is quite an eye-full as designed by Michael Schweikardt. Outside the gas station, where fixing Uncle Bob's Winnebago takes a back seat to day dreaming, the gas jockeys, as congenially played by James Barry, Gabe Bowling, and Jason Ostrowski reflect on such topics and considerations as "Taking It Slow," "Catfish," and "Drinkin' Shoes." Suspicious of beautiful women who drive in for gas, L.M (Ostrowski), gets the best opportunities to pump up the comic quotient with such songs as "Serve Yourself," and "TNDPWAM" (which translates to "The Night Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine."
Meanwhile at the Double Cupp Diner, the Cupp sisters, Prudie (Julie Foldesi) and Rhetta (Alysha Umprhress) reflect on their lives and on the neighborly gas jockeys. Instrumentally, the gals are limited to banging pots and pans and various kitchen utensils as well as on a tambourine. But their close harmony singing and flirtatious behavior are enough to make their invitation "Hey, yawl, come on down" one you may not want to refuse.
Each performer, under the brisk direction of John Foley, gets a turn to shine. The colorful costumes by Brian Hemesath reflect the era although sharp eyes will notice that the menu prices are not accurate for the time and that the garage has automotive supplies not yet in use in the 1950s. No use quibbling about such things when there's singing, dancing and romancing to be done.
There just enough lively choreography created by Joann M. Hunter to add additional spark to the twenty up-beat tunes, the collective work of John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann. If "Closing Time" comes a little sooner than you might expect with a show that's well under two hours with an intermission, that's probably a good thing y'awl.